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Monte Bello and Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserves

Date: (Sun.) Oct. 30, 2005
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Event Director: - 206.913.3790
Course Setter: Mikkel Conradi
Type: B; White, Yellow, Orange, and advanced courses

Still going to be thirsty for orienteering after our O' in the Oaks III "A" meet at Joe Grant? Come on out the following weekend to the San Francisco peninsula for our annual fall meet at the neighboring Monte Bello and Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserves.

We will offer White, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Green, Red, and Blue courses. Advanced courses will take place in Monte Bello and will use electronic punching. White, Yellow, and Orange courses will take place in the Skyline OSP and will use manual punching. Parking and registration will take place in the Skyline equestrian parking lot. Starts for all courses will be a 5-10 minute walk away. Starts will be offered during the usual window of 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; courses will close at 2:00. The advanced finish will again be a 5-10 minute walk away from parking, while the White/Yellow/Orange finish will be right at the parking lot.

Dan Greene will offer an intermediate orienteering clinic at 10:30. See details below.

This venue is known to be hot much of the year; by scheduling in late October we hope to avoid the heat without getting into the rainy season. There is no running water at the site; please bring your own.

The parking lot is small, and it is a condition of our permit that we arrange carpooling. PLEASE CARPOOL from the Park 'n' Ride lot on Page Mill Road at 280. See the Carpool Information below for details.

Because of the sensitivity of the area, we must restrict the number of participants. Please do not bring any groups of 8 or more people.

As of Thursday evening, the weather forecast is sunny, highs in the upper 60's, 10% chance of precipitation. Get updates at (

Finally, remember that Daylight Saving Time ends the night before, and your clocks should be set back one hour.


This venue requires parking attendants, crossing guards, first aid staff, and communications liasons. Thus, we require more volunteers here than at most meets. I, your meet director, will greatly appreciate it if you volunteer before I have to ask. Make my life easier — if you plan to attend, please sign up to work for an hour or two by emailing me (). Many thanks!

Tree Planting Project November 5

In conjunction with this meet, we have scheduled a habitat restoration day for the following Saturday. Twenty BAOC members will have the opportunity to plant acorns at Skyline Ridge as part of a reforestation project. A picnic lunch will be served to all volunteers. This is a great opportunity to learn more about these preserves and to give back to the land. Pre-registration is requested. Learn more...

Intermediate Orienteering Clinic

If you're trying to move up to the more advanced orienteering courses, Dan Greene will be offering an intermediate-advanced clinic at 10:30am. Dan will give a brief review of advanced orienteering techniques such as attack points, aiming off, collecting features, route choice, risk evaluation, and green-yellow-red navigation. He'll also spend some time examining maps from previous years' events in Monte Bello, to develop skills for choosing the appropriate advanced techniques and strategies. This initial instruction will run 45 minutes to 1 hour. After that you will run your course -- orange, or one of the shorter advanced course such as brown or green. Bring a picnic lunch, as you will be meeting again after you run to debrief and to compare routes with each other.

Course Setter's Notes

From course-setter Mikkel Conradi:

When I signed up to be the course-setter for Monte Bello/Skyline Ridge, I may not have realized exactly what I was in for. Both maps have large sections of relatively steep terrain and dense vegetation. Because of this, and because this is my first ever attempt at course setting, I have tried to error slightly on the low side as far as gnarliness goes. As a result, the courses are fairly short, although with a moderate amount of climb.

  Course    Length    Climb
  White     1.7 km    110 m
  Yellow    2.3 km    170 m
  Orange    2.8 km    240 m
  Brown     2.7 km    255 m
  Green     3.6 km    290 m
  Red       4.6 km    370 m
  Blue      5.7 km    435 m

The runners should pay attention to the following notes.

Monte Bello

Skyline Ridge

All Participants


In these preserves we have the usual Bay Area hazards: poison oak, ticks, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. The only one you are likely to encounter is poison oak. Check out our FAQ/What_are_the_hazards? page for photos of poison oak and information on how to prevent a rash and how to treat one if you get one. The same page also has a link to information on ticks.

It is unusual to see a rattlesnake and extremely rare to see a mountain lion. If you encounter either, back away slowly. More details about how to respond are posted on the Preserve trailhead signs.


Be aware that this area is remote. It will take 30 minutes to an hour for services to arrive in case of emergency. There is no cell phone service in the preserves, so we will need to drive a mile away just to call 911.

Report emergencies to (a) the Event Director in the parking lot, (b) the Finish in Monte Bello, or (c) the staffed control on Red and Blue courses (see above). All three of these people have radios.

Club member and nurse practitioner Joan Roos has the following advice in the case of a life-threatening emergency out on a course:

Between 10:00 and 2:00 a First Aid staff person with CPR skills will be stationed at the White/Yellow/Orange finish, near the parking lot.

About Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

From the park website:

Italian for "beautiful mountain," Monte Bello Open Space Preserve is a place of rolling grasslands, dense creekside forests, and spectacular vistas. The 2,758-acre preserve is one of the District's richest in wildlife and ecosystem diversity. Hawks soar overhead, bobcats hunt, and deer browse. The preserve encompasses the upper Stevens Creek watershed from Monte Bello Ridge to Skyline Ridge. The Stevens Creek riparian corridor is considered to be one of the finest in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Monte Bello Ridge and Black Mountain provide the scenic backdrop to the communities of Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Cupertino. Settlers to this area named one of their towns Mountain View because they had a view of Black Mountain. From the top of Black Mountain, you can see an incredible view of Santa Clara Valley and over to the Mt. Hamilton Range. On clear days, you can see beautiful sunsets from the Black Mountain backpack camp. Or, you can watch the fog roll in from the coast. As the fog breaks like a giant wave over the peninsula, you can see why it is often referred to as "waterfog."

Stevens Creek follows the San Andreas Fault through the preserve. From the vista point at the start of the Stevens Creek Nature Trail, look down Stevens Creek Canyon to see Mt. Umunhum and Loma Prieta, the site of the 1989 earthquake. For more information about earthquakes, visit the self-guided San Andreas Fault Trail at Los Trancos Open Space Preserve on Page Mill Road, across from Monte Bello Open Space Preserve.

Dairy ranching was prevalent in this area and Monte Bello Ridge was once dotted with cattle. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, this area was the site of several ranches: the Black Mountain Ranch, the Stevens Creek Road Ranch, and the Monte Bello Ranch. The Waterwheel Creek Trail follows an old ranch road, where you can see remnants of orchards and vineyards.

Carpool Information

The official carpool meeting place is the Park 'n' Ride at 280 and Page Mill Road. For most of you, this will be right on the way to the event. If you are coming from the north, it's just across Page Mill Road after stopping at the end of the exit ramp. If you are coming from the south, turn left (west) after exiting, then turn left again at the stop sign after passing under the freeway. Please, if you pass by this area on your way to the event and don't have a full vehicle, stop here and offer a ride, or wait for a ride yourself.

Driving Directions

For the GPS'ers, finding these coordinates might be more interesting than following the textual directions:

N 37 18.650
W 122 10.355

From I-280 in Palo Alto, take the Page Mill Road exit and, after checking in at the Park 'n' Ride (see above), head west (uphill) just under 10 miles to the stop sign at Skyline Blvd. Turn left (cross traffic does not stop!). Proceed about one mile on Skyline and turn right into the parking lot for Skyline OSP. Park in the lot to the left (the equestrian lot), after negotiating the traffic circle.

An alternate, somewhat faster route from the South Bay is to come up Highway 9 from Saratoga and after 7.5 miles, turn right onto Skyline Blvd. Go about 5-1/2 miles to the Skyline OSP and turn left into the parking lot. Be aware that road construction on Highway 9 has been underway for several months, and there may be delays. Friday, October 28 is the last posted day of construction/delays.

From the north, it is prettier and less curvey to take Skyline Blvd. south from the Hwy 35 exit off I-280 near San Mateo. (Hwy 35 is Skyline Blvd.) From this exit you will have about a 35 minute drive. Immediately after the exit you will have a few decision points; just keep following the signs to Skyline Blvd. / Hwy 35 and soon you will be on a beautiful stretch of two-lane highway. Halfway there, at the junction with Woodside Road, you can visit the legendary Alice's Restaurant.