Bay Area Trail Running: Saratoga Gap Trail

This past weekend, June 1st, was National Trails Day. Ever since I heard about the Bay Area Ridge Trail, I’ve been itching to explore segments of this fantastic 340 mile loop that surrounds Silicon Valley. With the imminent Big Basin 50K in just a week, this weekend seemed just perfect to explore the Saratoga Gap Trail as a training run. This blog is also an attempt to start documenting amazing trail runs around the bay area with interactive maps, elevation gains and fun routes. My last attempt at this was the Black Mountain Trail, but didn’t have/know all the cool tech toys back then to document that route in earnest. Hey, gotta start somewhere.

Saratoga Gap Trail

The Saratoga Gap Trail starts at the junction of Highway 35 and 9, about a 30-minute drive from my house. For this run, I was accompanied by 8hasin and we met up at the parking lot around 7am. I had to get up a little early to go through my pre-run ritual of Chia Fresca, not to mention the 30-minute drive to get to the starting line. This particular route was a bowl where we ran downhill for the first half and then began the climb back out for a total elevation gain of 3,000+ feet. We weren’t in a particular hurry and the mostly shaded trails kept us cool despite the warm day in the Bay Area.

Here’s the route:

  • Saratoga Gap
  • Charcoal Road (use the no-bike-route which is a beautiful single track)
  • Table Mountain (took a wrong turn here that ended up costing +3 miles)
  • Canyon (heading up north)
  • Grizzly Flat (all uphill with switchbacks and lots of cobwebs)
  • Peters Creek (cross Skyline to get to this trail)
  • Wards Road
  • Achistaca
  • Saratoga Gap Trail Entrance
    Saratoga Gap Trail Entrance
  • Charcoal Road
    Charcoal Road
  • Grizzly Flat Trail
    Grizzly Flat Trail
  • Peters Creek Trail
    Peters Creek Trail
  • Ward Road
    Ward Road

I was really expecting a lot of bikers, but apparently they only show up mid-day! Right around the Grizzly Flat, we also got a couple of creek crossings over the Stevens Creek. The water felt so good, especially since I was wearing my Luna Sandals. Turned out to be a sweet 16-mile loop though without the wrong turn, would’ve been more of a half marathon.

Have you run the Saratoga Gap Trail? What do you think of this format of the blog for keeping track of interesting trail runs?


Absolutely N.O. spam. Join fellow runners to receive no more than two emails each week with tips on injury-free running, race reports, new trail routes, awesome recipes and amazing interviews.