Exploring is a fun part of gravel, but tackling Midpen gravel made me happy to have some guidance along the way.
Mike and Andy have some of the most extensive trail knowledge in the Bay Area to a Beautiful Mind type level, so handing over the planning of this ride took a lot off of my mind.
If you look at map of the Midpeninsula open space, you’ll find a number of connected parks with a myriad of trails within spanning three counties.
There are a number of places you can park on the ridge, but we started out below near Saratoga at Cooley Park to take advantage of gravity at the end.
After meandering through wine country that dates back to the 1800s, after crossing Big Basin Highway it was time to test our small ring skills as the Long Ridge Trail was a consistent grind in the double digits luckily for only a kilometer.
With a brief respite, we directly transitioned onto the John Nicholas Trail which while windy was a much steadier climb lingering around 6% and amazingly maintained despite the density of trees.
It’s always nice to get the bulk of climbing out the way early, as we meandered on the Skyline Trail with a lot of rolling conditions which you’ll shift a lot of gears out of.
Crossing back over Big Basin, the Saratoga Gap brought a brief bit of vert before flipping over Skyline Blvd into Long Ridge Open Space Preserve with its grasslands winning out for views of the day.
We had a few quirks follow, like a chestnut stand, horseshoe lake and Christmas tree farm, but we added a four mile loop through the Monte Bello Preserve that paid off on the sweeping descent at the end.
Our downhill excursion of dirt continued for another six miles starting from Lower White Oak to the Canyon Trail where we started out dodging trees leading to a stretch of straightness before we crossed a dormant Stevens Creek right before rain season.
All in all, it wasn’t just how much fun, but the different types that Midpen gravel brought and it’s hard to imagine we only touched a portion of all there is to offer!