Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (Stanford University)

This past thursday I took a docent-led tour, with 3 other friends, at Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. http://jrbp.stanford.edu/

It’s located very close to Highway 280, off of Sand Hill Road. If you’re passing-by on 280, and look at the ridge behind the Stanford Linear Accelerator building, you now know the name of that wooded ridge!


I first heard about this interesting place because I was watching the Santa Cruz Puma Project (http://santacruzpumas.org/) via Twitter (@WeiWei82). They do a fascinating job of collaring and tracking the local population of Pumas/Mountain Lions/Panthers/Cougars/Catamounts. (5 names for the same species, “Puma concolor”!).

One of the related Tweets, or Re-Tweets was from someone who posts game camera photos for Jasper Ridge (@JRWildlife). I started watching those Tweets and looked into their work. To make a short story long [sic], I noticed they give public tours, and I signed-up myself and a few interested friends: http://jrbp.stanford.edu/tours.php

Meeting at a “secret” gate, on Sand Hill Road, our docent led us up the gravel road


…to a large and airy research building, built in 2002:


Inside there were offices, a library, a kitchen area, a sitting area, and some other areas we did not see…



A small glass case with some local artifacts:


After signing the obligatory “liability waiver” and a quick safety briefing about staying together on the trail and “no petting the rattlesnakes, ticks, mountain lions, and poison oak”, off we went!


Our docent, Ann, was really great! She earned her Master’s from Stanford many years ago on this very property. She really knew her plants and animals and enjoyed sharing it with us. We couldn’t have asked for more!

A portion of San Francisquito Creek:


Beautiful trails for a few miles (with a low frequency hum coming from the direction of SLAC)



Some unexpected surprises, that would not be left untouched in a public park!


Replicas, I’ve been told:


The lower face of the Searsville Dam, with some small underwater “critter traps” and 3 species of dragonflies and damsel flies entertaining us! (The dam is a “spillover” dam, which we were told is quite a sight in the rainy season!)


We were surprised to see some “Tafoni” on our walk. We were all familiar with the tafoni formation in the El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_ecdm.asp

I had also recently been made aware of another formation, as well (includes links to explain “tafoni”): https://alpharoaming.com/2014/02/26/neilyoung/

This one, not being up in the hills, was an unexpected pleasure!



We later circled around on the trails and walked across the Searsville Dam. It was quite a dropoff, with only an iron pipe railing.

Searsville Dam Photo courtesy of Anne Keller

Searsville Dam
Photo courtesy of Anne Keller


That’s it! We thanked our docent, and left a cash donation (Donation envelopes were at the sign-in desk, but there was no specific request or pressure. We thought it would be a good idea!) A great, leisurely walk-and-talk of about 2 hours. Now when I pass by Sand Hill Road on 280, I’ll look beyond the SLAC Accelerator building at the ridge and know what cool stuff is just on the other side!

About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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