Seeing that golden-brown turkey finally come out of the oven after hours of baking is a wondrous sight to behold. But while it induces tears of joy, it also provides many unwanted calories. This Thanksgiving, treat yourself to the Peninsula’s otherworldly displays of natural beauty while burning calories. Yes, we mean running, but running in the most scenic routes. The beautiful, breathtaking views of the Bay Area, coastal mountains, and the foothills are an eye pleaser for all and will allow you to eat more helpings guilt free.
The Stanford Dish
The Stanford Dish loop is one of the Peninsula’s most iconic trails. Named after the 1966 radio telescope in the Stanford hills, this loop is a favorite destination for runners, walkers, and cyclists. Although on the shorter side of a run, the paved trail has several hilly parts, including one 500-foot elevation gain. The top of the hills offer spectacular views of the Peninsula, Stanford campus and the coastal mountains and squirrels are sure to keep you company. // Length: 3.5 miles, November hours: 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 400 Reservoir Rd (Stanford). Learn more
Stevens Creek Trail
If you want to experience all types of environment at once, head to the Stevens Creek Trail. This entirely flat path takes you through marshes, neighborhoods, woodlands and includes several bridges, under crossings, and overcrossings. It follows a creek bed through the urban areas and continues to more open stretches of land next to shore. The majority of the path is shaded and as winter approaches, you are unlikely to be bothered by the summer swarm of gnats. There are several trailheads but the most popular is Shoreline Park, where you can enjoy activities such as golfing, kayaking, and windsurfing. // Length: 5 miles, Hours: 6:00 a.m. to half an hour after sunset, 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd (Mountain View). Learn more
The Southern Loop is located in the 1,940-acre Palo Alto Baylands Preserve, which is one of the largest tracts of undisturbed marshland left in the Bay Area. On a particularly windy day, you might even get that uniquely repugnant “South Bay” smell. The Baylands Preserve has 15 miles of trails and is one of the best places on the west coast to birdwatch. The Charleston Slough, which the Southern Loop runs through, holds hundreds of different birds as it is a major migratory stop. // Length: 5.3 miles, Hours: 8:00 a.m. to sunset, 2500 Embarcadero Rd (Palo Alto). Learn more
Are you looking for a short but intense run? Rancho San Antonio Preserve in Los Altos has just the one for you. Their PG&E trail follows the path of electrical towers up Black Mountain and rewards runners, walkers, and cyclists with amazing views of western foothills and Bay Area. To get those rewards, however, you need to take on the road, which has an elevation gain of 1600 feet. You can probably go for four helpings after this run. // Length: 3.7 miles, Hours: Half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, Junipero Serra Fwy (Los Altos). Learn more
While this is not an actual running trail marked by the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, Dan’s Loop combines 14 smaller trails to create this scenic route. The run starts off easy and gradually reaches a 750’ point as you run through the rolling grasslands. The good news is that when you reach the halfway point, all the hard work is done. It’s smooth sailing downhill from there. Also, keep an eye out for deer, bobcats, coyotes and birds. // Length: 6 miles, Hours: 8:00 a.m. to sunset, 1530 Arastradero Rd (Palo Alto). Learn more