Sierra Azul Traverse, CA

Guide 1 Triplog Mine 0 0 Topics
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no permit
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 12.17 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,414 feet
Elevation Gain 1,597 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,521 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 24.78
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
8  2013-03-23 JimmyLyding
author avatar Guides 111
Routes 433
Photos 4,307
Trips 781 map ( 4,566 miles )
Age 48 Male Gender
Location Walnut Creek, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred May, Oct, Jun, Sep → 6 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:13am - 7:14pm
0 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
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by JimmyLyding

This shuttle hike across the length of the Sierra Azul mountain range south of San Jose would be unremarkable if it wasn't such a good workout. The Sierra Azul are covered in primarily dense chaparral, but there are a few pockets of bay laurel, Douglas fir, and birch in drainages. There is also a giant white box on top of Mount Umunhum that looms over the eastern half of this hike. This Cold War relic cannot be visited because the summit is off-limits due to contamination by asbestos and other nasty stuff. Some people do want to visit the summit, and have gone to great lengths to chronicle their criminal behavior on the internet.

This shuttle hike starts out at the trailhead off of Hicks Road in Almaden Quicksilver County Park and goes to the east side of Lexington Reservoir, and it is pleasant enough for the first mile. The Woods Trail travels high above Guadalupe Creek before crossing it 1.5 miles in. A mellow mile-long climb is followed by 1,200' over 3 miles. It isn't bad, but it is unrelenting. The views open up here, and Mount Umunhum is prominent to your left.

You reach the high point of the hike a shade under 6 miles from Hicks Road via a short, primitive service road under the power lines to the right. There is no real summit and only more views of Umunhum, but there are a few nice spots for a break.

The high point of this hike is conveniently at the halfway point, but the way down is no picnic. You don't lose much elevation over the next 2 miles, but you do go up and down quite a bit. The Woods Trail ends at the eastern ends of the Kennedy and Limekiln trails. Go right onto the Kennedy Trail then left on the Priest Rock Trail 1.5 miles later as the rest of the hike loses 2,000' by going down steep inclines with a bunch of small uphills before ending up at Alma Bridge Road.

The fact that this hike has over 2,500' AEG may be surprising, but the numerous small uphills, most of which are about 50', make this a good challenge. Walking down the steep, ramp-like Priest Rock Trail has to be better than walking up it. In fact, reversing this hike by going from Lexington Reservoir to Hicks Road adds 730' of AEG for a grand total of over 3,200'.

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2013-03-27 JimmyLyding
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    East Trailhead (2,500' AEG): From Hwy 85 in San Jose take Camden Road south 2 miles. Go right on Hicks Road, and go about 4 miles to a small parking lot on the right about 1/2 mile past Guadalupe Reservoir. West Trailhead (3,200' AEG): Take Hwy 17 to the Lexington Reservoir exit (northbound or southbound), and take the frontage road between the highway and the reservoir 1/2 mile to Alma Bridge Road. Take Alma Bridge about a mile to 2 small trailheads on the left that are about 1/4 mile apart. The amenities consist of an information kiosk with free maps and a vault toilet.
    page created by JimmyLyding on Mar 27 2013 9:46 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    prehydrate & stay hydrated

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