Phase I groundbreaking in 2018 / photo by Midpen staff

Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan

Phase I groundbreaking in 2018

Located three miles south of Los Gatos, the nearly 1,500-acre Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve features fir and redwood forests, perennial creeks and views of the Sierra Azul Range, as well as cultural and historic resources like a close-knit equestrian community and the former site of the first Jesuit seminary on the west coast. A public-private partnership led by Midpen and the Peninsula Open Space Trust preserved the land as public open space in 1999, protecting it from being developed into a golf course and luxury homes.

After a decade-long process that included substantial public outreach and involvement, Midpen completed the Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan, a long-term use and management plan for the preserve, in 2017. Stewardship actions, including invasive nonnative plant species abatement, erosion reduction, habitat restoration and cultural resources protection, received the highest priority. Implemented in three phases, the preserve plan also included public access improvements, including parking areas, hiking and equestrian trails and a multiuse trail connecting the Lexington Reservoir area to Highway 35 (Skyline/Summit Roads).

Midpen also developed an Integrated Pest Management Plan for Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve to guide the prevention, detection and control of priority plant species. During each phase of the preserve plan, Midpen is proactively managing invasive species so that construction and recreation do not spread harmful nonnative species any further within the preserve, particularly to sensitive restoration areas. Learn more about Midpen's award-winning Integrated Pest Management Program >

Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
Natural Resources
Public Access, Education, and Outreach
Public Access
illustration of a bird in flight next to the letters MAA
Measure AA
Webb Creek Bridge nestled among redwood trees / photo by Heather Diaz

Goals and Objectives

Public Use and Facilities

  • Allow general public access and enhance recreational opportunities in the preserve
    • Follow appropriate steps to responsibly open the preserve to the public for low intensity recreation and enjoyment
    • Expand and improve the preserve trail system
    • Introduce a safe pedestrian crossing on Bear Creek Road to connect the preserve’s east and west sides
    • Where appropriate, allow bicycle use; consider a multiuse trail facility
    • Expand and improve preserve parking capacity
    • Provide trail-related amenities
  • Provide low-impact, high-value site-sensitive interpretation and education activities
    • Ensure any new visitor access features are sited and designed to protect landscape visual character
    • Provide opportunities to learn about natural resources and foster public appreciation of open space values
  • Expand opportunities for people with diverse physical abilities to enjoy the preserve
    • Expand and improve ADA parking
    • Provide loop trails and connection to parking areas and key destination sites, as well as those with a wide range of difficulty to reflect a diverse population
  • Provide regional and local trail connections
    • Strive to provide connections with key preserve destinations and adjacent open spaces and parks
    • Seek to attain easements, where needed, to make key trail connections to adjacent open space
    • Provide an appropriate and safe pedestrian road crossing to enhance site and trail linkages
  • Actively involve the public in the use and management of the preserve
    • Provide opportunities to learn about and support resource management activities through docent, volunteer, and other outreach programs
    • Encourage and engage the public and neighbors in future plan amendments that affect the use and management of the preserve

Natural Resource Management

  • Increase the acreage of protected habitat and connectivity to wildlife corridors
    • Continue to purchase properties and conservation easements to expand and protect the preserve’s natural resources, aesthetic values, and connectivity
    • Maintain working relationships with other land owners and stakeholders in the vicinity of the preserve to coordinate efforts to identify and retain habitat linkages
  • Protect habitats that support diverse biological resources, are unique, or are important for the conservation of rare, threatened and endangered species
    • Protect and enhance special-status species habitat and other sensitive biotic communities
    • Protect and, where appropriate, enhance forest habitat
    • Plan public access features to avoid adverse impacts and habitat fragmentation
    • Identify wildlife movement corridors; work cooperatively with neighboring landowners and agencies to identify and preserve corridors and habitat linkages
    • Restrict access to areas that require intensive resource management or support sensitive biotic resources
  • Protect native wildlife
    • Identify, protect, and monitor special-status wildlife populations
  • Repair and monitor ecologically damaged and disturbed areas
    • Control key invasive plant species
    • Manage Sudden Oak Death
    • Restore degraded or disturbed areas
  • Protect waterways and associated natural lands to maintain water quality, watershed function, and healthy aquatic habitat
    • Protect water quality and improve stream habitat
    • Treat stormwater runoff and monitor potential sources of sediment and pollutants
    • Identify and maintain existing springs, water infrastructure and water rights

Cultural Resource Management

  • Protect and interpret significant historical and cultural resources
    • Organize and increase the Midpen's knowledge of the preserve’s cultural resources
    • Implement cultural resource protection measures and protect historically significant structures
  • Within Midpen’s basic mission, rehabilitate the former Alma College site so it can be integrated into the preserve, while respecting the site’s history, character and cultural landscape
    • Restore and reuse the former Alma College site according to federal guidelines for the rehabilitation of cultural landscapes
    • Preserve historic structures that retain integrity and significance to the cultural landscape
    • Ensure the safety and security of visitors to the site
    • Interpret the site’s history in a compelling and engaging manner
    • Balance Midpen’s mission with potential improvements and programs

Maintenance and Operations

  • Maintain trails and facilities to protect the natural environment and provide for a quality visitor experience
    • Maintain a high quality, low maintenance, safe and enjoyable road and trail system
    • Reduce potential user conflicts
    • Reduce and control sources of road and trail-related erosion and sedimentation
    • Use best management practices during facility construction and maintenance to control erosion
  • Address environmental hazards
    • Retrofit existing structures and site new trails and facilities to reduce seismic risk
    • Remediate contaminated areas and other hazards associated with past landowners and former land use practices
  • Reduce wildfire risk
    • Manage wildland fuels and reduce fire hazards to natural resources, structures, and facilities
    • Facilitate wildland fire response and suppression
    • Develop fire response procedures and plans for lease areas
  • Ensure that all leases, easements, access agreements, and other legal arrangements are consistent with preserve plan goals and Midpen’s mission
    • Work cooperatively with lessees to ensure lease facilities are maintained in working and safe condition as part of the Bear Creek Stables site plan
    • Ensure conditions of easements and other access agreements with neighboring landowners are met
    • Work cooperatively with lessees to improve facilities and provide educational opportunities


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Funded by Measure AA 2014 Open Space Bond

Funded by Measure AA

Thanks to supporters of the 2014 Measure AA open space bond, Midpen completed the first phase of public access improvements in 2019 and the western area of the preserve is now open to hikers and equestrians.