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    • On a sunny and warm day in March, we decided to go out and enjoy nature. Windy Hill Preserve in Portola Valley, California, is one of the hidden gems for hiking that is within a 30-minute drive from San Jose or San Francisco. For a trail map and information about Windy Hill visit openspace.org

    • We've done a few hikes at Windy Hill Preserve before, and if you plan on starting from Portola Valley up, we recommend hiking up Hamms Gulch Trail. It is mostly shaded and scenic. Once at the top, take the Spring Ridge Trail down, enjoying the open views of the entire Silicon Valley. On a clear day, you can even see San Franciso and Oakland skyline.

    • The entrance from Portola Valley is somewhat hidden, but the plenty of parking in the dirt parking lot. Weekends are busy, and some people park on the road.

    • The Hamms Gulch up and Ridge Trail down loop is 8 miles long and takes about 3 hours to hike.

    • All trail intersections are marked, but having a map handy helps figure out the distances.

    • A small creek crossing has so many tiny butterflies swarming around. It was challenging to get a picture of one.

    • Banana slugs are hiding in the shade of the trail. Keep an eye on these harmless creatures. Fun fact: banana slug is a mascot of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    • The Windy Hills is windy on most days. On this day, it was exceptionally calm. The two hills on the top left photo is where the wind kicks in.

    • In this photo, you can see the Spring Ridge Trail weaving down the hill with Stanford University campus in the distance.