Hike No. 17 – Monte Bello OSP

Summit Black Mountain Hike No 17Located in the Mountains above Palo Alto, California, the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve was my destination for hike No. 17!  This was an interesting hike.  Like nearly all of the trails of the Mid Peninsula Open Space District, this one has a gravel parking lot, information board, a port a potty (!), and a well marked trail head.

Trail Head Monte Bello OSP Hike No 17The Stevens Creek Nature Trail winds down tree less hills into the heavily forested Stevens Creek canyon.

Hike down into the Creek area Monte Bello OSP Hike No 17Through the shade along the creek Hike No 17

Many pine trees on the Stevens Creek Nature Trail

Western Fence Lizard - Hike No 17I was able to catch a western fence lizard enjoying the California Sun and a pair of black tailed deer along the Stevens Creek Nature Trail.

Black Tailed Deer watch me hike past - Hike No 17After about 1 1/2 miles, the Stevens Creek Nature Trail climbs out of the canyon and connects to the Skid Row Trail, which climbs up several hundred feet along the golden slopes to the Indian Creek Trail.  The Indian Creek Trail would be my route to the summit of Black Mountain.

Skid Row Trail Hike No 17One mile and about 500 feet up the tree-less trail, there are a handful of trees surrounding an old corral – making this a perfect spot to look back at the Santa Cruz Mountains and slug down some water!A bit of shade on the exposed trail to Black Mtn Summit Hike No 17The trail only rises another 200 feet over the next 1/2 mile before you reach the summit of Black Mountain at 2,812′

Summit of Black Mountain 2,812' looking west towards the Coast RangeOnly about 1/2 mile from the summit, the Monte Bello OSP is one of the few OSP’s that has a backpacking campground.  There was a couple of retired gentlemen who were enjoying a weekend backpacking trip under these native oaks.


Monte Bello Back packers camp below the summit Hike No 17

Once past the Oak sheltered campground, I took the Old Ranch Trail and then the Bella Vista Trail to head back to the trail head.

Hike along the exposed hilltops winding down from the summit Hike No 17Continuing down the hill - No Shade - Hike No 17The first 1 1/3 of these trails are on open hillside and drop approximately 500 feet.  Nice views of the western Santa Cruz Mountains!  At the bottom of the Bella Vista Trail, I took the Canyon Trail again.  Just in time on this warm day, this trail is mostly shaded by native oaks.

Break Left to go back to the trail head parking Hike No 17

You will also pass a “Sag Pond” near the end of the trail.  Pretty strange site to see a pond being gradually consumed by vegetation…and soon to become a marshy area.

Sag Pond formed by Earthquake fault.

I enjoyed the different mini-ecosystems along my day hike at the diverse Monte Bello OSP.  Well, that’s 17 hikes and 96.8 miles!  23 hikes and 103.2 miles to go.  Hmm, I’m getting close to 100 miles hiked in 2013.  I wonder if I can break the century mark on my next hike…stay tuned!  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.

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