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A new hiking trail just opened in the forested hills between Palo Alto and Half Moon Bay.
The Grasshopper Loop Trail is a 1.3-mile circuit that wraps around a rolling hillside above downtown La Honda and passes through grasslands, oak groves and a stand of redwoods. Situated on the coastal side of the Peninsula’s north-south ridgeline, it offers continuous views of the surrounding woodlands, a historic ranch with grazing cattle and, in the distance, the hilltop vineyards and cavernous tunnels of the Clos de la Tech winery.
It is the newest addition to about 12 miles of trails on the La Honda Creek Preserve, a 6,100-acre site managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. This year marks the district’s 50th anniversary, and the Grasshopper Loop brings the total trail distance across the district’s 26 properties to 250 miles.
Many of the district’s trails off of Skyline Boulevard plunge hikers down the steep slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but the Grasshopper trail was designed with casual users in mind.
“It’s fairly flat and wide, so it’s accessible to visitors of diverse abilities,” said district spokeswoman Leigh Ann Gessner. “You could easily take a jog stroller around it.”
During a recent sunny afternoon on the trail, bluebirds flitted around the grassy hillside and meadowlarks sang nearby. The trail passes through a portion of pasture, so it’s possible that hikers encounter cattle on their walks.
It’s available to equestrians and hikers year-round. People can bring leashed dogs, except during calving season, between Aug. 1 and Dec. 15.
Grasshopper Loop is accessible via a trailhead at the end of Sears Ranch Road. There’s a 22-car parking lot and bathroom on site. It doesn’t connect to other trails in the area; however, the Harrington Creek Trail, a 4-mile out-and-back, departs from the same trailhead.
Eventually the district would like to connect the loop to a small hub of trails a few miles north on Allen Road.
Gregory Thomas is The Chronicle’s editor of lifestyle & outdoors. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @GregRThomas