Mount Eden Hikes
After a surprisingly interesting hike on Saratoga’s Parker Ranch loop trail, I tried some other Saratoga trails in the Mount Eden Road area near the Mountain Winery and Garrod Farms. Perhaps the most interesting part of this exploration was searching for the trails. Even with a map supplied by the city of Saratoga, finding a trailhead was difficult.
In fact, I never found the Pierce Road entrance or a place to park, so I drove on to Terralink Way where I turned left, continued to Damon Lane, and then right to Mount Eden Road. At the intersection, I found a small wooden post marked with hoof-and-foot symbols. I drove right on Mount Eden until I found an open space off the road distinguished by a parked car. I walked back to the intersection, and followed the roadside trail to the other end of the Damon Lane loop, and then back to my car. It was not a particularly interesting jaunt.
My search continued with a drive up to River Oaks Road. A right turn on River Oaks took me through a grand subdivision entrance. It would have been even more impressive but the sign for Mt. Eden Estates was missing a few letters. The road, however, was wider, cleaner, and better maintained than any I’ve seen in our part of the mountains.
The houses were even more imposing. These huge brown multi-million-dollar monster homes are a salute to conspicuous consumption. I had discovered where the one-percenters lived. Yet these giant homes were rather ugly. For some reason, expensive residential architecture poses a severe challenge to architects. They mix many architectural styles, but in trying to look different their appearance is similarly bad. Perhaps I’m jealous, but our somewhat smaller mountain homes have more character and diversity.
Although I didn’t see any “no parking” signs, my guess was that deed restrictions might prohibit on-street parking. I drove a short distance to the end of the road where my parked car would be less conspicuous.
I walked back up the hill. On the right side of the road I found a small sign announcing a trail. It circled behind the houses up to a ridge with some nice views of upscale suburbia. Although I saw no signage the path was obvious and easy-to-follow. It wasn’t Yosemite, but it provided a nice walk. The trail ended at Edencrest Lane.
The safest and most nature-like return from the end-of-trail would be backtracking, but in the interests of exploration, I walked down Edencrest to Mt. Eden, turned left to Villa Oaks Road, and another left through the grand entrance and back to my car. Although I didn’t look like a resident, I blended well with the many gardeners and contractors who provided the human landscape. The total distance for this walk was a little more than a mile.
To extend my explorations, I walked past the closed gate and down the abandoned road past Vaquero Court to Pierce, and back again. A woman walking her dog said hello. I looked a bit rough, but when she saw my camera, she engaged me in a rather lengthy conversation about mountain lions and other wildlife.
If you are interested in the Saratoga area, this is a pleasant tour, but if you want to experience more nature nearby, you may be better off visiting local open-space preserves or walking in your own mountain neighborhood.
Hikers and would-be hikers may enjoy a new non-fiction book called Wild written by Cheryl Strayed. It’s the story of how a woman went from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail.