Bay Area Trail Running – Sanborn Park

Last time I was at the Sanborn Park was when I ran the 2012 Summit Rock Half Marathon. As part of my Bay Area Trail Running series that I started this summer, I figured it’s time I went back there to run in single track trails amongst redwoods and I wasn’t disappointed. Sanborn Park is a lushly wooded park nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains between Saratoga and Skyline Boulevard. There isn’t a huge network of trails here, but the couple of trails all involve serious climbing. Sanborn Park is much more of an RV campground and picnic spot, but it’s hard to say no to running through redwoods.

Sanborn Park

The entrance to the Sanborn Park is off of Highway 9 as you start the drive up from Saratoga downtown. You can pay the $6 day-pass at the automated machine by the park entrance if you get there before 8am. I parked near the Sequoia Group Area, pretty close to the amphitheater where the trail head is. This is a fairly strenuous run with most of the climbing in the first 3 miles. The 11.5 mile run has a total elevation gain of 2,616 feet and has two out-and-backs along Skyline Trail.


Start off on the Nature Trail behind the amphitheater. Follow San Andreas Trail until it connects to Peterson Memorial Trail. This one’s is a straight up ascent with not as many switchbacks as Sanborn Trail. Run/hike up the trail until it connects up to Sanborn Trail. When you get to Skyline Trail, make a left and head towards Sunnyvale Mountain, about 1.2 miles to the parking lot. Turn around and follow Skyline Trail back, past Sanborn Trail and continue up to Indian Rock. After the second turn around, head back down on Sanborn Trail (the no-bikes-sign) and then to San Andreas Trail. The switchbacks definitely brought back memories from the half marathon. All I remembered was that the trails were fairly technical and you have to watch your footfall. Tons of rocks and roots waiting to get you. When you are almost down, follow the Nature Trail to the Park Headquarters.

  • Sanborn Park
    Sanborn Park

Here’s the route:

  • Nature Trail behind Amphitheater
  • San Andreas Trail
  • Right on Sanborn Trail
  • Left on Skyline Trail
  • Turn-around at Sunnyvale Mountain
  • Turn-around at Indian Rock
  • Left on Sanborn Trail
  • Left on San Andreas Trail
  • Follow Nature Trail to Park Headquarters

Have you run in Sanborn Park? What’s your favorite route?

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