Located in the scenic green hills above Saratoga, Sanborn is a fully developed and very popular park. The park's centerpiece is a large, attractive lawn, a perfect spot for a summer barbeque, but there are also tent and RV campgrounds, a nature center, and outdoor Shakespeare performances. A network of trails climbs the wooded hillside; adventurous hikers can hike from here to the Pacific Ocean without ever leaving the trail. For the most part the woods aren't especially scenic, but they include a few second-growth redwood groves, an unusual sight in this area.
A mile from the main developed area, at the beginning of the John Nicholas Trail, is Lake Ranch Reservoir, a pleasant little pond surrounded by wooded hills. Softly quacking ducks paddle around, frogs hop into the water as you pass, and an egret stands guard over it all. It's about a half-mile uphill hike to reach the reservoir, so the location is usually pretty quiet.
The park has a $6 parking fee, but it may be possible to park near the youth hostel for free.
* The Todd Creek Redwoods (5.9 miles, 1570 ft)
This hike starts at the main entrance and climbs to Skyline Ridge, passing through a small but interesting high-elevation redwood grove. There's another, more mundane redwood grove near the beginning of the trail.
* The John Nicholas Trail (7.8 miles, 1530 ft)
The John Nicholas Trail is the newest of the trails that climbs Skyline Ridge. The wide trail with its shallow gradient and lots of switchbacks seems to have been designed mainly for mountain biking.
© 2010, 2012 David Baselt