The vista point parking area along Highway 35 sports a spectacular view. It’s about 8.5 miles south of Highway 84 and depending on the smog level or cloud layer, you might be able to see the entire south end of San Francisco Bay.
The 285-foot Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, home of the Hoover Institution, can be seen from this location. Established by Herbert Hoover, this facility was used to house a library and an archive concerning issues of war, revolution, and peace. Now its scholars focus on economic opportunity and prosperity, as well as peace.
A giant parabolic-shaped hangar can be seen to the south. It is a remnant of the time when the US Navy housed its airships at Moffett Field. Constructed in the 1930s, this landmark encompasses eight acres of land. In February 2014, NASA announced that the tech company Google had signed a $1.16 billion, 60-year lease for the Moffett Airfield. Google plans to allocate $200 million to rehabilitate the three hangars and two runways, as well as the site’s 18-hole golf course, and use the space to develop robots, rovers, and drones.
Downtown San Jose can also be seen from this point. Mission Peak and Mount Diablo loom above the East Bay. If you visit on a clear day, you might see the Bay Bridge and the city of San Francisco, with a backdrop of Mount Tamalpais.
To the north, the Cloud’s Rest trail leads down into the Coal Creek Open Space Preserve and its network of mostly wooded trails. The preserve is named after Coal Mine Ridge. In the 1850s, settlers opened a coal mine that produced a low-grade lignite. Customers who burned the coal complained that it was oily and emitted a most unpleasant odor, so the mine had little future even before it was destroyed by a landslide.
Across Skyline Boulevard is the first of two entrances to the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve and its extensive network of trails. Wildflowers decorate the meadows in late spring.
The ridge is named after a Russian family, although the family’s name has been lost over time. They leased the dairy ranch on the east side of the ridge. Later, a small Russian Orthodox retreat center was built on the site.
From an elevation of 2,572 feet atop Borel Hill, you can gain even more of a bird’s eye view than from Vista Point. When the fog recedes from the coast, you can see a great expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Locals love to inform gullible visitors that you can see all the way to Hawaii from here.
Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour
This piece is part of the South Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) Tour made possible by Janet Schwind and the Skyline Historical Society. Download the free app with many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond.