|Beginning of Hostel Trail at Hidden Villa|
In 1924 Josephine and Frank Duveneck bought 1000 acres in Los Altos Hills. The property stretches west to Adobe Creek's headwaters and encompasses woods, chaparral, and a charming little valley. Hidden Villa is the Duveneck's legacy, a "nonprofit educational organization that uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice." The valley is home is a hostel and organic farm, and during summer months the property is closed to the public for a kids' camp. The rest of the year hikers can walk on easy paths through the woods or use Hidden Villa as a trailhead for intense long treks into adjacent Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.
On Memorial Day when I hiked Hidden Villa with my son and husband the complex and trails were bustling with energy -- families with small kids were picnicking near the creek and exploring the farm, and we crossed paths with many hikers on the trails.
|View to Ewing Hill (foreground) and Black Mountain from Hostel Trail|
We started near the entrance kiosk and walked along the edge of the meadow to easy-to-miss Hostel Trail, which begins just past its namesake. I had forgotten just how steeply this narrow path climbs -- it's a calf burner! The first section ascends through mostly California bay and oak woods. We saw a few fairy lanterns, paintbrush, some California larkspur, and a good display of Indian pink. Past the first junction (we went left) the trail continues climbing, now in chaparral. Coyote mint, sticky monkeyflower, and chamise were in bloom. Loads of puffy clematis were draped across the trailside shrubs. At a viewpoint near the top of Toyon Hill, we savored views of Black Mountain to the west. Then we began a long zigzag down to the junction with Grapevine Trail.
Here, under the shade of a buckeye tree, we lunched and considered our options. I wanted to continue on a longer loop, but my son was feeling hot and unwilling. I left them lounging and pressed on uphill on Hostel Trail. I had a mission.
|Wind poppy, blooming on Hostel Trail in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve|
Last week, I heard wind poppies were blooming in the area. I have only ever seen them on Mount Diablo, so I was eager to catch them before they went to seed. Up through chaparral I went, seeing the first of about a dozen new-to-me lizards. I entered Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve and enjoyed the wide, freshly-brushed trail. Just before I was about to give up I saw them -- the wind poppies! I love these orange flowers. I counted only about a dozen plants, and they seemed to be at their peak. Mission complete, I retraced my steps back to Grapevine Trail.
The narrow path descends steeply through chaparral. We saw hummingbirds, more of the same lizards, and the back end of a fox escaping into the bushes. We were glad to reach the cool canyon and Adobe Creek, and followed the level trail back toward the farm area.
Total mileage for the described loop: about 3.3 miles
No dogs or bikes on trails.
$5 entrance fee.
Hidden Villa closes for the summer on June 11. Get there soon!
BAHiker's Hidden Villa page
View lots more photos of this hike on the BAHiker Facebook page
Map of hike