Two walks close to home
There are two local Summit trails. One runs east 1.3 miles from Del Monte Way (the sign says Delmonte) across from the Villa del Monte subdivision along the north (Santa Clara County) side of Summit Road to Loma Prieta Avenue. The other goes west 1.4 miles from Del Monte Way along the south (Santa Cruz County) side to Old Summit Road.
The two trails have much in common. They are narrow, poorly maintained, and usually perilously close to Summit Road traffic. On the other hand (or foot), they are conveniently nearby, safer than walking or riding on Summit Road, and can take you to some interesting places by foot, bicycle, or horse.
Del Monte Way to Loma Prieta Avenue
The trail to Loma Prieta Avenue takes you past Barrie Coates’ gardens, and Timmus Lane (Summit spelled backward). It also passes Morrill Road, a lightly traveled one-mile loop through deep forest behind the Loma Prieta Playfield that is a great shady detour, especially in summer. Note that on the Santa Cruz side of the road, Morrill becomes Morrell. (Santa Cruz is right. H.C. Morrell bought his home on the Summit in 1867. His wife was Clarissa Burrell, daughter of Lyman Burrell, a pioneer often recognized as the first permanent resident of the Summit area.)
The big grassy field of the Loma Prieta Playfield is a good place to walk to and in. You can also walk back into the redwoods behind the field, or take a short hike down the Loma Prieta Redwood Trail. Across the road is another good place to walk, the Christmas tree farm behind the Loma-CTE campus.
Continuing along Summit, you’ll pass the Mountain Bible Church and Pippa’s home and gardens, the site of many wonderful folk music concerts. In this section be sure to stay below the posted 25 mph lighted sign when children are present (or else!)
As we pass the other end of Morrill, the trail widens to become a parking lot for Burrell School and Regale wineries. Looking north, we see the mountain ridges of Sierra Azul Open Space, including Mt. El Sombroso (2999 feet), Mt. Thayer (3483 feet), and Mt. Umunhum (3486 feet), places that will become more accessible when these areas are opened to the public.
The trail ends at Loma Prieta Avenue, which is a shame, because around that little hill and blind curve is the Summit Store, a great place to visit, especially after a long walk. I wouldn’t walk around that curve, but I’ve heard that some people go up Loma Prieta Avenue, turn right at the first road, and then turn right again on a private driveway.
Del Monte Way to Old Summit
The Santa Cruz version of the Summit Trail begins as a wide path in front of a concrete wall along the northern edge of Villa del Monte. You cross Sunset Drive across the road from Summit Veterinary Hospital, then by the Catholic Church on the south, and the Mormon Church on the north.
Further west, you continue past Trail Ridge, the road to the Hughes’ elegant and beautiful gardens of Maison du Lac. If you are hungry, stop by the Taylor Ranch, home of fresh mountain produce. You next travel through a forested section, then up and down little grades. By the time you get near Old Summit, you find yourself below road level, looking up at the traffic.
If you don’t want your trip to end, you can walk bumpy Old Summit all the way to the Highway 17 parking lot. It’s easier to walk rather than drive this road. It is in definite need of repair.
According to Marlene Wiley’s “Summit Pathway” story in the May 1997 issue of MNN, “Ed Lopez and Dick Stebbins graded the path east from Villa del Monte to Loma Prieta Avenue in 1969, Santa Clara County did the oiling. In the early 1970s, the Patchen 4-H Club cleared a path from near the old Pheasant Farm on Old Summit Road eastward almost to Old Santa Cruz Highway.”
In early 1992, Mike Hart, a member of the Loma Prieta Community Foundation and an enthusiastic community builder, began a campaign to construct an all-weather, multi-purpose trail. His drive, combined with the support of Santa Cruz County Supervisor Jan Beautz, resulted in the dedication of the Summit Pathway on October 18, 1997. As reported in the November 1997 issue of MNN, “Speakers included Teall Messer, acting planning commissioner, Santa Cruz County; Leslie Meehan, president of the Loma Prieta Community Foundation; Scott Salsbury, Loma Prieta school board member, and Mike Hart, the community activist who successfully campaigned for the new trail. Neil Wiley served as the master of ceremonies and provided the appropriate food for the occasion—trail mix. Everyone thanked Mike Hart for his persistence, Supervisor Jan Beautz for her support, and Santa Cruz County for funding.”
The next chapter
Unfortunately, Mike Hart left our area to run several railroads. Although the trails still serve our community, both are in deplorable condition. Hopefully, someone with the enthusiasm and drive of a Mike Hart will further improve the trails along the main street of the Summit area. Our community deserves better multi-use trails.