Arastradero Preserve, officially known as Enid W. Pearson–Arastradero Preserve, is a nature preserve that protects most of the Arastradero Creek watershed. The preserve is owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto, California. The main parking lot hosts an interpretive center and is located at 1530 Arastradero Road (37°23'13" N, 122°10'29" W).
Arastradero Preserve consists of rolling savanna grassland hills and evergreen forests; the preserve varies in elevation from 275 feet (84 m) in the northeast to 775 feet (236 m) in the southwest. The preserve contains an abundance of wildlife, including deer, bobcats, coyotes, snakes, and many species of birds. The Pearson–Arastradero Preserve has 10.25 miles (16.50 km) of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. While many of the trails are open year-round, some trails are designated as "seasonal" and are closed at the trailhead temporarily after heavy rain. The preserve and the surrounding area are habitats for the California mountain lion. There have been credible reports of mountain lion sightings in these areas recently. There have also been a number of reports of mountain lion exhibiting an atypical curiosity towards people walking dogs in the preserve.
There are four gates (labeled A, B, C, and D) into the preserve, though public parking is available only at Gate A on the North side. Gate D connects to Foothills Park as part of the Bay-to-Ridge Trail. The park is also accessible from a pedestrian footpath that leads to the residential area on the street Paseo del Roble.
The preserve protects Arastradero Creek, which flows into Matadero Creek at the junction of Arastradero Road and Page Mill Road. Near the East side about a quarter mile south of the entrance is Arastradero Lake, one of two bodies of water within the preserve. The lake is also about 0.2 miles from the Paseo del Roble entrance.
Trails, features, and maps
The trails at Arastradero Preserve include Acorn, Arastradeo Creek, Bay Laurel, Bowl Loop, Juan Bautista de Anza, Meadowlark, Ohlone, Paseo del Roble, Portola Pastures, Redtail Loop, Wild Rye, Woodland Star, and Woodrat. There are also unmarked and/or closed trails in the preserve.
A map of the preserve can be found on the City of Palo Alto web site.
Restoration and stewardship activities
Grassroots Ecology, a local environmental nonprofit, has run a collaborative stewardship program on the Preserve in cooperation with the City of Palo Alto since 1997. Volunteers and Grassroots Ecology staff work to improve the Preserve by eliminating invasive weeds such as non-native thistles, planting native species such as blue wild rye and engaging local youth and community members.
Surroundings and history
Portions of Arastradero Preserve border Foothill Park (on the South side), the Palo Alto Golf Course (on the East side), open land owned by Stanford University (to the North), and one of the campuses of Palo Alto University (to the West). From the hills on the North Side, one can see Felt Lake which is not visible from any other public land. Because most of the golf course in on a flat mesa at a higher elevation than the preserve, the golf course is largely invisible from the preserve.
There remains a small piece of private property adjacent to Arastradero Road surrounded on all sides by the preserve which currently has no structures. There had been a private home deep within the preserve until the late 1990s which has now been torn down.
In 2006 a small visitor's center was erected near the parking lot entrance which contains a miniature scale model of the park and exhibits explaining the ecology, flora, and fauna of the region.