Just west of Stanford University is an open space preserve in the foothills called The Dish Area, more commonly referred to as “The Dish” by locals. The preserve’s name is derived from the 150 foot diameter radio telescope built there in 1966 by Stanford Research Institute (SRI) for the U.S. Air Force. Originally built to study the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the radio telescope is still in use for various government operations such as satellite calibrations, spacecraft command and radio astronomy measurements.
Also home to local wildlife and various Stanford University research and conversation facilities, this unusual spot is visited by over 500,000 people each year that come to walk or run the picturesque “Dish Loop” – a 3.3 mile trail that winds through the preserve.
For me, The Dish area is special because it symbolizes where the science and technology of Silicon Valley meet the natural world. As you walk up and down the hills of the loop, taking in the sweeping views of the Bay Area (on clear days San Francisco is visible), the giant satellite dishes and antenna arrays might serve as the backdrop for a roaming mountain lion, a red tail hawk hunting ground squirrels, or fog clouds rolling in from the coast.