Italian Trail (or Upper Chaparral or Lower Chaparral) to Sunset Trail to Sunset Vista Point and back.
2.5 miles in-and-out; 1 hour 45 min; moderate
This short trail, shared by hikers and equestrians, is more challenging than it might initially seem because it's all uphill going in. The total elevation gain is 600 feet, and it gets very hot here in summertime, so bring water.
Park in front of the ranch house and walk through the back yard toward the big apple tree, near the stables. The trailhead is just beyond the tree. Whether you take shaded, woodsy Italian Trail or less-shaded but shorter Upper or Lower Chaparral, all eventually lead to Sunset Trail. (Note: Lower Chaparral gets pretty boggy in winter.)
Once on Sunset you'll veer close to Quail Hollow Road, then away from it again. The trail then winds around a big sandhill outcropping (people have carved their names in the sandy cliffside here), where you’ll see Santa Cruz cypress as well as knobcone pine with their long skinny cones stuck to their trunks. The view to the left is of the San Lorenzo Valley and the landfill (actually very well camouflaged).
The trail leads up through chaparral that gives way to bay and oak woodland with occasional stands of redwood. A huge variety of mushrooms grow here in the winter, and wildflowers in spring and early summer. Beyond the two benches overlooking the ranch complex (a little more than halfway up the trail), and beyond the new picnic table area installed in 2012 by Eagle Scouts (bless them), you’ll finally reach the bizarre dwarf redwood forest. The Sunset Trail bench at the top overlooks the entire park, several quarries, lower San Lorenzo Valley and part of Zayante Valley.
Back to Quail Hollow Ranch.
Quail Hollow Ranch is at 800 Quail Hollow Road, Felton.