Hiking El Sereno


Sunday, 2 November 2014

I need to hike all the trails in one more open space preserve to qualify for the anvil award, which recognizes having patrolled all trails in the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District. The one I haven’t visited at all is El Sereno, on the ridge between Saratoga-Los Gatos, and highway 17 and Lexington reservoir. There are 7.4 miles of trail, and they are all out and back, so I was expecting a 15-mile day, more or less (it turned out to be 15.5 miles).

There is a little disconnected corner of the preserve on Overlook road, with access through a locked gate. I got the combination, parked there about 7:30, hiked a cool, pleasant trail through the woods. I had expected to be able to walk along roads to the other section of the park, but it turns out to be all private property, fenced, gated, no trespassing. Moomph! So I went back, got the car, drove all the way around to the other side.

The other side being at the top of Montevina road, which is also at the top of Montevina ridge. This is the kind of access road I really hate: single lane, blind, and steep. And this one is 3 miles long, to boot. Not a happy camper, but I did it. Interesting that the fire-road trails at the top are marked as evacuation routes: that would be in case there was a massive earthquake or maybe fire that blocked Montevina road.


Yesterday, I was over on the opposite side of the far ridge looking this way. The radar cube is at the high point over there.


Today’s trail goes down and down forever. Only about 1300 feet, as it turns out, so it’s not really as bad as it looks. The main trail is called Aquinas; it has a reasonably constant grade that averages about 7% (mental computation to keep my brain from rotting as I hike along). And there are side trails that descend noticeably and present additional sources of climb.


The view from near the bottom, showing switchbacks forever. Yes, we really did come from the high point there, and we’re going back.

Lots of mountain bikies, very few hikers. I can see why: it’s very difficult to reach; the bikies know about it, either by word of mouth or because the Sheldon road access gate is documented on some or all of the cycling maps. It is certainly not documented by the Open Space district: and yet they complain that it doesn’t get much use.



A reasonably clear day, with views from various points pretty much in any direction you could imagine. Here is downtown San Jose.


2 Responses to “Hiking El Sereno”

  1. Mary Says:

    Dave, once you have completed all the open space trails, will you publish your list of top ten favorites?


    • 86dave Says:

      Hi, Mary. Well, there are only 26, so it would be pretty easy to get into the top 10. And of course everyone would have different criteria. Maybe I should think about a comparative review of all of them?

      Thanks for the idea.



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