Stanford University trail opens | News | Palo Alto Online |


Stanford University trail opens

A decade in the making, trail offers panoramic views of the Bay Area

A long-awaited public hiking trail that has been a decade in the making will open Friday, May 20.

The new trail, called the Matadero Trail, is the "S1" route in the Santa Clara Countywide Trails Master Plan. The trail runs on Stanford University land from the south corner of Page Mill Road and Foothill Expressway and alongside Page Mill to Deer Creek Road. It crests over a ridge and winds down to where Arastradero Road crosses under Interstate 280.

The path over the ridge is designed for pedestrians. Separate lanes planned for bicyclists will continue along Deer Creek Road. At the high point of the trail, hikers will have views of the San Francisco skyline, bridges across the bay, Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton.

"This trail was a long time coming. It is beautiful, and we are pleased that the public can now enjoy it," Larry Horton, senior associate vice president for public affairs at Stanford, said.

Stanford Director of Land Use and Environmental Planning Charles Carter, who oversaw the trail's development, praised the county Parks and Recreation Department for its collaboration in designing and building the trail.

"This isn't a nature trail per se, but it crosses a variety of landscapes where one can see native oak trees, riparian communities, grasslands and wildflowers, birds and other wildlife. I hope people enjoy it and recognize how Stanford's stewardship of its land resources yields public benefits."

Hikers should plan to walk or bicycle to the trail since the area offers no public parking. The trail is open from sunrise to sunset, Stanford officials said. Although maintained by Stanford, the trail will come under the auspices of Santa Clara County. Stanford has granted a land-use easement to the county.

"I walked the lower part of the trail two weeks ago myself and enjoyed it a lot. It's a great addition to our recreational opportunities," Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss said.

Building the trail was one of more than 100 conditions contained in the 2000 General Use Permit (GUP), which is Stanford's long-term land-use agreement with Santa Clara County. The GUP governs land use on more than 4,000 acres of Stanford land within Santa Clara County.

— Palo Alto Online staff

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Like this comment
Posted by trail to nowhere
a resident of College Terrace
on May 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

There is no parking at the trailhead. They want you to ride your bicycle there, but bicycles are not allowed on the most of the trail. Is anyone really going to use this thing?

Like this comment
Posted by A walker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I agree with the Weekly's editorial - a trail to nowhere! How does one get to it? Walk along Foothill Exp? Cross Page Mill with its huge number of commuters whizzing through? And when you get to the end, how do you get to trails leading to Pearson-Arastradero Preserve? Cross under the freeway, walk along Page Mill again? and on the shoulder of Arastradero Road to the Preserve? Stanford could have given the public a trail that runs under the freeway and right to the Preserve. Maybe Stanford has plans to develop the Dish in the future?

Like this comment
Posted by trail to nowhere
a resident of College Terrace
on May 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Here is the trail that everyone was expecting: Web Link

It starts from Old Page Mill Road, safely crosses under I-280, and ends at the Arastradero Preserve. The trail is called the Matedero Trail because it follows the Matedero Creek (which is north of Page Mill Expressway).

The trail the Stanford actually built is a scam on so many levels. Most importantly, it doesn't take you anywhere near the Arastradero Preserve. Even the name "Matedero Trail" is a scam since the trail on the south side of Page Mill Expressway is not near Matedero Creek.

Like this comment
Posted by phil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

A little bit of history is called for here. The agreement between Stanford and the county was to build Stanford's portion of the S-1 trail, which on the county maps, follows Old Page Mill but goes under the 280 freeway at Page Mill. Then it goes up through the Liddecourt Circle neighborhood to Arastradero Preserve. Stanford quickly saw that this would not work (even if you could get under the freeway without getting killed there, the Los Altos Hills residents would oppose a county trail going through their neighborhood). Stanford proposed the alternative which we eventually got, but it was opposed (with good reason) for straying too far from the original trail route. The College Terrace neighborhood association proposed an alternative route which followed Old Page Mill (as in the county maps) but then paralleled the north side of the freeway to the service tunnel, went under the freeway and then connected over Stanford land to Arastradero. Stanford accepted that alternative but it was strongly opposed by (1) the folks living along route, and (2) the folks who wanted a trail deeper into Stanford's land (the weblink that "trail to nowhere" posted). Because of the opposition, Caltrans refused to consider allowing access to its land along the freeway (even though that land had once belonged to Stanford). So we ended up back with Stanford's original proposal which was approved by the county about 6 years ago but delayed by law suits.

I strongly favored the College Terrace/Stanford compromise and think we really missed an opportunity to get a much more useful trail (although it would have been closer to traffic in places than the current trail). Stanford never considered the "Stanford Trails" alternative (which the website pushed as an opportunity to connect the county regional trails to the "dish" area), and based on the agreement with the county Stanford never could have been forced to supply an easement over that route. A lot of people wished that that was the trail Stanford had considered, but despite what "trail to nowhere" says, few people really expected that one, much less "everyone."

To Walker, the current plans call for the continuation of the trail along Arastradero road under the freeway near Purissima to the Arastradero Preserve. Much of that trail already exists and Stanford has offered Los Altos Hills a million to complete the connections. I think there is a Los Altos Hills council meeting next week to consider completing their portion of the S1 trail, but as always there is likely to be a lot of opposition from people who don’t like trails near their neighborhoods.

Sorry to be so long-winded.

Like this comment
Posted by trail to nowhere
a resident of College Terrace
on May 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

The meandering route through Los Altos and Los Altos Hills out to Purissima and back to Arastradero Preserve is so long that few people are actually going to do that. The Old Page Mill Road route to the Arastradero Preserve is much much shorter and more practical. Shame on Stanford for opposing the route that all the real trail users wanted. And double shame on them for taking 10 years to build a trail to nowhere.

Like this comment
Posted by Chronic whiners
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thanks, phil for providing three real history. Too bad some people only like to whine and bash stanford. People forget that stanford cannot give away their land which may be needed for future use. Get over it, whiners. You have the dish

Like this comment
Posted by Chronic whiners
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

BTW, there was am recently nasty and vitriolic letter in todays (monday) Daily Post staying that stanford was giving palo alto the middle finger over this trail issue and the city should refuse permission for the med center project until stanford gives palo alto what this person wants. Maybe the letter writer should hold his breath until stanford caves in. time to rethink open access typo the dish area for palo alto residents

Like this comment
Posted by trail to nowhere
a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

There's a good editorial on the trail to nowhere in the current (print) issue of the Palo Alto Weekly. Talks about how Stanford was yanking Palo Alto's chain the whole time and never intended to build a trail that was really useful to the public. They recommend that Palo Alto think twice the next time Stanford comes asking for political favors, since this trail is a big SCAM.

Like this comment
Posted by Chronic whiners
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Then the editors are clearly not familiar with the history of the trail and the obvious reasons why stanford cannot give up land that they may need for future use. Too bad that the editors and the chronic whiners do not do some homework before playing fast and loose with the facts. Seems that liz kniss likes the new trail. Time to rethink free access to the dish for palo alto residents. Some people feel a sense of entitlement to private property-read pills history to see how others like to protect their property/privacy. Why should stanford be different?

Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I just looked at the editorial for the first time. It makes some good points, particularly in regards to the C1 trail, which we are not discussing here. But it is embarrassing how they ignore the offer Stanford made to run the trail between Christopher Lane and the freeway to the "cow" tunnel and on to Arastradero Preserve. This was the same route I first saw proposed on the College Terrace website. But enough "trail advocates" rejected that concession by Stanford, and without a community consensus, there was no hope of approval by Caltrans. I'm sure the editorial writers remember, but it was easier to assign blame by not mentioning it. I also think the county was too quick to accept the route that was chosen, another factor not mentioned (Liz Kniss was the only one to vote against the current route, although she now seems to like it). Remember that Stanford was dealing with Santa Clara County, not "Stanford Trails" or the Committee for Green Foothills.

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