Trail Conditions panorama
Trails and Preserves

Updated June 7, 2017
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Winter Hiking Tips (PDF)

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve Parking Update

Equestrian parking at Sierra Vista will now be by reservation only. Please call the office at 408-224-7476 and make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, and a parking space will be reserved for you.

Current Trail Conditions

Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve: OPEN with no restrictions.
Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve: OPEN with no restrictions.
Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve: OPEN with no restrictions.

New Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Drone Policy

The Authority’s UAS policy prohibits the launching, landing and operation of UAS on or above all Authority lands. Unmanned aerial systems include model aircraft, drones, and quadcopters. The policy applies to all Authority properties and the airspace directly above them. This policy is necessary to preserve Authority Land in its natural state, protect wildlife and natural resources, provide peace, tranquility and enjoyment for visitors to Authority Land, reduce the risk of fire, prevent conflicts in uses of Authority Land, and foster public safety.

The UAS policy provides exceptions for search and rescue operations, fire protection, and law enforcement. The policy also includes a permit system to allow for the use of drones to support scientific studies, resource management and other mission-related uses. For permit requests, please contact our Office Assistant, Alexsis Shields, at 408-224-7476 or

Trail Safety

Be prepared
The best day in the woods is one where everyone has what they need to enjoy themselves. Planning ahead starts with telling someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Dress in layers for a range of weather conditions and carry water. Pack snacks or lunch, especially if you’re hiking with children. Bring a hat, sunblock and a simple first aid kit. Equestrians and cyclists should also plan for the care and maintenance of their transportation.

Regulations for Open Space Authority Lands
• Hiking, cycling and horseback riding are permitted only on designated trails.
• Pets are prohibited.
• Fires, fireworks and smoking are prohibited.
• Do not feed, disturb, molest or kill wildlife.
• Hunting, fishing and trapping are not allowed.
• Possession or use of firearms, pellet guns, paintball guns, bows or slingshots is prohibited.
• All plants, wildlife, geologic and archaeological features are protected.
• Do not collect, remove, destroy or deface any natural or human-made object.

Multi-Use Etiquette
right of way symbolIn order for equestrians, cyclists and hikers to share the trails it’s necessary for everyone to show an extra measure of courtesy. Bicyclists should watch downhill speeds, slow down around hikers and announce their presence. Both hikers and cyclists need to step aside for equestrians. Give horses that extra bit of space, since they don’t always respond in predictable ways.


Open space lands are the home territory of many species including a few that can be challenging to visitors. It’s vital to be aware of your surroundings and follow guidelines for avoiding contact with plants and animals that can cause difficulties.

Poison Oak

Poison Oak
Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) causes an allergic reaction in many people that produces an irritating rash. Learning to recognize the plant, being vigilant against contact, and washing after exposure, including clothing and gear, are the best means of avoiding this nuisance.

A shrubby or climbing plant with three-part leaves that are toothed or lobed, poison oak tends to be green in spring and red in late summer and fall. It is found in chaparral and coastal sage, oak woodlands and riparian habitats. Because it regrows from rootstock, the plant easily recurs after disturbances and is difficult to totally remove from a landscape.


tick photo
Ticks are the leading carrier of disease to humans in the United States. Several species of tick occur in California and may be found in the Bay Area. Because they feed on deer, any environment where deer are found may also be infested with ticks.

To minimize the likelihood of being bitten, it’s important to do a self-check after being in areas where ticks may be found. This should be carried out over several days, since ticks in the nymph stage are small and hard to see but can still bite.

Wearing light-colored clothes, long sleeves and long pants, and tucking pant legs in to socks are ways to make ticks more visible and reduce their access to skin. Researchers at University of California Berkeley found that sitting on logs, collecting firewood and lounging against trees are activities that increase the chances of a tick bite.>


The northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis oreganos) ranges through much of northern California and has been seen on most Authority lands. It is venomous and a bite can be dangerous. The snake will strike if threatened or attacked but generally will retreat if left alone.

A rattlesnake has a thick body and a triangular-shaped head, which is much wider where it joins a distinct neck. Its eyes are hooded with elliptical pupils. This snake often has a series of dark and light bands near the tail, just before the rattles. Not all specimens have rattles, as they can easily break off.

Most bites occur when a snake is startled by accidental contact. Paying attention to where you step, sit or put your hands is an important way to prevent a snake bite. Other precautions include:
• Wearing hiking boots and carry a walking stick.
• Staying on the trail.
• Avoiding tall grass and thick brush.
• Being observant around rocks, downed logs and tree stumps.
• Never picking up a snake.

Mountain Lions
Open lands in the mountains and foothills surrounding the Santa Clara Valley provide the habitat needed for mountain lions to survive. Though rarely seen, mountain lions are known to frequent Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve and have been photographed by surveillance cameras.

Reclusive and solitary, mountain lions usually hunt alone, often at night. They prey mostly on deer but have been known to stalk bighorn sheep, elk, smaller wild mammals and domestic animals. Attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Mountain Lion
For everyone's safety, it’s important to minimize the chance of human-lion encounters. Since research has found that solitary hikers are three times more likely to encounter a lion, hike with a friend or in a group.

If you do see a lion, stay back. Maintain eye contact—cougars perceive this as threatening. Try to appear large by raising your arms or holding your jacket open. Don’t run. Don’t crouch or bend over. Speak in a loud, firm voice. If the lion approaches, fight back. People have effectively defended themselves and others with sticks, rocks or whatever they could grab.

Report any mountain lion encounters on Open Space Authority lands by calling 408-224-7476 or by emailing