Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains at the intersection of highways 35 (Skyline Boulevard) and 84 (Woodside Road), the communities of Skywood and Skylonda perch high above the rest of the Peninsula, with sweeping Bay and woodland views.
With their neighborhoods bordering such outdoor treasures as the La Honda and Thornewood open space preserves and Wunderlich County Park, residents say Skywood and Skylonda can't be beat for nature lovers looking to make their home in the secluded Coast Range while still enjoying (relatively) quick access to the bustling Silicon Valley world below.
"We have fabulous views. More than half the homes here have an incredible view of the bay and the others have the woods," says Kathleen Braunstein, a Skywood resident since 1983.
Skywood is a planned community (within Woodside borders, but kids go to Portola Valley schools) of around 80 homes, each of which has 1.5 to 3 acres of land, insuring a rural, peaceful home atmosphere. The homes are all custom built.
Unincorporated Skylonda, across the highway, has fewer homes, including some log cabins, and is more of a "hodgepodge" of rustic styles, she says.
Though it may seem remote from the rest of the world, there is a real sense of community among neighbors.
An active homeowner's association holds an annual picnic, barbecue or event of some kind and maintains a community website, Ms. Braunstein says.
Catherine Lamar, who's called Skywood home for the past 12 years, says one of her neighbors has a vineyard and provides wine for the annual gathering.
"All the neighbors get together; it's so nice that way," she says.
The windy, steep location can prove daunting to visitors, however.
"Friends say, 'Oh, I don't want to drive all the way up there, it's so far,' but it's really only a 10-minute drive to 280 or into town in Woodside," Ms. Lamar says. Downtown Palo Alto and Menlo Park are a 20- to 25-minute drive.
"You do want to plan your day and do all the errands you can think of before you come back up the hill," Ms. Lamar says.
Up at the top, the Trading Post convenience store, a gas station and Alice's Restaurant meet the essential needs of Skywood and Skylonda residents -- as well as serving as a meeting place for friends.
"I always run into my neighbors there. It's really cool," Ms. Lamar says.
-- Karla Kane
FIRE STATION: 3111 Woodside Road, Woodside
LOCATION: south of Wunderlich County Park between Highway 84 and La Honda Open Space Preserve
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Skywood Association: Matt Richter, 650-529-9793; Skylonda Area Association
PARK: Wunderlich County Park, 4040 Woodside Road, Woodside
I Portola Valley School District== -- Ormondale School, 200 Shawnee Pass Road, Portola Valley; Corte Madera School, 4575 Alpine Road, Portola Valley
Sequoia Union High School District -- Woodside High School, 199 Churchill Avenue, Woodside
SHOPPING: Four Corners, Highways 84 and 35, Woodside Road, Woodside and Redwood City
MEDIAN 2011 HOME PRICE: $1,100,000 ($399,000-$5,400,000)
HOMES SOLD: 19