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Pond Fond: The Daniels Nature Center in the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve is open weekends throughout the summer season.

Dallying at Daniels

By Al Roberts

DESPITE THE LINGERING DAMP, this really is a perfect time of year to venture outdoors for some exercise and education. Luckily, with the cost of gas headed for the stratosphere, it isn't necessary to load down the SUV and drive all day to the mountains to get a nature fix. One of the prettiest spots in the area can be found at the nearby Alpine Pond at the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve in San Mateo County, part of the extensive Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

The lake can be easily circumnavigated on the easy half-mile Pond Loop Trail, and there is a wheelchair-accessible viewing station. Along the way, look for valley oak, coyote brush, willow and white poplar. With luck and patience, quail might be glimpsed. In any case, it is as close to a Thoreau experience as can reasonably be expected so close to a 21st-century metropolitan region.

The Alpine Pond is also home to the David C. Daniels Nature Center, which is full of displays about wildlife and wildflowers that can help both adult and kid visitors identify the indigenous flora and fauna. The exhibits include a miniature laboratory with microscopes for viewing pond denizens. The center, staffed by knowledgeable docents, is open every weekend during the summer from noon to 5pm. To get to the Alpine Pond, take the Woodside Road exit from 280 and head west to the intersection with Skyline Boulevard, where you turn left and drive approximately seven miles to the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot.

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From the June 29-July 5, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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