The best part: the Open Space Preserves are rarely crowded, unlike more popular destinations such as Big Basin State Park, and we saw only a handful of people during our 8-mile hike.
We started at a “secret” trailhead in a pullout about 1.5 miles SE of the main Windy Hill parking lot. Here the Razorback Ridge Trail begins and descends to a junction with the Lost Trail which we took headed Northwest towards Hamms Gulch Trail. The trail provides views of the San Francisco Bay and Diablo Range to the West, as well as the populous Silicon Valley, if you like looking for that sort of thing. Watch out! There’s tons of poison oak every which way and it’s out to get you.
By the time we reached Eagle Trail via Hamms Gulch Trail we were getting pretty tired of the 4.5 miles of almost constant down-hill. At this point we had descended 1,300 feet. We were in luck as the “fun” part was about to sart. Eagle Trail, built as part of Sidney Trap’s Eagle Scout Project (the name makes sense now) in 1973, gains only about 100 feet over 0.6 miles. The “really fun” part began as we started back up the Razorback Ridge Trail; I would have called it Saw-blade Trail. About 1200 feet over 2.7 miles of switchback after switchback. Not particularly strenuous, but enough to get our blood pumping and our sweat glands doing their job.
While not the Sierra Nevada, the Appalachians, Cascades, Rockies, or other well known mountain ranges, the Santa Cruz mountains definitely have their charm. Maybe it’s because they provide a great hiking destination without a long drive. Maybe it’s because I can see the range from the windows of the office building I work in; a constant reminder of where I’d rather be. There’s something special about a mountain range you can call your own.