Fremont Older Open Space Preserve
Fremont Older is an attractive preserve on some low hills just outside Saratoga. Even though it's just a few minutes' drive from town and offers some nice views of the South Bay, it really feels like it's out in the country, and its grassy hills interspersed with stands of eucalyptus trees gives it a unique ranch-like appearance.
Adding to the ranch-like atmosphere, Fremont Older adjoins Garrod Stables, which conducts popular horse tours through the preserve. As a result the trails on Coyote Ridge (the Toyon, Bay View, and Coyote Ridge Trails) are liberally strewn with fresh horse manure. This is a little unfortunate for hikers since Bay View and Coyote Ridge would otherwise be the best trails in the preserve.
Within Garrod Stables is the Cooper-Garrod vineyard, and some of the preserve's trails offer views of the attractive vineyards. Hikers could conceivably combine a hike in the preserve with some wine tasting, but it's a bit more pleasant to drive to the vineyard than it is to walk in through the stables.
Mountain biking is allowed in Fremont Older, and there are about as many mountain bikers as hikers here. Most of the trails are wide dirt roads with plenty of room for bikers and hikers to share the road.
The short walk to Hunters' Point is a popular family hike and a nice way to see a little of the preserve while avoiding the worst of the horse manure. For a longer hike, consider visiting Maisie's Peak and, if you're not averse to horse manure, continue on from there to hike a loop on the Coyote Peak and Bay View trails. The Toyon Trail, though singletrack, is less attractive.
Start from the parking lot, and climb the Cora Older Trail through woods, breaking out into grasslands as you approach a T intersection with a dirt road. Turn right, then in just a few yards, turn left onto the dirt road. In another few yards, turn right again onto the Hayfield Trail. It's a short climb to Hunters Point.
© 2010 David Baselt