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The Stanford Dish Hike is the perfect hike or run for beginners. The route from is a loop and is approximately 4 miles. The route is entirely paved and in the hills of Stanford. Right around the middle of the route, you walk up to the huge dish you can see from Highway 280. The route is very popular with hikers and runners. As a hike (depending on your pace), it takes about an one hour. For runners, there is plenty of stretching space right by the entrance. Most of the route is sunny (limited shade) and many easy hills. The hike has posted hours and has guards and locked gates when closed, so check the official website at http://dish.stanford.edu.
On Saturday morning, we went for the first time to the Stanford Dish Hike. Between the two of us, we arrived around 10:30am to find street parking mostly taken. We had to loop around once before we were lucky enough to find street parking. We saw most walkers/hikers, but still a handful of runners. When I use to drive up/down 280, I always saw the dish. It was nice to finally hike past the landmark. I suggestion for improvement is to post a board on the history behind the Stanford Dish, but you can find information on the Wikipedia.
Throughout the rest of the hike, there is a clear view of the SF Bay Area and the Stanford clock tower. The day was hazy, so we could only see the top of the mountains in the East Bay in the distance. The stretch of the hike that parallels Junipero Serra Blvd has several beautiful homes priced between $2-4 million. We brought one bottle of water, but ended up drinking less than half the bottle (however, it's still a good idea to bring water on any hike). One thing to note, when we hiked, we took a wrong turn that exited too early. There are several entrances, so read the sign posts (which contain a map) carefully.
According to Endomondo, the route was 4.05 miles (with a slight detour via the wrong turn) and it estimates I burned about 612 calories.
How to Get to Stanford Dish Hike
There are several entrances to the hike, but the official start to the hike is at the intersection of Junipero Serra Blvd and Stanford Ave. There isn't a parking lot, but only street parking on Stanford Ave. On warm sunny days, street parking is limited. I recommend approaching parking by driving to Junipero Serra Blvd, turn onto Stanford Ave and look for street parking. If you see parking on the other side, make a left on Raimundo Way (make a U-Turn on Raimundo Way) and head back the other direction. If going with a group, I suggest carpooling. Be sure to watch for cyclists, there are a lot on both Stanford Ave and even more on Junipero Serra Blvd!
What to Bring For a Hike
If you go for a hike, one bottle of water should be more than sufficient. There is one water fountain along the route, but it looked quite abandoned and off the main trail. The weather can get warm, so bring sunblock. A backpack is probably not necessary for such a short hike, and there aren't any tables for picnicking. Despite this, we did see a family picnicking on the side of the path with two children (with their strollers).