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Free to the public: May outdoor activities

 

Volunteer docents have scheduled free outdoor activities in May on the open space preserves of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

Some activities require reservations. For more info, call 650-691-1200 or go to www.openspace.org.

The information below is from Leigh Ann Maze, communications specialist with the open space district.

Saturday, May 8, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve (meet: Whittemore Gulch entrance)

"Mountain Mayhem"

Oh, the history the hills have to share! Learn the local lore with docents Ed Lange and Ida Rhodes as you descend on Harkins Ridge on this strenuous 9-mile jaunt down and up the mountain with lunch near the Purisima Creek Road entrance. You'll return up the mountain on the Purisima Creek and Craig Britton Trails. The route will pass old logging sites and grizzly haunts and the docents will tell the tale of a possible "murder on the mountain."

Saturday, May 8, noon – 3:30 p.m.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

"Spring Blossoms"

Join docent Keith Johnsgård in one of the premiere spring wildflower viewing sites in the region in search of spring blossoms. This leisurely hike includes both grassland and deep forest ecosystems that offer a broad variety of flowers. Children should be able to hike 4 miles, including two lengthy uphill climbs. Reservations are required and will be accepted on or after April 24. Parking is often difficult this time of year, so carpool and arrive early if possible.

Sunday, May 9, 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve (meet: Kennedy Trail trailhead)

"North Slope Ascent"

Ascend the north slope of the Kennedy Trail with docents Sarah Schoen and Mary Leeburg. Enjoy ever expanding views as you climb 1,800 feet up and 4 miles out and then back. Solve the mystery of why this hike starts, turns around at, and winds up at the "top of the hill." Reservations are required and will be accepted on or after April 25. Roadside parking is limited. Arrive early to find parking.

Sunday, May 9, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

"Wildflower Bouquet for Mother's Day"

Instead of bringing mom flowers, why not bring mom out to the flowers this year? Past years have brought spectacular wildflower displays (and some pretty fantastic moms!) to Russian Ridge on this celebratory Sunday in May. Celebrate your mom with docents Richard and Toni Gooch on this leisurely-paced, 3.5-mile walk to Borel Hill and back on the Ancient Oaks Trail. Parking is often difficult this time of year, so carpool and arrive early if possible.

Wednesday, May 12, 10:00 a.m. – noon

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

"Scenic Aerobic Hike"

Docents Bernie Larkin and Stella Yang are ready to get you moving in spring mode. Join them out on the trails to visit a variety of District preserves on these 3- to 5-mile, moderately-paced aerobic outings with few stops and lots of walking.

Wednesday, May 12, 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve (meet: Northside – Free Unlimited parking lot)

"To Love Los Gatos"

Come and enjoy an aerobic outing overlooking beautiful Los Gatos with docent Ed Lange. You'll have your 6-mile workout walking from downtown into the preserve and along the Jones, Manzanita, and Serpentine Trails spiced up with a bit of local history and folklore.

Saturday, May 15, 9:00 a.m. – noon

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve (meet: Lower parking lot)

"Exploring Natural Communities"

Learn about natural communities and California native trees as you hike 4 to 5 miles through beautiful Windy Hill Preserve with docents Ann Reisenauer and Peggy Jacobs. You'll pass through grassland, foothill woodland, mixed evergreen, and riparian communities as you hike along the Betsy Crowder, Meadow, Hamms Gulch, and Spring Ridge Trails.

Saturday, May 15, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve

"Lions and Us"

Join docent Keith Johnsgård for a natural history hike on this beautiful preserve (a 4-mile circle route with an elevation gain of 275 feet each way). During a 1-hour lunch break (bring your own) at the midway point, Johnsgård will tell you all about mountain lions, and will discuss a number of fatal and non-fatal lion attacks on humans to illustrate how even a little knowledge can reduce your risk when traveling in lion country. The subject matter is not appropriate for young children. Reservations required and will be accepted on or after May 1.

Sunday, May 16, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

"The 'Compleat' Russian Ridge Hike"

Pack a lunch, plan on a full day, and join docents Paul Billig and Mary Bernstein as you explore most of the trail system in Russian Ridge Preserve, including trails rarely covered on docent-led hikes. Learn about the history of this preserve as you enjoy the display of spring wildflowers. This hike will cover about 9 miles with around 1,000 feet of climbing and extend from the southern to the northern boundary of the preserve.

Sunday, May 16, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

"California Newts"

Docent Paul Vadopalas will discuss amphibians and reptiles in general and California newts in particular while hiking to a hidden pond in the preserve. You'll discover the pond's inhabitants – California newts, and hopefully see their predators – garter snakes. You'll stop for lunch before returning on the Stevens Creek Nature Trail, and search for more amphibians along the creek. This will be a 4-mile roundtrip hike.

Wednesday, May 19, 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve (meet: Lower parking lot)

"Explorer Hike"

Join docents Dennis Smith and Ida Rhodes on one of these moderately-paced excursions of about 3 to 5 miles with a variety of elevation gains. These hikes are offered one or more times per month at various preserves. The route for each hike will be determined based on prevailing trail and weather conditions at each location. Don't let spring exploring pass you by! (Note: For this hike, participants will carpool to the hike location.)

Thursday, May 20, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve (Meet: Jacques Ridge)

"April Showers Bring May Flowers"

Join docents Dick Gehrer, and Strether and Tommi Smith for a walk down an old road, built in the days of quicksilver mining on the southern end of the Open Space District's boundary. You'll get a view of the old radar station on top of Mt. Umunhum and see some of the best views of the South Bay. The Guadalupe River begins here before it wanders down the mountain and through San Jose on its way to the San Francisco Bay. The theme is "spring time" – discover how Mother Nature puts on a grand display of colors.

Friday, May 21, 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

"Wildflower Sunset"

Join docents Paul Billig and Katherine Greene for a moderately-paced, 5-mile evening hike through this wonderful preserve. You'll see how many of the wildflowers prepare for the night and then be on the lookout for the animals that come out in the evening. Bring an extra jacket for cool conditions after the sun goes down and a small flashlight. Reservations are required and will be accepted on or after May 7.

Saturday, May 22, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Skyline Ridge and Russian Ridge Open Space Preserves (Meet: Skyline Ridge equestrian parking lot)

"Discover the Ridges Ride"

Docents Jenny Whitman and Lyndall Erb will guide you and your horse on a unique trail ride where you'll enjoy views and learn about the environment around you on this 7- to 8-mile horseback excursion. Youth riders under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and are required to wear a helmet. Horses need to be conditioned for steady climbs up fire roads. Ancient Oaks Trail is a single-track trail along a ridge. No stallions. This activity is designed for equestrians who have their own horse; horses are not provided. Reservations are required and will be accepted on or after May 8.

Saturday, May 22, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve

"The Butterflies of Picchetti"

Join docents Jan Hintermeister and Karen DeMello in exploring the wonderful, strange world of insects that taste with their feet and smell with their antennae. Learn to identify common butterfly species in their natural environment and discover why humans have always been fascinated with these delicate winged creatures. Many facts and flutters await you on this easy 2.5-mile walk along the Zinfandel and Orchard Loop Trails! Bring binoculars if you have them.

Sunday, May 23, 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve (meet: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve)

"Arachnophilia!"

Explore the world of arachnids and other interesting multi-legged creatures with spider-loving docents Debbi Brusco, Jack Owicki, and Jan Hintermeister. Keep your eyes on the lookout for creatures you might usually be inclined to avoid, as you leisurely travel 2 to 3 miles of woodland, grassland, and chaparral on the Ridge Trail and others.

Wednesday, May 26, 10:00 a.m. – noon

Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

"Scenic Aerobic Hike"

Docents Bernie Larkin and Stella Yang are ready to get you moving in spring mode. Join them out on the trails to visit a variety of District preserves on these 3- to 5-mile, moderately-paced aerobic outings with few stops and lots of walking.

Saturday, May 29, 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve (meet: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve)

"The Ohlone Way"

This hike is about ethnobotany; how the Ohlone Indians used native plants long before Safeway, Rite Aid, and Home Depot came along. Join docents Keith Johnsgård and Ed Lange for a leisurely walk through four ecosystems (2-mile loop with a 275-foot elevation gain) with stops to discuss useful plants. During a 1-hour lunch break (bring your own), the docents will tell you about the history of Skyline Ridge, from the early Asian immigrants 10,000 years ago until today. This hike is designed for adults. Reservations are required and will be accepted on or after May 15.

Sunday, May 30, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve (meet: Lower parking lot)

"Nature Journaling"

Join docents Suzanne Schleck and Rebecca Pickart for a hike at a different pace. Bring your sketch pad, field journal or sketch pad and drawing supplies for a hike up St. Joseph's Hill. You'll stop along the way to look closely at nature and sketch what you see. No experience is necessary! A folding seat is useful. This will be a 3-mile hike with frequent stops.

Monday, May 31, 8:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve (Meet: Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve)

"24th Annual Hike the Open Spaces"

Join docents Greg Azevedo and Bob Segalla for a 3.5-mile, leisurely-paced walk through this less-traveled section of the preserve on the Waterwheel Creek Trail. If the weather is clear, expect to see some spectacular views of the Santa Clara Valley and portions of the Santa Cruz Mountains! This walk will include the history of the preserve and the Open Space District, and information about some of the plants, animals, and geology of the area. Pace will vary with occasional stops to view and discuss nature topics along the trail. A short snack break is planned midway (bring your own). Reservations are required and will be accepted on or after May 17. Participants will carpool to the hike location.

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