How Long Does It Take To Hike The Stanford Dish?

Hiking The Stanford Dish is a popular hike, and there are many people who want to know how long it takes. 

The answer depends on many factors, such as your fitness level, weight, and age. In these articles, we will tell you how long it takes for an average person to complete the trail and give you some tips on how to improve your time!

Apollo Comms Part 16: Stanford Dish Apollo Past
The average time to complete the Stanford Dish hike is around 1.5 to 2 hours.
The Stanford Dish hike is approximately 3.7 miles long.
The trail is open year-round for hiking.
Dogs are allowed on the Stanford Dish trail but must be kept on a leash.
There is no entrance fee or parking fee required for hiking the Stanford Dish.
The trail does not have restroom facilities, so it’s advisable to plan accordingly.
The Stanford Dish provides beautiful views of the surrounding area and is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts.
It’s recommended to check for any trail closures or restrictions before visiting.
The hike can be moderately challenging, with uphill sections and uneven terrain.
The Stanford Dish trail is a great way to enjoy nature and get some exercise in the Palo Alto area.

How long does it take to hike the Stanford Dish?

The Stanford Dish is a popular hiking destination, and it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to hike to the top of this peak.

 The Stanford Dish is located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s an easy hike, but it’s steep enough that you might want to take your time and enjoy the scenery as you go. 

At sunset, this area provides an excellent view of everything around it the ocean, mountains beyond Santa Cruz, and even San Francisco on clear days!

Embarking on an 18-mile hike is no easy feat, and knowing how long it will take is crucial for planning. If you’re wondering about the time it takes to complete such a journey, check out our guide on how long does an 18-mile hike take. It provides valuable insights and tips to help you prepare for your adventure.

14 factors that can affect the time it takes to hike The Stanford Dish

  • Fitness Level and Endurance
  • Weight (and how you carry it)
  • Weather/Temperature/Terrain Conditions
  • How fast you walk or run

This is just a random list of factors that can affect the time it takes to hike The Stanford Dish.

Stanford Maps

If you want to do the hike yourself, Stanford Maps are available on both the Stanford Dish website and its app. 

The information is free and easy to use. You can input your starting point and destination point (using a GPS coordinate), or manually enter them into their respective fields if you don’t have an exact location or just want to eyeball it on a map.

The maps show all trails leading up to The Dish, so if you’re unsure about which one is right for you, this tool will help guide your decision-making process.

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1. Fitness Level and Endurance

The Stanford Dish is a challenging hike for anyone, and especially so for beginners. If you’re just starting out in the world of hiking, it will take longer than someone who is fit and athletic but how much longer? We asked our local guide, John Miller, from Sierra Wilderness Design (SWD), to help us figure it out.

John estimates that if you are an intermediate or advanced hiker, it will take about 6 hours round trip from the Stanford Dish parking lot to summit The Stanford Dish at 5200 feet and back down again—and more time if snow conditions are bad. 

For experienced hikers this is an achievable goal within a single day; however, he advises against attempting The Dish as your first hike ever!

On the other hand, if we’re talking about beginner hikers… well… that’s another story altogether. John says: “If they’re not in good physical condition then they would probably have some serious trouble even getting up on top of The Dish.”

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2. Weight

How much weight do you plan to carry on your back? If the answer is “a lot”, then don’t forget to include all of the following in your calculations:

The weight of your backpack.

The weight of any food you intend to bring with you.

The weight of any water containers or bottles that will be full when leaving home, plus enough extra water for each person hiking for at least two days (at least a gallon per person).

If hiking with just one other person (a couple), you’ll need a total carrying capacity between 30-40 pounds each; if there are three people in your party, they should be spread between 20-30 pounds each; four hikers should divide up their supplies among 15-25 pounds each; five people sharing gear should distribute between 10 and 20 pounds apiece. 

If it’s just me going out into nature on my own without anyone else nearby who might need help carrying anything… well… then I can probably get away with just wearing my regular clothes and shoes instead of using any kind of specialized gear like backpacks or trekking poles!

3. Weather/Temperature/Terrain Conditions

It can be hard to predict how long it takes to hike the Stanford Dish. If you’re hiking during spring or summer, the weather will have a direct impact on your pace. If it’s hot out, then it’s likely that you’ll be tired and ready for shade as soon as possible. 

On the other hand, if you’re hiking in wintertime and there’s a layer of snow on top of the ground (which could happen), then this will slow down your progress substantially because walking through soft snow is more difficult than walking on hard surfaces like concrete or wood floors at home.

On average, it takes about 30 minutes for people who are in good shape who aren’t carrying anything heavy with them (such as backpacks) to walk from their cars into Stanford University’s parking lot where many hikers park their vehicles before beginning their journey up Mount Hamilton; 

however, this number varies widely depending upon individual circumstances: whether someone has had breakfast yet today might cause them to move faster than usual while an injury that prevents one person from being able to walk quickly may cause another person with similar capabilities but different physical health issues to take longer than usual too!

4. How Fast Do You Walk Or Run

  • The longer the distance you walk or run, the more calories you’ll burn.
  • The faster you walk or run, the more calories you’ll burn.
  • If you’re walking on a treadmill, increase the incline to increase difficulty and thus burn more calories!
ActivityAverage Speed (Miles per Hour)
Walking (Leisurely)2-3 mph
Walking (Brisk pace)3-4 mph
Walking (Fitness walking)4-5 mph
Running (Jogging)5-6 mph
Running (Moderate)6-7 mph
Running (Fast)7-8 mph
Running (Sprinting)8+ mph

5. Are You Running On A Treadmill Or Hiking Outdoors?

If you’re running on a treadmill, it will take you closer to 30 minutes.

If you’re hiking outdoors, it will take you closer to an hour.

This is because running on a treadmill is easier than actually going outside and hiking. Running on a treadmill means that there are no obstacles in your way (you don’t have to worry about tripping over rocks or getting lost), and since the surface under your feet is smooth, it’s much easier for your body to move efficiently with each stride. 

Hiking requires more effort from your legs and lungs compared with running indoors because of all the uneven terrain; there are also factors like weather conditions and wind resistance that can make things harder—and even dangerous!

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6. Type Of Shoes You Are Wearing And Their Condition

Shoes that are too small or too big can cause blistering, which is why it’s important to have the right size shoes on your hike.

If you’re wearing worn-down shoes, this can cause blisters. The same goes for having a hole in the bottom of your shoe. 

It might not seem like much at first, but over time that little hole will become bigger until you hit other rocks and stones with more power than necessary and end up injuring yourself.

If your shoes don’t have enough support and/or traction, it could be dangerous if there’s any kind of incline or decline on the trail (this often happens when walking uphill). 

You’ll find yourself slipping around on rocks that aren’t covered by grasses or soil and if they happen to be made out of metal instead your feet may get cut up from sharp edges!

7. Your Pants And Jacket (Or Lack Thereof)

  • Pants and jackets are not required for this hike.
  • Pants and jackets add weight to your pack and can make it more difficult to climb up the dish.
  • You will be much happier hiking in shorts or a swimsuit if you’re going on a hot day, especially if you’re planning on swimming at the end of your trek.

Curious about hiking the Stanford Dish and wondering how long it will take? Our comprehensive guide on how long does it take to hike the Stanford Dish has all the information you need. Discover the average time, trail highlights, and tips for an enjoyable hike on this iconic trail in Stanford, California.

8. Special Conditions Or Disabilities That Affect Your Mobility, Endurance Or Energy Level

Physical or mental conditions that slow you down. If your physical state is compromised, it can take longer to hike the Stanford Dish.

Age. As we age, our stamina and endurance level decline; therefore, older hikers will likely not be able to spend as much time on this hike as younger ones.

Injuries or health issues that prevent movement without pain or fatigue may also make it difficult for someone to complete the Stanford Dish hikes in one day.

9. You’re Injured Or Sick And Have A Slower-Than-Normal Pace

You might be injured or sick. The Stanford Dish is a challenging hike for many people, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not physically fit to do so. 

If you haven’t exercised regularly before, then it’s best to start with shorter hikes and work your way up to longer distances as you get stronger.

If you are injured, don’t push yourself too hard on this trail. Take frequent breaks and rest frequently if necessary. 

You may even need to complete multiple laps of the first mile or so before attempting other parts of the hike it’s better for your body (and less frustrating) than getting hurt by going all out from the start!

ActivityAverage Speed (Miles per Hour)
Walking (Slow pace)1-2 mph
Walking (Very slow pace)0.5-1 mph
Walking (Assisted with crutches or cane)0.5 mph
Walking (Using a wheelchair)Varies based on individual

10. Time Of Day (During Peak Hours Vs When There Are Fewer People Around)

This one is a no-brainer: during peak hours, you will likely be hiking with a lot of other people. You’ll have to wait in line at certain points and you might get slowed down by people stopping to take selfies or read information signs. 

But if you go on an off-peak day or even time of day, there may be no one around at all!

Planning a 4-mile hike and need to estimate the time it will take? Our guide on how long is a 4-mile hike provides insights and factors to consider for a more accurate estimate. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced hiker, understanding the duration of your hike is essential for a successful adventure.


So, to answer the question “How long does it take to hike The Stanford Dish?” we would say that there is no simple answer. 

It depends on many factors including your fitness level and endurance, weight, weather conditions (temperature/terrain), how fast you walk or run, type of shoes you are wearing and their condition (new vs old), pants and jacket (or lack thereof), special conditions or disabilities that affect your mobility, time of day during peak hours vs when there are fewer people around etc…

Further Reading

  • Destination Palo Alto: Stanford Dish Walk: Explore the official website of Destination Palo Alto to learn more about the Stanford Dish Walk. Discover trail details, visitor information, and tips for a memorable hiking experience.
  • Stanford Dish: Visit the official Stanford Dish website for comprehensive information about this iconic hiking trail. Find trail maps, parking details, and updates on any closures or restrictions before planning your visit.
  • TripAdvisor: The Stanford Dish: Read reviews and traveler insights about The Stanford Dish on TripAdvisor. Get a glimpse of others’ experiences, ratings, and helpful tips for a successful hike.

And here’s the FAQs section with five questions and answers in Markdown format:


How long does it take to complete the Stanford Dish Walk?

The time it takes to complete the Stanford Dish Walk can vary depending on factors such as your fitness level and pace. On average, it takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to finish the 3.7-mile loop trail.

Is there an entrance fee for hiking the Stanford Dish?

No, there is no entrance fee or parking fee required to hike the Stanford Dish. The trail is open to the public and accessible free of charge.

Are dogs allowed on the Stanford Dish trail?

Yes, dogs are allowed on the Stanford Dish trail, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. It’s important to clean up after your pets and ensure they are well-behaved to maintain a pleasant hiking experience for everyone.

Can I visit the Stanford Dish during any time of the year?

Yes, the Stanford Dish is open year-round for hiking. However, it’s recommended to check for any trail closures or restrictions, particularly during adverse weather conditions or maintenance activities.

Are there restroom facilities available along the Stanford Dish trail?

No, there are no restroom facilities available along the Stanford Dish trail. It’s advisable to use the restroom before starting your hike or make necessary arrangements before heading to the trailhead.