Tucked into a valley at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Hidden Villa transports you from go-go-go Silicon Valley to a quiet farm with adorable farm animals, creekside hiking trails, and Santa Clara Valley vistas. This 5.4-mile loop explores Hidden Villa’s seasonal creeks and climbs sunny ridgelines to sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, Diablo Range, and Santa Cruz Mountains just a handful of miles from downtown Los Altos.
This creek-filled loop is especially pretty in the rainy season when the creeks are flowing; they do tend to dry up by fall. While the farm is kid-friendly, this hike will be challenging for a kid. A great alternative would be the Creek Trail-Pipeline Trail loop, a 1.8-mile hike along Adobe Creek. Likewise, folks looking for a shorter but no less beautiful hike can skip the Long Bunny Loop and head straight to the Creek Trail for a 3.7-mile, 1000-foot gain hike on the Creek Trail, Ewing Hill Trail, and Hostel Trail.
Hidden Villa is a working farm and educational non-profit purchased in 1924 by Josephine and Frank Duvaneck. Living in Palo Alto at the time, the Duvanecks loved the open space of Hidden Villa. Initially, it was their family ranch, where they lived and raised their four children. In the ensuing decades, it grew into a home base for environmental, educational, and social justice causes the Duvanecks supported.
Before Josephine passed away in 1978—the same year her autobiography, Life on Two Levels, was published—and Frank in 1985, they established the non-profit Hidden Villa Trust to carry their vision forward. Today, it hosts day hikers, summer camps, programs for kids, field trips, retreats, and nature-based classes. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables grown on the farm are available to the public for purchase, and a portion is donated to a local food bank. Seeing the farm up close, as well as historic buildings, is more than a hike; it feels like a step back in time.
The Farm and Hiking Trails
Hidden Villa is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is generally closed from June to August for the summer camp season. Guests are asked to pay a $10 entrance fee and make a reservation on hiddenvilla.org. Choose a two-hour timeframe to arrive and stay as long as you like until closing at 5:00 p.m. The entrance fee is good for a carload.
As you pass through the farm on your way to the trails, you’ll likely see farm animals such as lambs, goats, hogs, and chickens. They are all part of the working farm, and so guests are asked not to feed them or enter their pens without a guide.
Behind the farm, eight miles of interconnecting hiking trails wind through the Adobe Creek watershed and up to ridgeline vistas of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley. Winter and spring wildflowers like Pacific hound’s tongue, milkmaids, and globe lilies grow along Hidden Villa’s trails. Birds such as red-shouldered hawks swoop the fields, and California quail and American robins forage among shrubs.
Hidden Villa Grand Loop
Begin your hike at the Hidden Villa welcome kiosk in the main parking lot. Take the trail left of the kiosk along a wooden fence, passing under olive trees. High above, the Santa Cruz Mountain foothills rise and bend gracefully over the valley. On your left is Hidden Villa’s hostel. It is the first hostel on the west coast of the United States, originally built in 1937. Today it is a popular spot for overnight guests.
Further up the lane on your right is the Tin Barn, built in 1900. Home to lambs, it is wonderful and heart-warming to see them poking their heads out of the barn door. If you happen to stop by when a guide is present, you may be able to go inside and see them up close.
Past the Tin Barn is a Y-junction with a goat and pig outline on a post. Signs point left for the Creek Trailhead and right for the Bunny Loop Trails. Straight ahead is the White House, built in 1860 to house overnight guests traveling to the coast via horse and carriage. Back then, a roadway ran through Hidden Villa that was part of a stagecoach route between Mountain View and Pescadero. Left of the White House is the White Barn, also built in 1860, which housed horses that pulled the carriages. Today, it’s home to cute and jumpy goats.
Turn right at the Y-junction towards the Bunny Loop Trails. The yellow, Mediterranean-style home on your right is the former Duvaneck family home, built in 1929. Today it is used for Hidden Villa programs and administration.
Long Bunny Loop
Follow the trail signs into a ravine with overarching bay trees and ferny hillsides. In the rainy season, Bunny Creek’s short cascades step-drop down from the mountainside.
Bear right at a signed junction to stay on the Long Bunny Loop. As you climb, gaining 375 feet over the next 0.7 miles, electric green maidenhair ferns float along the trail like fireflies beneath bursts of red toyon berries in the wintertime. Bunny Creek is a loyal companion, sporting taller cascades on the upper part of the creek.
Cross Bunny Creek at the 1.0-mile mark, leaving it behind for a sunny and dry forest. Gaps in madrone and manzanita reveal Mount Diablo, Mission Peak, and San Francisco Bay to the northeast. The loop dovetails into the Bypass Trail on your descent, ending at an oasis-like confluence of the West, Middle, and East Forks of Adobe Creek. Picnic tables and benches are scattered beside the creek.
The Creek Trail
Cross wooden bridges onto the Creek Trail at the 2.0-mile mark, arguably the most beautiful trail in Hidden Villa. The trail parallels Adobe Creek, framed by mossy tree trunks and sloping, fern-covered hillsides. Continue along the Creek Trail for a mile, passing junctions for the Pipeline and Grapevine Trails on your left. The Creek Trail dovetails into the Ewing Hill Trail.
Ewing Hill and Black Mountain Trails
Climb a moderately steep 420 feet over the next 0.7 miles on the Ewing Hill Trail. The mostly shady forest of bay and toyon gradually transitions to shrubby sagebrush and chamise. Up-close views of the breathtaking Santa Cruz Mountain foothills dominate the surrounding vistas. A sign marks the boundary of Rancho San Antonio, an adjacent Midpeninsula preserve you will pass through briefly.
Turn right at an unsigned wooden post towards the Black Mountain Trail; to the left is a vista of the Santa Clara Valley. This is the high point of your hike at 1240 feet elevation. Although there will be some more uphill sections, the hike trends downhill from here back to Hidden Villa. At the next junction, turn left onto the Black Mountain Trail, heading north for 0.3 miles.
Hostel Trail to Hidden Villa
At nearly the 4.0-mile mark, turn left at a signed junction onto the Hostel Trail towards Hidden Villa. As you pass under buckeye trees, look north over Moody Road below to see the Stanford campus, Hoover Tower, and San Francisco Bay.
A green gate and Hidden Villa sign announce your return to Hidden Villa property as you continue your descent on the Hostel Trail. Just beyond the gate, pass a junction for the Grapevine Trail on your left. Glimpses of the farm and foothills come into view as you descend back into the now-familiar bay canopy and ferny hillsides. The trail ends in front of the Hidden Villa hostel. Stay straight to return to the main parking lot or, if your heart pulls you, turn left to see the farm animals once more.