On March 7, D. and I visited the Dish Loop at Stanford University. The Dish Loop is a 3.7-mile trail on a portion of Stanford's Academic Reserve dedicated to field research activities and is also enjoyed by visitors for recreational purposes. It is one of the last unbroken expanses of open space in the lower foothills. It is not a public park, but Stanford graciously allows people (on foot only, no bikes or skates) to walk, run and hike on the trail (no picnicking, though; there are no benches and no bathrooms). Stanford's 150'-diameter radio telescope ("Big Dish"), used for SETI research, is located here, as is a smaller radio telescope ("Little Dish"), and other unique antennae. Other research and teaching programs also use the dish area for environmental study and habitat restoration. It was a beautiful day for a walk, so we went there and took some pics. Mine first.
We begin at the Stanford gate.
One of the many picturesque valley oaks coming into leaf.
The ground squirrels were utterly unfazed by people. This one was foraging right next to the trail.
The path winds over the hills and dales of the Dish Loop.
Big Dish, one of Stanford's radio telescopes for which the area is named, makes its first appearance over the crest of a hill as we proceed along the trail.
Big Dish plays hide-and-seek with us during our progress.
The Hoover Tower pokes up from the Stanford campus into a view of the East Bay Hills and Mt. Diablo in the background.
The path meanders along.
A pair of red-tailed hawks uses this enormous antenna as a perch.
We get another angle on the East Bay Hills and Hoover Tower as the trail rises.
Ground squirrels are rather clumsy in trees. The oak flowers seem to be irresistible, though.
The loop turns to the west and we begin to see a sliver of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Radio telescopes are not the only kind of astronomy equipment up here. We find a conventional optical telescope tucked into the hillside.
A couple of valley oaks in new leaf.
The view northwest. That dark smudge on the distant horizon is Mt. Tamalpais.
The view west and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The path takes us along, turning to the south.
Big Dish plays peek-a-boo as we draw nearer.
Finally we see Big Dish in all its glory.
The dish is fascinating geometry.
What does it hear emanating from distant galaxies?
We move along the path as Big Dish recedes in the distance behind us.
What awaits us over the hill?
It's Little Dish!
Little Dish does not have quite the same charisma as Big Dish. But golden eagles are known to perch on it while scanning for prey.
Valley oaks are magnificent trees.
A ground squirrel soaks up the sun near Little Dish.
Grazing cattle visit a vernal pool near Little Dish.
As the path turns to the final section of the loop, we behold a magnificent view to the southeast into the Santa Clara Valley.
Looking south toward Mt. Umunhum.
They even have a solar observatory here (on a private road). Big Dish is in the background, on the opposite side of the loop.
Red shrubs glow in the late afternoon light near the Stanford gate.
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D. took the following pics.
Another version of the picturesque valley oak near the beginning of our walk.
One of the many blasé ground squirrels poking around right next to the path, within arm's reach of people.
Valley oak leaves and flowers.
There were several white fire hydrants along the northern edge of the loop, and what looked like the tops of cisterns. They seemed to coincide with an underground aqueduct for the City of San Francisco. (I wonder if it could be the continuation of the Secret Sidewalk? )
A great blue heron stalks lunch in a meadow next to a little stream.
A red-shouldered hawk soars overhead.
The arc of the San Mateo Bridge is barely visible above the trees.
Bunnies! A jackrabbit and a cottontail romp and frolic in the brush.
The path leads us onward.
The Dumbarton Bridge, connecting the Peninsula with the East Bay.
Another ground squirrel in a tree, going after the enticing flowers.
A view to the north and Mt. Tamalpais. The little white blob in the center of the pic is our local zeppelin out on a pleasure cruise.
Looking east to Oakland.
Mt. Hamilton is to the southeast.
Looking past Stanford's Hoover Tower to the Diablo Range across the Bay.
A white-tailed kite hovers over the hillside looking for something to eat.
Strange antennae sit across the trail from Big Dish.
Big Dish rises slowly into view above the trees.
Somber geometry, structured to receive faint signals from deep space.
Looking back at Big Dish as the path leads onward.
Little Dish pokes up from beyond the hill.
There were some other antennas up there, including one called the Eiffel Tower, and a disused ham radio antenna.
Mt. Diablo to the northeast.
One last look at the white-tailed kite still hunting the hillsides as we head on our way back home.