Located just a short hop from downtown Los Gatos, California, St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve is one of the smaller OSP’s of the Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District. http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_st_josephs.asp The trail head is located adjacent to Lexington Reservoir’s parking area just south of the dam above the town of Los Gatos. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Los Gatos Creek Trail – which travels through Los Gatos and San Jose, can be taken up past the dam and to St. Joseph’s Hill OSP. Because St. Joseph’s Hill is located so close to Los Gatos and San Jose, this trail is heavily used by hikers, runner’s and mountain bikers. Although on the day I hiked, I didn’t really have any problems with trail traffic. Of course, our local critters are also “users” of the Santa Cruz Mountains!.
The Jones Trail, which is fairly steep for the first half mile, follows a historic stagecoach road. Prior to this being a stagecoach road, the Spanish Mission founders used this same trail which, it has been discovered, is based on a route that the Ohlone Native people used to cross from the Sierra Azul mountains into the Santa Clara Valley.
The Jesuit’s Catholic Order founded a winery on St. Joseph’s Hill in 1888. The road to the winery is now known as the Novitiate Trail. It is this Novitiate Trail which breaks up the hill off of the Jones Trail. Traveling through a large grove of Eucalyptus trees, this trail is 8-10 feet wide and is mostly in the shade. Several other trails wind over the sides of St. Joseph’s hill.
I took the Brother’s Bypass, which is out in the open across some hills that were vineyards long ago, and winds up to the summit of St, Joseph’s hill. There is quite a view from the top of this 1,250′ foot hill of downtown Los Gatos and south San Jose.
Although the native grasses have really started to turn from their bright greens to the golden browns, I was surprised to see many wildflowers still blooming along several spots along the trail. I wonder how long I will be seeing these bright flowers throughout the summer months?
After I rested a bit at the summit and watched a few Air National Guard planes approach Moffett Field, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moffett_Federal_Airfield , I wandered back down the hill along the Manzanita Trail, and ran into some of the very friendly MROSD Park Rangers (Becky and John) who were setting up a speed trap for mountain bikes! Apparently, this OSP has a problem with Mountain Bikers being a little too enthusiastic on their way down the hill!
Becky and John were great ambassadors of the MROSD – answering my questions about the other preserves and even taking my “Hike No 14” picture!
That’s 14 hikes and 84.4 miles! 26 hikes and 115.6 miles to go. I want to thank Becky and John, and all of the MROSD Park Rangers and District Staff for taking great care of our Open Space Preserves so that everyone in the South Bay can enjoy them. Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.