Sometimes you want a walk, not a hike. Here are some nearby walks to share with children, flatland friends, and non-hikers without trespassing. Perhaps you just want a pleasant stroll without a long drive or breaking a sweat. If so, you may enjoy these easy alternatives.
Summit area options
You can follow the Summit Trail from Old Summit Road at the Loma Prieta Fire and Rescue station all the way to Summit Store. If this six-mile trip is too much, you can cut it short by going from Old Summit or Summit Store to Villa del Monte and back, a three-mile loop.
If you want more nature and fewer cars, walk the Morrill Road on the Santa Clara side down through some shady forest. You are walking on a road, but it’s relatively flat, and there is very little traffic. This is an especially good cool walk in the summer. If you don’t like a two-mile up-and-back walk on the same road, you can complete the loop on the Summit Trail.
If you want a much shorter nature walk, go behind and to the right of the amphitheater in the Loma Playfield across Summit Road from the main-school campus. A large “Loma Prieta Nature Trail” sign welcomes you, but only if the gate is open. Once inside the gate, just follow the loop marked by fallen tree branches. Embedded steps help on the steeper sections.
If you want a public walkway with a view, follow Loma Prieta Avenue to the dirt road section. There is minimal traffic and you can see good scenic views to the south as you walk toward the intersection of Mt. Bache Road and Loma Prieta Way.
Although many casual strollers, runners, and dog-walkers use the Summit Christmas Tree Farm behind the schools, it is private property. Treat it with respect. If you bring your dog, be sure to clean up any messes.
Trail bikers love Soquel Demonstration Forest, but the long trails and limited scenic views aren’t the best for walkers. (See the new flow trail story on this page.)
The two big MidPeninsula Open Space preserves, Bear Creek and Sierra Azul, have limited value to casual walkers. Bear Creek requires a permit that you must request a few days before your visit. Most Sierra Azul trails are long, especially those above Lexington Reservoir.
A better choice for a short walk is a loop that combines the Flume, Los Gatos, and Jones trails. The Los Gatos Creek Trail from the Los Gatos History Museum at Forbes Mill to Lexington Dam offers a flat, easy trail, perfect for casual walking, biking, running, dog walking, and stroller-pushing. The Flume Trail takes you up a relatively easy uphill single-track trail from the Los Gatos Creek Trail to the Jones Trail. The Jones Trail provides a wide old road that runs above and parallel to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Depending on your wants, each of these trails can give you some healthy exercise, but combining all three promises more variety and a richer experience.
About halfway between the Flume/Jones intersection and Lexington Reservoir on Jones Trail, you can see more by turning up on the Novitiate Trail to the 1250-foot summit of St. Joseph’s Hill. It’s a bit of a climb up 1.5 miles of rocky trail, but on a clear day you’ll enjoy the views of Santa Clara Valley, Lexington Reservoir, and the Sierra Azul mountain range.
The Lake Ranch Trail off Black Road is a nice, relatively flat trail that wanders along a 2000-foot ridge southwest of Lyndon Canyon. You’ll see views toward Montevina Road. The Lake Ranch Reservoir may have little or no water this year, but you may find some pretty wildflowers. The round trip is about three and one-half miles.
Other nearby trails
I understand that Byington Vineyard and Winery has opened public trails near the winery. Byington is 5.5 miles from Highway 17 on the left side of Bear Creek Road. If you have walked these trails, let me know whether it’s worth the drive.
Las Cumbres, off Skyline Boulevard between Black Road and Castle Rock, has many interesting trails, but they are reserved for Las Cumbres residents and guests. Perhaps a resident can show you around.
Do you know some local trails along less-traveled roads, public or semi-public areas, or other places where you can walk without fear of trespassing? Email me at email@example.com. I’m always looking for friendly trails.