Palo Alto Running Trails

It’s always a challenge when you know you should get out on a run, but when you have no new routes planned and the mundane repetitiveness of your usual running trails is killing your dwindling motivation, it’s hard to get up and go. 

Palo Alto Running Trails

Finding good running trails is a beautiful thing. It turns the somewhat painful experience of running into a wonderful adventure that distracts you, whilst taking in some new terrain and, hopefully, beautiful scenery.

In this article, we will look at some of the best running trails in the Palo Alto area. 

Redtail Loop Trail To Arastradero Creek Trail

This is a beautiful 8.4 km route with moderate challenges, nothing too crazy but enough to get the lungs burning if that’s what you’re after.

Depending on your running level, on average, this route takes around 2 hours 30 minutes to complete. 

In this area of California, the Pearson Arastradero Preserve is extremely popular among horse riders, mountain bikers and hikers. This beautiful trail is open year-round thanks to the lovely climate in California.

If you fancy taking your dog for a run too, they are welcome but be sure to keep him/her on a leash. The total elevation gain in this trail is 216 meters, and it’s a full loop, so you’ll find yourself back where you started, which is very useful. 

Some trails in this reserve can be closed if the conditions are very wet. It’s also important to note that runners, walkers, and cyclists must yield to equestrians. Cyclists must also yield to hikers. 

North Bayfront Loop Trail

This lovely route is an 8.  loop located in the Baylands Nature Preserve. Considered to be one of the easier trails, this can be tackled by anyone and everyone.

With virtually no elevation gain at all, its flatlands offer easy-going terrain. On average this trail takes 2 hours 10 minutes. This area is highly regarded for its good fishing, road cycling and trail running.

 If you happen to be an avid bird watcher, you may get to kill two birds with one stone. So to speak. So bring your binoculars while you walk, and you’ll find some magnificent wildlife. If you’re lucky enough, you may cite California’s mystical Clapper rail. 

Monte Bello Preserve Loop

This loop is 10.4 km in the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve in Palo Alto, California. Unlike the last, this trail has considerable undulation with a total elevation gain of 420 meters.

Monte Bello Preserve Loop

This particular route summits black mountain. This too is a very popular trail for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Be aware and make sure to yield to the correct groups, though.

This trail is open year-round due to the temperate climate in California. Some trails in the area may close if there is heavy rainfall.

This trail offers jaw-dropping views from Santa Cruz to the Bay, also rich with diverse wildlife to soak up along the way.

This trail doesn’t have much shade from the sun, so be prepared with a hat and sunscreen. You’ll need to bring your own water too as there are no refill points along the way.

It’s a nice idea to pack some lunch for when you summit Black Mountain. 

Sit down, eat, drink, rest and soak up the views! 

Adobe Creek Trail To Shoreline Lake Park

This route is 9.5 km, it’s an out and back trail. This trail is considered to be easy with pretty much no elevation change.

On average this route takes people around 2 hours to complete. This trail is on the Baylands Nature Preserve, the largest salt marsh on the bay.

This trail is full of all kinds of diverse wonderful wildlife. Within the preserve are tidal and freshwater marshes and large areas of water for sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing. 

This trail is open year-round to enjoy, however, heavy rainfall may result in closed trails. 

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. 

Meadowlark And Ohlone Trails Loop 

This beautiful trail in the Arastradero Preserve is a 6.8 km loop near Palo Alto, California. This loop is relatively short with an elevation of 153 meters.

And, thankfully, this trail isn’t too challenging, taking around 2 hours on average to complete depending on fitness levels. 

Meadowlark And Ohlone Trails Loop 

Popular with cyclists and hikers, you can still find quiet times to enjoy this lovely trail. This trail is ideal for amateur mountain biking and trail running and is a great place to find the ropes. 

Ohlone Trail To Arastradero Creek Trail

This trail is a 7.7 km loop in the Arastradero Preserve. With moderate levels of elevation gain, this trail is intermediate level. On average, this trail will take you around 2 hours 20 minutes to complete.

This trail is popular with horseback riders, hikers and cyclists so be sure to yield to the correct groups. This particular trail will take you up to the top of Pearson Arastradero preserve.

Enjoy beautiful views from the top. It’s important to be wary of snakes, poison oak and ticks in this area. This is another trail dense with wildlife.

There are a variety of trail options in the area. Most of which are open year-round, with some exceptions if there is heavy rainfall. 

Los Trancos, Trappers Fire Road And Steep Hollow Loop

This loop is 6.4 km in length in the Foothills Nature Preserve near Palo Alto, California. With moderate elevation gain, this is a relatively easy-going loop with some challenges to keep you on your toes.

This trail is one of the more secluded, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to feel all alone out in nature then this is a good option. You may come across the occasional runner and hiker, but that’s about it. 

Something worth noting about this trail is there is a $6 entry cost on weekends. However, there is a ban on dogs on the weekends. 

Redtail, Portola Pastures, Meadowlark, And Wild Rye Trail

This is one of the shorter trails in the Palo Alto area, with a distance of 4.8 km. This is a relatively easy route, with only 100 meters elevation gain. Depending on fitness, this route will take you approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to complete. 

Again, this area is popular with horse riders, cyclists, and runners so be aware and be sure to yield when necessary.

Also be aware of snakes, ticks and poison oak. If you have a dog with you, keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t get bitten.

It’s also important to keep them on a leash. If you go at certain times in the day you will find some solitude on the trails, but it can be busy. This trail is open year-round but can be closed if there is a lot of rainfall. 

Arastradero Creek And Acorn Trail Loop

This 4 km loop is considered one of the easiest in the Arastradero area. With under 100 meters elevation gain, this can be enjoyed at a casual pace for any fitness level.

It is worth noting that in 2020 this trail was made a ‘one-way trail’, so be sure to abide by these new regulations, or you may find yourself in a clash with horse riders and cyclists.

And as mentioned in previous trails in the Arastradero Preserve, keep an eager eye out for snakes, ticks, and poison oak, and keep your dog on a lead at all times. 

This trail is open year-round so why not go today? 

Redtail Loop Trail

And finally, for the shortest loop on the list, with a distance of 1.9 km, this loop is perfect for those on a tight schedule and looking to squeeze in a quick bit of exercise, or for families with small children.

The same rules apply for all the other trails in the Arastradero Preserve, so please be sure to abide by them to maintain the integrity of the area. 


There are a wide variety of trails in the Palo Alto area for all levels of hikers, runners, cyclists, and horseback riders.

With a mix of complete loops and out and back trails, you can enjoy some of California’s most beautiful nature preserves.

Be sure to abide by the rules of the preserves, and most importantly, enjoy the wonderful scenery and wildlife!

Megan Rinzel
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