Portola Valley is located on the San Francisco Peninsula on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The town is west of Interstate 280 and the southwest boundary is along Skyline Boulevard which more or less is the ridge of the mountains. The Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is a large part of the town’s southwest side and the north side of the town borders Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Woodside borders it to the northwest and Palo Alto to the southeast The unincorporated subdivision of Ladera is adjacent to the northern boundary of the town. It is in a mostly wooded area, with some open fields. The San Andreas Fault bisects the town.
Alpine Road and Portola Road are the two relatively main roads in the town and their intersection forms a small shopping nexus.
Portola Valley can generally be divided into 7 subdivisions: Central Portola Valley, The Ranch, Corte Madera, Los Trancos/Vista Verde, Woodside Highlands, Westridge, and Blue Oaks.
Portola Valley is known for its expansive trail network both maintained by the townand also in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve maintained by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
The Portola Valley Elementary School District has two public primary schools: Ormondale School (with grades K-3) and Corte Madera School (grades 4-8). The public high school is Woodside High School part of the Sequoia Union High School District and in the neighboring community of Woodside.