A hike of the future
Rancho de Guadalupe (Sierra Azul)
Neil Wiley

As part of the master plan process for our two local open space preserves, Midpeninsula Open Space offered tours of areas previously off-limits during May and June. Although they attracted surprisingly few people, the tours gave us an opportunity to discover new local trails. What could be better than walking a trail for the first time, a trail that others havenít experienced. Itís not exactly like being Gaspar de Portola, but you could call us explorers. After all, the trails were new to us.

Rancho de Guadalupe is an isolated section of the 17,000-acre Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. It is a large valley cut off from the rest of the preserve by high ridges. If you donít mind a scenic drive along Hicks Road, access is relatively easy. Gate SA04, located between Pheasant and Reynolds roads, opens to a short unpaved driveway in a large meadow. It looks like it would be easy to create a sizable parking lot with plenty of room for staging horse trailers.
 
Although you can hear the noise from the Guadalupe landfill across Hicks Road, most of the landfill activity is hidden on the other side of a ridge. Fortunately, too, your hike takes you south, up and away from the noise.

You follow an old road uphill to the large Cherry Springs Pond, located in the middle of a hundred-acre plus grass field, the site of a proposed housing development that didnít make it past the planning stage. You can walk around the pond, or continue uphill into a nice, shady hardwood forest. The shade is much appreciated because as you climb, the road becomes steeper and steeper. Near the top of the ridge, the road intersects with a wide trail to the left. Within a hundred yards or so, you reach an easily climbable rocky point at over 1500-foot elevationóa perfect spot for lunch while enjoying a 360-degree view.

You can backtrack or loop around via another road down to Cherry Springs Pond. Even with a walk around the pond, the total distance is less than four miles. It might also be possible (someday) to continue on the road south down to Hicks Creek, then hike along the creek to Woods Trail. If you could reach Woods Trail, you could go east to visit 2999-foot high El Sombroso mountain, or go west to hook up with Kennedy Trail.

This looks like a promising new trail area, especially for hikers and equestrians. The trail around the pond is good for hikers and horses that like open areas and relatively flat going. The ascent to the rocky point is a bit more challenging but the view is worth the climb. Although connections to other parts of the preserve are not yet available, they may be possible in the future.

If you would like more information, visit www.openspace.org. And if you would like to see these trails open to the public, write Ana Ruiz, project planner, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, 330 Distel Circle, Los Altos, California 94022, email masterplan@openspace.org, or call 650-691-1200.

 

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