The Stanford Dish Trail is an easy 3.6 mile walk on the Stanford Campus. The wide paved path that winds along the rolling hills adjacent to the campus is popular with walkers and runners. While the trail overall is an accessible, family-friendly walking route, there are some steep sections. If you begin your walk at the Stanford Avenue trailhead the initial climb will get your blood pumping!
The Oak trees that scatter the preserve offer little shade on the exposed trail. The Stanford Dish Trail is named after the radiotelescope, which can be seen prominently from the high points of the trail. Sometimes the radiotelescope will be moving slowly, and in my mind I always picture groups of scientists in high-tech bunkers puzzling over long equations and bits of code, trying to get the angle of the dish just right. Although the Dish is a prominent feature on the trail, there is plenty of time to enjoy the landscape and the sweeping views of Palo Alto and the East Bay hills.
The university’s conservation biology program works to restore the area around the dish by nurturing native plants and grasses, and by protecting the habitats of threatened animals like the California tiger salamander. There are signs of wildlife all over the park, and for such a popular trail there are often wildlife sightings. Coyotes, bobcat, and deer inhabit the land but are often elusive, but the wild turkeys are much easier to hear and spot.
The Stanford Dish Trail is open from sunrise to sunset. For a monthly list of hours visit Stanford’s website.
The loop trail has three entrances, but the most popular trailhead is at the intersection of Stanford Ave. and Junipero Serra Blvd.
This easy to follow, paved loop trail is popular with runners and walkers. Some sections of the trail are steep, but overall it is an easy hike.
Parking: Street parking is available on Stanford Avenue, but at peak times finding a space can be a challenge.
Fee: No fee