A Short Drive to New Trails
East Glenwood Open Space
Neil Wiley

In January, I reported on West Glenwood Open Space. This park, in nearby Scotts Valley, gives us the opportunity to enjoy nature just a ten-mile drive from Summit Road. An easy-to-follow network of interconnected trails is well-suited for short hikes, walking a dog, or riding a dirt bike. Elevations from 730 to 920 feet, and a mix of open meadows and mixed forest, provide interesting landscapes. All this—in only three miles of trail.

Now, a good thing is even better. There is a new preserve across the road that opened on June 27. East Glenwood Open Space offers 4.2 miles of new trails, great variety in environment, and a safer experience without bikers and dogs. (For now, East Glenwood is open only to hikers, but will be available to equestrians when their special parking lot opens.)

East Glenwood is more of a preserve than a park. It hosts threatened species, supports sensitive habitat, and is home to a herd of cows. Bikes and dogs would complicate conservation efforts in East Glenwood, but are welcomed at West Glenwood.

Cows maintain native grasslands and reduce woody encroachment and exotic invasions. They serve as an attraction, too. When I saw a young woman on the trail, I told her that cows were up on the ridge. She said, “I’ve never seen one close up.” Although cows seem more interested in eating grass than chasing hikers, maintaining social distance is better for both.

East Glenwood also features a large pond. It’s an attractive addition to the landscape, a valuable water resource, and a good place to see birds. I saw a blue heron, a family of ducks, and many small birds.

This preserve reflects a gentle, less-wild version of nature. Perhaps the key element is a feeling of open space. As you walk up the ridges, you can see large meadows, rolling hills, and groves of trees. Although some trails pass through forest, the many unobstructed views give a sense of freedom and breathing space. After months of “sheltering in place,” it’s a great feeling.

Directions. Take Highway 17 south to the Granite Creek overpass (Exit 5) in Scotts Valley. Cross Scotts Valley Drive, and then make a quick left on Glenwood Drive. Watch for a parking lot on the right. (You can use the address 300 Glenwood Drive for GPS.)

A small information sign in the parking lot maps the short walk north along Glenwood. It directs you to an unnamed right turn on a wide asphalt path. (If you reach Meadow View Drive, you’ve gone too far.) You cross two short bridges into Shugart Park, named for my former client, Al Shugart, founder of Seagate Technology. On the left, a small sign directs you to an unnamed connector path to the trails in East Glenwood Open Space.

The connector trail takes you to a boardwalk. When you cross it, you are on the Red Loop. A left takes you by the pond. A right takes you uphill to an elevation of 800 feet, and perhaps to a herd of cows. (I saw cows standing on a 45-degree slope. They looked like very big mountain goats.)

You can use this trail to reach the Gold Loop, which takes you to the highest point (940 feet) in the preserve. This trail also connects you with the well-forested Navy Loop. If you love shade, ferns, and even a few giant redwoods, you’ll enjoy this loop.

When the equestrian parking area and entrance opens on Canham Road later this year, riders can enter the park on a connector trail at the north end of the park. I saw three young riders and their beautiful horses testing the Navy Loop.

Although health rules are ever-changing, it is a safe practice to maintain social distance from other hikers. While masks are not always necessary, be sure to have one ready if someone gets too close.

For more information about East Glenwood Open Space, or to make a donation, visit landtrustsantacruz.org.