A short walk to long views
Heintz Open Space
If you like scenic views within the distance of a short drive and a short walk, be sure to visit Heintz Open Space in Los Gatos. The trailhead is located at the south end of the Regent Drive loop, a few blocks south of Blossom Hill Road, and a short distance east of Union. Limited curbside parking is available.
Yes, the walk up Valley View Trail is relatively steep, and unlike most uphill climbs, there are few switchbacks. You hike almost straight up, with only a few curves, for about two-fifths of a mile to the intersection with Sky Lane Trail. Fortunately, just before the intersection, you’ll enjoy a good view up the Peninsula, and, perhaps even better, a picnic table for a brief rest and snack.
After your well-earned break, a few steps take you to an intersection of two trails that form a four-fifths of a mile loop. I recommend taking the left fork. (You’ll avoid another steep uphill climb.) A short walk on a relatively flat and curving trail brings you to an excellent lookout bench with views to the southeast. As you hike along the trail around the hilltop, you pass through a forest of beautiful old oaks. It’s a pleasant walk on a wide, shady, and mostly flat trail.
About halfway around the loop, you’ll come to an intersection with a trail that connects to Santa Rosa Trail and Open Space. If you wish to extend your hike, you can take this trail a half-mile to either Belgatos Park (near Blossom Hill Road) or a mile to Shannon Road. (For more about these trails see our October 2011 issue.)
Continuing around the loop on Sky Lane Trail takes you back to your first intersection, and then a walk down to the trailhead. As you descend, you will see another trail to the left. This is Vista Trail, perhaps misnamed, because it doesn’t offer many scenic views, certainly not as many or as dramatic as the Valley View/Sky Lane loop.
Although several articles and maps refer to “Heinz” rather than “Heintz,” this open space area is named for the previous owners, Ralph and Sophie Heintz. Upon their deaths they left their property to the University of California Cecilia Vaughn Memorial Fellowship for ophthalmic research. Part of the property was developed. The balance of nearly ninety acres and the, now restored, Heintz home and barn were turned over to the Town of Los Gatos as open space.
Ralph Heintz invented the Ocutome surgical eye instrument and a more efficient Straticharge internal combustion engine. He held over 200 patents. Four of his inventions are in the Smithsonian collection.
Sophie was an avid ham-radio operator. She received the Radio Award from the U.S. Marine Corps.
Our thanks go to Ralph and Sophie Heintz, and to the Town of Los Gatos, for this short walk to long views.
For a handdrawn but useful pdf map click on Heintz Open Space at the Los Gatos website: www.losgatosca.gov.