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The Stanford Dish Hike

A scenic 4-mile loop on steep, paved trails with great views on Stanford University and the San Francisco Bay.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.039 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview :  The Stanford Dish loop is a popular route for Stanford University students as well as Silicon Valley professionals. Its steep paved... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Stanford Avenue street-side parking

There is lots of space for street side parking on Stanford Avenue, but it can fill up quickly, especially on sunny days, so you may have to park several hundred yards away.

U-turns are prohibited on Stanford Ave. This rule is frequently enforced, so to avoid a ticket don't make a U-turn when you see a parking spot at the opposite side of the... More

2. Stanford Avenue Entrance

Enter the Dish area here and don't forget to greet the friendly guard. Many joggers stop here to stretch.

To start the Dish trail simply follow the paved trail leading up the hill.

3. Junction (near Stanford Avenue entrance)

Turn left here the follow the Dish loop in clockwise direction. Where the trail enters a short tree-lined section it will become quite steep for a short while.

4. Highest point

After a sustained climb you've reached the highest point of the Dish loop. Several ups and downs are still to come, but it's mostly down.

Enjoy the views on Stanford, the foothills and the San Francisco Bay. On clear days you can even see San Francisco's skyline from here.

5. Junction (near the actual Dish)

Continue straight on here, unless you want to add another mile or 2 on the backside of the Dish, which is an out and back variant.

6. Junction (near the Campus Loop entrance)

Take a right here to loop back to the start. There are a couple of ups and downs still waiting for you, but most of the hills are behind you now.

7. Home stretch

After a short and steep downhill section you are on the home stretch. From here only a final short climb will follow towards the very end.

You'll pass about a dozen houses on the left of the trail, with gardens extending toward the Dish trail, some of who have a gates to dish trail. Sounds like a great place to live? Prices of these houses vary... More

8. The Dish

The Stanford Dish is a radio telescope and a major landmark that is clearly visible from Stanford University and from Highway 280.

The 150-foot diameter dish was built in 1966 by the Stanford Research Institute. The cost to construct the telescope was $4.5 million, and was funded by the United States Air Force, with the original purpose of... More

9. Water fountain

This is the only drink water available in the Dish area. To access it, take the downward sloping side trail to the left. The water fountain is located on your right, just below the main trail.