Bay Area Date Hike to Schilling Lake

Overview: A 1.5 mile, mostly flat and almost completely shaded hike to the romantic Schilling Lake (and it’s dog-friendly!)

Distance: 1.5 Miles

Elevation gained: 200ft

Difficulty: Easy

Hiking time: 1 hour

Season: All year

Getting there: From 280, head West on Highway 84 towards Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35). Turn left into the parking lot

Parking lot address: Click here for directions

Managing agency: Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Trail map: 


Be sure to keep a lookout for migratory birds and California slender salamander when visiting Schilling Lake.
This bridge crosses a seasonal creek just a little ways down the trail. It’s a great place to stop for a picture and enjoy the surrounding oak forest.
The first part of the trail has quite a bit of poison oak, but the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (who manages this preserve) has done a great job at keeping the trail clear. You can impress your date by pointing it out. This is what it looks like.

Nothing brings two people together like some quality time in the great outdoors. For my wife and I, it’s our favorite date night activity and way to share time together.

But let’s be honest, most of us are too busy with other parts of our lives and it’s hard to find time for a romantic outdoor getaway.

That’s why we were so excited when we found the this hike at Thornewood Open Space Preserve: a 1.5-mile hike to Schilling Lake (named after the property’s former owner August Shilling of the Schilling Spice Company). It felt like we had discovered a secret spot, a place all to ourselves.

This hike is relatively close to 280, which makes it easy to get to and convenient for a weeknight date. It’s also a great length if you’re just looking to spend some time together in a beautiful place, but don’t have time for an epic all day adventure.

Schilling Lake (more like a pond actually) itself is a very romantic setting. It almost feels like you’re on a movie set – tucked away in a pocket of tall redwoods, western sword ferns and California bay laurel. And there are big logs right at the edge of the lake where you can sit and enjoy the stillness of nature. A special spot to share with your special someone.

And no date is complete without a meal. The trail happens to be just two miles from Alice’s Restaurant – the perfect place to grab a bite after this micro-adventure. Alice’s has been around a long-time and has more character than your dad’s old boots – and the food’s great too! If you’re craving a burger, be sure to try the Markegard Family Grass-Fed beef. A lot of their cattle graze on POST-protected farmland and these cows are helping restore our local grasslands.

There you have it, folks. The perfect hike date night and fresh air fix for you and that special someone. Drive safe and have fun out there!

If you have time after your hike, drive two miles up the road to Alice’s Restaurant. It’s got great atmosphere and the foods great too! Photo by Food Nut CC
If you’ve got a hankering for a burger after your hike, try the Markegard Grass-fed burger patty! It’s delicious and supports our local grasslands.

In 2000, POST assisted in the permanent protection of approximately 30 acres on the southeast corner of the Thornewood Open Space Preserve, which is now managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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