hikers in redwoods

Preserve Info

Hiking
Equestrian
Wheelchair accessible
Restrooms

Overview

Located three miles south of Los Gatos, this 1,432-acre Preserve features an easy access interpretive trail around Upper Lake and six miles of hiking and equestrian trails. The trails pass through shaded redwood and fir forests, along cool perennial creeks and offer spectacular views of the Sierra Azul range. An initial phase of public access improvements to the western area of the Preserve will be open daily, beginning June 8, 2019.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the rugged and rural location of this Preserve, there is no off-site parking nearby or along the two-lane, winding Bear Creek Road. On-site parking may fill up quickly on weekends. Please consider carpooling or visiting the Preserve on a weekday.

In 2014, voters passed Measure AA enabling Midpen to begin intensive work preparing the Preserve for public use. Midpen approved a long-term master plan for Bear Creek Redwoods in January of 2017. The Alma College site and an additional 15 miles of trail, including the new multi-use regional trail connection, will be phased in over the next fifteen years. For more information visit the Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan page.

Phase I will open for public access daily, beginning June 8, 2019.

Gallery

Features

  • Preserved redwood forests in close proximity to urban Santa Clara Valley. A few old-growth trees that were spared the logger’s axes remain along the Alma Trail. 
  • A rich cultural history, including use by Native Americans, loggers, wealthy Gold Rush-era families and the West Coast’s first Jesuit school of theology. (Some areas are undergoing renovation and are scheduled to open to the public in a future phase).
  • The San Andreas Fault runs through the Preserve, shaping its unique geology.
  • Diverse wildlife, including several species of bats, belted kingfishers, Western pond turtles, mountain lions and black-tailed deer. Bald eagles are occasionally seen soaring overhead.
  • Restored creeks provide critical habitat for special-status species, including Santa Cruz black and California giant salamanders.

Directions

Bear Creek Redwoods is currently closed to all public access. An initial phase of public access improvements to the western area of the Preserve will be open daily, beginning June 8, 2019.

Trails

Upper Lake Loop Trail

Beginning at the parking lot, the Upper Lake Loop Trail features historic views, habitat restoration sites and artifacts such as Native American bedrock mortars. Information for a self-guided interpretive tour is included in the brochure map that will be available at the Preserve entrance. The Loop Trail is an accessible pathway and can easily accommodate mobility devices, strollers, and users of all ages and abilities.

Alma, Redwoods Springs and Madrone Trails

Six miles of trails west of Bear Creek Road pass through shaded redwood and fir forests, along cool perennial creeks and offer spectacular views of the Sierra Azul Range. Be prepared: These trails climb from the parking area located at 1,000 feet in elevation to Madrone Knoll, the highest point, at 2,400 feet.

Guided hikes at Bear Creek Redwoods will begin this summer. They will be listed on the Docent-led Activities page starting in early June.

Trail Conditions

No trail conditions to report.

History

The majority of the current Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve was used for timber harvest from the mid-to-late 1800s. Once the timber industry was replaced by a private estate, a number of orchards and vineyards were established throughout the property. However, timber harvest continued on some properties well into the mid 1900s. In 1934, the majority of what is now Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve was sold to the Jesuits, who established the theological Alma College on the grounds of the Tevis Estate.

The College closed in 1969, and the property was slated to be developed into a golf course and country club, until POST and Midpen purchased the property in 1999 to save it from development.

Regulations

  • Hours: Open half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
  • Bicyclists: Bikes are NOT allowed in this Preserve. For information on preserves open to bikes 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.
  • Permits: A use permit is required for any activity or event which: may be attended by twenty (20) or more people; OR is advertised or noticed in any publication, poster, electronic posting or flyer; OR requests/requires a fee be paid for participation. Visit the Permit page for more information.
     
  • 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

  • This Preserve is currenly closed to the public.
  • Groups: Permits for for outside group activities or events at Bear Creek Redwoods will not be issued during the first several months of public access while we evaluate usage patterns at the preserve. Please check back in August for updates.

Overview

Located three miles south of Los Gatos, this 1,432-acre Preserve features an easy access interpretive trail around Upper Lake and six miles of hiking and equestrian trails. The trails pass through shaded redwood and fir forests, along cool perennial creeks and offer spectacular views of the Sierra Azul range. An initial phase of public access improvements to the western area of the Preserve will be open daily, beginning June 8, 2019.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the rugged and rural location of this Preserve, there is no off-site parking nearby or along the two-lane, winding Bear Creek Road. On-site parking may fill up quickly on weekends. Please consider carpooling or visiting the Preserve on a weekday.

In 2014, voters passed Measure AA enabling Midpen to begin intensive work preparing the Preserve for public use. Midpen approved a long-term master plan for Bear Creek Redwoods in January of 2017. The Alma College site and an additional 15 miles of trail, including the new multi-use regional trail connection, will be phased in over the next fifteen years. For more information visit the Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan page.

Phase I will open for public access daily, beginning June 8, 2019.

Features

  • Preserved redwood forests in close proximity to urban Santa Clara Valley. A few old-growth trees that were spared the logger’s axes remain along the Alma Trail. 
  • A rich cultural history, including use by Native Americans, loggers, wealthy Gold Rush-era families and the West Coast’s first Jesuit school of theology. (Some areas are undergoing renovation and are scheduled to open to the public in a future phase).
  • The San Andreas Fault runs through the Preserve, shaping its unique geology.
  • Diverse wildlife, including several species of bats, belted kingfishers, Western pond turtles, mountain lions and black-tailed deer. Bald eagles are occasionally seen soaring overhead.
  • Restored creeks provide critical habitat for special-status species, including Santa Cruz black and California giant salamanders.

Bear Creek Redwoods is currently closed to all public access. An initial phase of public access improvements to the western area of the Preserve will be open daily, beginning June 8, 2019.

Trails

Upper Lake Loop Trail

Beginning at the parking lot, the Upper Lake Loop Trail features historic views, habitat restoration sites and artifacts such as Native American bedrock mortars. Information for a self-guided interpretive tour is included in the brochure map that will be available at the Preserve entrance. The Loop Trail is an accessible pathway and can easily accommodate mobility devices, strollers, and users of all ages and abilities.

Alma, Redwoods Springs and Madrone Trails

Six miles of trails west of Bear Creek Road pass through shaded redwood and fir forests, along cool perennial creeks and offer spectacular views of the Sierra Azul Range. Be prepared: These trails climb from the parking area located at 1,000 feet in elevation to Madrone Knoll, the highest point, at 2,400 feet.

Guided hikes at Bear Creek Redwoods will begin this summer. They will be listed on the Docent-led Activities page starting in early June.

Trail Conditions

No trail conditions to report.

The majority of the current Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve was used for timber harvest from the mid-to-late 1800s. Once the timber industry was replaced by a private estate, a number of orchards and vineyards were established throughout the property. However, timber harvest continued on some properties well into the mid 1900s. In 1934, the majority of what is now Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve was sold to the Jesuits, who established the theological Alma College on the grounds of the Tevis Estate.

The College closed in 1969, and the property was slated to be developed into a golf course and country club, until POST and Midpen purchased the property in 1999 to save it from development.

  • Hours: Open half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
  • Bicyclists: Bikes are NOT allowed in this Preserve. For information on preserves open to bikes 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.
  • Permits: A use permit is required for any activity or event which: may be attended by twenty (20) or more people; OR is advertised or noticed in any publication, poster, electronic posting or flyer; OR requests/requires a fee be paid for participation. Visit the Permit page for more information.
     
  • 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

  • This Preserve is currenly closed to the public.
  • Groups: Permits for for outside group activities or events at Bear Creek Redwoods will not be issued during the first several months of public access while we evaluate usage patterns at the preserve. Please check back in August for updates.

Preserve Info

Hiking
Equestrian
Wheelchair accessible
Restrooms

Hours

Open half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.

Preserve Activities