Preserve Info

Hiking
Biking
Equestrian
Dogs on Leash
Restrooms

Overview

Just south of the Town of Los Gatos, on the east side of the Lexington Reservoir, sits Sierra Azul, the District's southernmost open space preserve. Translated Sierra Azul means "Blue Range." This Preserve encompassing more than 18,000 acres and is the District's largest Preserve. Sierra Azul Preserve is a true wilderness area, yet surprisingly close to the urban areas of the South Bay, making it a popular destination.

Because of its size, Sierra Azul is divided into four areas: Kennedy Limekiln, Mount Umunhum, Cathedral Oaks, and Rancho do Guadalupe.

Dog, Bike and Equestrian Access Limited: Activities may not be designated on all trails within the Preserve-- always refer to the map and trail signage for where the activity is permitted. 

Gallery

Features

  • Varied Environment. One can visit serpentine grasslands, hard, rocky, and steep chaparral, dense stands of bay trees, or quiet, shaded oak woodland forests. For the more hardy explorers, there are deep ravines and riparian corridors, some containing seasonal or year-round water flow.
  • Abundant Wildlife. The entire Preserve is prime mountain lion habitat and also provides homes for deer, bobcats, coyotes, and many other species of animals. 
  • This Preserve has the beauty and ruggedness of an unspoiled wilderness and attracts visitors seeking a more vigorous hiking, biking, and equestrian experience.

Directions

Kennedy-Limekiln Area

Parking is available at the Lexington Reservoir entrance to Sierra Azul, accessible from Highway 17.

  • From southbound Highway 17, take the Bear Creek Road exit, cross over the highway, and go 0.4 miles north on Highway 17 to Alma Bridge Road.
  • Proceed across the dam to the parking area (there is a parking fee) at Lexington Reservoir County Park.
  • From the parking area, visitors can continue on Alma Bridge Road a short distance to the Limekiln Trail trailhead (gate #SA22), on the left side of the road. The Priest Rock Trail trailhead is a short distance further on the road (gate #SA21), also on the left side.

Get driving directions to Lexington Reservoir Parking Area

 

The trailhead for the Kennedy Trail is accessible from Kennedy Road in Los Gatos, approximately 1.5 miles west of its intersection with Shannon Road, at gate #SA01. There is very limited parking at this trailhead.

Get driving directions to Kennedy Road roadside parking

 

Mt. Umunhum Area

Jacques Ridge Parking Lot

  • Located near the intersection of Hicks Road and Mt. Umunhum Road.
  • Exit Highway 85 at Camden Ave. (From southbound 85 turn left on Camden Ave.
  • From northbound 85 turn left on Branham Avenue and then turn left on Camden Ave.) Travel on Camden Ave. about 1.6 miles.
  • Turn right on Hicks Road.
  • Travel on Hicks Road about 6.3 miles.
  • Turn right on Mt. Umunhum Road.
  • The Preserve parking lot will be on the right. The Woods Trail trailhead is adjacent to the parking area.

Get driving directions to Jacques Ridge Parking Area

 

Bald Mountain Parking Area

Located on Mt. Umunhum Road, approximately 1.7 miles past the intersection of Hicks Road.

  • Public hiking and bicycling access continue up Mt. Umunhum Road for 1.3 miles past gate #SA08, to the point where the road enters private property. Although it is not gated, this point is well marked with private property signs on the sides of the road, as well as symbols on the road surface. Do not travel on Mt. Umunhum Road beyond this point. The land is private property and entry is trespassing.
  • Above gate #SA08 and before the start of private property there is a multi-use trail, Barlow Road that starts from Mt. Umunhum Road at gate #SA09 and descends to Woods Trail.
  • Equestrians: Please note that horses cannot pass through gates #SA07, #SA08, or #SA09.

Get driving directions to Bald Mountain Parking ARea

 

Trails

Kennedy-Limekiln Area

The most popular is the 2,920-acre Kennedy-Limekiln Area, accessible from Kennedy Road in Los Gatos, and from Highway 17, adjacent to Lexington Reservoir County Park and St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve.

  • 15 miles of trails, providing hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians with some excellent, strenuous loop trails.
  • Leashed dogs are allowed only on the trails in the Kennedy-Limekiln Area.
  • Bicyclists: there is a 15 mph trail speed limit and helmets are required at all times.

The popular Kennedy Trail/Limekiln Trail loop covers over 14 miles, and includes nearly 2,000 feet in elevation gain.

For a shorter, but still energetic hike or ride, try the five-mile Priest Rock Trail, with an 800-foot elevation gain.

 

Mount Umunhum Area

The Mt. Umunhum Area features the 3,486-foot mountain named after the Ohlone word for "resting place of the hummingbird."  This 11,646-acre area marks the southern end of the entire District, and includes the former Almaden Air Force Base, which was part of the early-warning radar network built during the Cold War.

Note: There is no public access to the top of Mt. Umunhum

The Woods Trail - Part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, winds around the north side of Mount Umunhum and then climbs to near the summit of Mt. El Sombroso, before meeting the Kennedy and Limekiln Trails.

There is also a half-mile trail leading to Bald Mountain, a grassy hillside offering expansive views of the Almaden Valley and the Mt. Hamilton range to the east. Dogs are not allowed in the Mt. Umunhum Area.

 

Cathedral Oaks and Rancho de Guadalupe Areas

There is no public access to these areas as the area is surrounded mostly by private property, making public access unavailable at this time.

Because of the limited access, there is no formal trail system. As the District continues to acquire property in this area, a trail system will be developed to accommodate safe, secure public use.

Trail Conditions

  • Hiking access to the Bald Mt. Trail is now open via the new parking lot.

Closures in Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve:

  • Please note that the Mount Umunhum and Mount Thayer areas are CLOSED areas. Anyone found in these areas will be cited.
  • Areas that are adjacent to Mount Umunhum and Mount Thayer have been declared Temporary Closed Areas. Trespassers will be cited.  Please refer to the posted map for details. Other closed areas within Sierra Azul Preserve are shown on the Preserve map.

History

The former Almaden Air Force Station at Mount Umunhum, located near Los Gatos, was acquired by the District and added to the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve in 1986. This high peak, with views as far as Monterey Bay, is special to the military personnel and their families who were stationed there. Mount Umunhum is also important to the Ohlone people as part of their creation belief. Current Santa Clara Valley residents know Mount Umunhum as the intriguing location of the huge, cement radar tower visible for miles. Federal funding allowed the District to clean up the site to allow restoration and future public access to this spectacular local landmark.

Find out more about the Mt. Umunhum Summit Project here.

Regulations

  • Hours: Open dawn to one-half hour after sunset.
  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed only on designated trails in this Preserve. Must be controlled on a maximum 6-foot leash at all times. Dogs are allowed only in designated preserves or areas as posted. Dog walkers are required to bag and remove all dog waste from the Preserve by packing it out. Moving dog waste off trail is not permittedFor information visit the Dog Access page.
  • Bicyclists: Bikes are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are required for all riders at all times. Please observe the 15-mph trail speed limit (5-mph when passing or approaching blind turns). For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
  • Equestrians: Horses are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For more information visit the Equestrian Access page.
  • Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people.
  • Fires: Fires are prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Weapons: Weapons of any kind are prohibited on preserves. 
     
  • Plants and Animals: Please leave plants and animals undisturbed. This not only preserves the natural environment, but is also a safety precaution. 
     
  • Water Areas: Swimming wading, or engaging in any water-contact activity in any water areas of the District is prohibited.

Download District Regulations and Ordinances

Overview

Just south of the Town of Los Gatos, on the east side of the Lexington Reservoir, sits Sierra Azul, the District's southernmost open space preserve. Translated Sierra Azul means "Blue Range." This Preserve encompassing more than 18,000 acres and is the District's largest Preserve. Sierra Azul Preserve is a true wilderness area, yet surprisingly close to the urban areas of the South Bay, making it a popular destination.

Because of its size, Sierra Azul is divided into four areas: Kennedy Limekiln, Mount Umunhum, Cathedral Oaks, and Rancho do Guadalupe.

Dog, Bike and Equestrian Access Limited: Activities may not be designated on all trails within the Preserve-- always refer to the map and trail signage for where the activity is permitted. 

Photo Gallery

Features

  • Varied Environment. One can visit serpentine grasslands, hard, rocky, and steep chaparral, dense stands of bay trees, or quiet, shaded oak woodland forests. For the more hardy explorers, there are deep ravines and riparian corridors, some containing seasonal or year-round water flow.
  • Abundant Wildlife. The entire Preserve is prime mountain lion habitat and also provides homes for deer, bobcats, coyotes, and many other species of animals. 
  • This Preserve has the beauty and ruggedness of an unspoiled wilderness and attracts visitors seeking a more vigorous hiking, biking, and equestrian experience.

Kennedy-Limekiln Area

Parking is available at the Lexington Reservoir entrance to Sierra Azul, accessible from Highway 17.

  • From southbound Highway 17, take the Bear Creek Road exit, cross over the highway, and go 0.4 miles north on Highway 17 to Alma Bridge Road.
  • Proceed across the dam to the parking area (there is a parking fee) at Lexington Reservoir County Park.
  • From the parking area, visitors can continue on Alma Bridge Road a short distance to the Limekiln Trail trailhead (gate #SA22), on the left side of the road. The Priest Rock Trail trailhead is a short distance further on the road (gate #SA21), also on the left side.

Get driving directions to Lexington Reservoir Parking Area

 

The trailhead for the Kennedy Trail is accessible from Kennedy Road in Los Gatos, approximately 1.5 miles west of its intersection with Shannon Road, at gate #SA01. There is very limited parking at this trailhead.

Get driving directions to Kennedy Road roadside parking

 

Mt. Umunhum Area

Jacques Ridge Parking Lot

  • Located near the intersection of Hicks Road and Mt. Umunhum Road.
  • Exit Highway 85 at Camden Ave. (From southbound 85 turn left on Camden Ave.
  • From northbound 85 turn left on Branham Avenue and then turn left on Camden Ave.) Travel on Camden Ave. about 1.6 miles.
  • Turn right on Hicks Road.
  • Travel on Hicks Road about 6.3 miles.
  • Turn right on Mt. Umunhum Road.
  • The Preserve parking lot will be on the right. The Woods Trail trailhead is adjacent to the parking area.

Get driving directions to Jacques Ridge Parking Area

 

Bald Mountain Parking Area

Located on Mt. Umunhum Road, approximately 1.7 miles past the intersection of Hicks Road.

  • Public hiking and bicycling access continue up Mt. Umunhum Road for 1.3 miles past gate #SA08, to the point where the road enters private property. Although it is not gated, this point is well marked with private property signs on the sides of the road, as well as symbols on the road surface. Do not travel on Mt. Umunhum Road beyond this point. The land is private property and entry is trespassing.
  • Above gate #SA08 and before the start of private property there is a multi-use trail, Barlow Road that starts from Mt. Umunhum Road at gate #SA09 and descends to Woods Trail.
  • Equestrians: Please note that horses cannot pass through gates #SA07, #SA08, or #SA09.

Get driving directions to Bald Mountain Parking ARea

 

Trails

Kennedy-Limekiln Area

The most popular is the 2,920-acre Kennedy-Limekiln Area, accessible from Kennedy Road in Los Gatos, and from Highway 17, adjacent to Lexington Reservoir County Park and St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve.

  • 15 miles of trails, providing hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians with some excellent, strenuous loop trails.
  • Leashed dogs are allowed only on the trails in the Kennedy-Limekiln Area.
  • Bicyclists: there is a 15 mph trail speed limit and helmets are required at all times.

The popular Kennedy Trail/Limekiln Trail loop covers over 14 miles, and includes nearly 2,000 feet in elevation gain.

For a shorter, but still energetic hike or ride, try the five-mile Priest Rock Trail, with an 800-foot elevation gain.

 

Mount Umunhum Area

The Mt. Umunhum Area features the 3,486-foot mountain named after the Ohlone word for "resting place of the hummingbird."  This 11,646-acre area marks the southern end of the entire District, and includes the former Almaden Air Force Base, which was part of the early-warning radar network built during the Cold War.

Note: There is no public access to the top of Mt. Umunhum

The Woods Trail - Part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, winds around the north side of Mount Umunhum and then climbs to near the summit of Mt. El Sombroso, before meeting the Kennedy and Limekiln Trails.

There is also a half-mile trail leading to Bald Mountain, a grassy hillside offering expansive views of the Almaden Valley and the Mt. Hamilton range to the east. Dogs are not allowed in the Mt. Umunhum Area.

 

Cathedral Oaks and Rancho de Guadalupe Areas

There is no public access to these areas as the area is surrounded mostly by private property, making public access unavailable at this time.

Because of the limited access, there is no formal trail system. As the District continues to acquire property in this area, a trail system will be developed to accommodate safe, secure public use.

Trail Conditions

  • Hiking access to the Bald Mt. Trail is now open via the new parking lot.

Closures in Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve:

  • Please note that the Mount Umunhum and Mount Thayer areas are CLOSED areas. Anyone found in these areas will be cited.
  • Areas that are adjacent to Mount Umunhum and Mount Thayer have been declared Temporary Closed Areas. Trespassers will be cited.  Please refer to the posted map for details. Other closed areas within Sierra Azul Preserve are shown on the Preserve map.

The former Almaden Air Force Station at Mount Umunhum, located near Los Gatos, was acquired by the District and added to the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve in 1986. This high peak, with views as far as Monterey Bay, is special to the military personnel and their families who were stationed there. Mount Umunhum is also important to the Ohlone people as part of their creation belief. Current Santa Clara Valley residents know Mount Umunhum as the intriguing location of the huge, cement radar tower visible for miles. Federal funding allowed the District to clean up the site to allow restoration and future public access to this spectacular local landmark.

Find out more about the Mt. Umunhum Summit Project here.

  • Hours: Open dawn to one-half hour after sunset.
  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed only on designated trails in this Preserve. Must be controlled on a maximum 6-foot leash at all times. Dogs are allowed only in designated preserves or areas as posted. Dog walkers are required to bag and remove all dog waste from the Preserve by packing it out. Moving dog waste off trail is not permittedFor information visit the Dog Access page.
  • Bicyclists: Bikes are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are required for all riders at all times. Please observe the 15-mph trail speed limit (5-mph when passing or approaching blind turns). For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
  • Equestrians: Horses are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For more information visit the Equestrian Access page.
  • Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people.
  • Fires: Fires are prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited on preserves.
     
  • Weapons: Weapons of any kind are prohibited on preserves. 
     
  • Plants and Animals: Please leave plants and animals undisturbed. This not only preserves the natural environment, but is also a safety precaution. 
     
  • Water Areas: Swimming wading, or engaging in any water-contact activity in any water areas of the District is prohibited.

Download District Regulations and Ordinances

Download Preserve Map

Preserve Info

Hiking
Biking
Equestrian
Dogs on Leash
Restrooms

Hours

Open dawn to one-half hour after sunset.

Preserve Activities

August 15, 2015