Los Trancos Creek

Los Trancos Creek
Los Stancos Creek, Los Staneos Creek,
Stancos Creek, Strancos Creek[1][2]
Los Trancos Creek just upstream from Piers Lane Bridge with perennial pools at end July 2011.
Name origin: Spanish language
Country United States
State California
Region Northwestern Santa Clara County
and southeastern San Mateo County
 - right Buckeye Creek (East Fork Los Trancos Creek)
City Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Stanford University
 - location Los Trancos Open Space Preserve on the northwest slope of Monte Bello Ridge
 - elevation 2,080 ft (634 m)
 - coordinates 37°24′26″N 122°14′15″W / 37.40722°N 122.23750°W / 37.40722; -122.23750 [1]
Mouth San Francisquito Creek
 - location West edge of Stanford University below Interstate 280
 - elevation 164 ft (50 m)
 - coordinates 37°24′50″N 122°11′30″W / 37.41389°N 122.19167°W / 37.41389; -122.19167Coordinates: 37°24′50″N 122°11′30″W / 37.41389°N 122.19167°W / 37.41389; -122.19167 [1]

Los Trancos Creek (meaning "barriers" or "cattle guards" from the Spanish "Las Trancas"[2]) is a creek that flows northerly from Monte Bello Ridge on the northeast slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains to its confluence with San Francisquito Creek at Stanford University in California, United States of America. The creek forms the boundary between northwestern Santa Clara County and southeastern San Mateo County.


Los Trancos Creek drains an area of about seven square miles and consists of about 6.6 miles (10.6 km) of channel.[3] Its headwaters are protected by the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve just northwest of Page Mill Road. The next watershed to the west is Corte Madera Creek, another tributary of San Francisquito Creek. The confluence of Los Trancos Creek with San Francisquito Creek occurs just below Piers Lane Road (between Interstate 280 and the Stanford Golf Course) in a small residential island of land belonging to Menlo Park within Stanford's lands.


A new Fish ladder constructed by Stanford University in 2009 was intended to enable steelhead trout to pass their dam which diverts water to Felt Lake.

In 1929 Stanford installed a diversion dam on Los Trancos Creek to its Felt Lake water storage reservoir. The dam, located just below the intersection of Arastradero and Alpine Roads, blocked access of anadromous Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to over 3 miles (4.8 km) of pristine upstream spawning grounds.[4] In 2009, Stanford University completed construction of a new fish screen and ladder as the previous fish ladder was an "Alaska Steep Pass" designed for much higher flows.[5] The upper watershed is wholly protected within the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve just northwest of Page Mill Road and east of Skyline Boulevard. Spawning steelhead in Los Trancos Creek below the Felt Lake diversion dam vary from zero in drought years to several hundreds in wetter years and occurs from February to April. Steelhead spend two years in freshwater before heading to the Bay and field studies in the Stanford portion of Los Trancos Creek have found hundreds of young trout ranging from ~140 per mile to nearly 600 per mile.[6]


Excellent hiking from the Piers Lane parking area on Alpine Road crosses over San Franciscquito Creek and Los Trancos Creek just above their confluence and proceeds to the Stanford Dish. It is open from sunrise to sunset and no bicycles or dogs are allowed.[7]

The headwaters of Los Trancos Creek are easily accessed from Page Mill Road in the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and include the Lost Creek Trail, the San Andreas Fault Trail, the Page Mill Trail and Los Trancos Trail.[8]


  1. 1 2 3 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Los Trancos Creek
  2. 1 2 Erwin G. Gudde (2004). California Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-520-26619-3.
  3. Watershed Assessment Subgroup, Santa Clara Basin Watershed Management Initiative (2003-08). Volume One Unabridged Watershed Characteristics Report, Chapter 7 "Natural Setting" (PDF) (Report). Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program. pp. 7–90. Retrieved 2010-10-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. Eve Mitchell (1995-09-28). "Fish ladder to help Peninsula steelhead; Seagoing trout will get access to Las Trancos Creek above Stanford University". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  5. Arden Pennell (2008-04-02). "Stanford plans changes to creek, Felt Lake". Palo Alto Online News. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
  6. Stanford University Habitat Conservation Plan: Steelhead (Report). Stanford University. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  7. "Stanford Dish Walk". Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  8. "Los Trancos Open Space Preserve Map" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-08-01.

Also see: Los Trancos Woods

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