On official maps, this is called Limekiln, but everyone knows it as Overgrown. (On the Krebs map it's called Illegal trail for some reason). This is a butt-kicking trail that will give you a pretty good idea of your fitness level and trail skills.
Overgrown is almost totally shaded, which makes it ideal on a hot day. It's not exactly singletrack, but it sure feels like it.
There are roughly six steep climbs spread along the length of the trail, each one harder than the next. The last one is usually covered with loose dirt and lots of small rocks, making line choice, balance, and endurance crucial unless you want to dab.
When (if) you make it to the top, you'll come to a four way intersection. Turn right to go down the Priest Rock trail. There's a little more climbing to do, but it is mellow. Eventually, after some fun downhill, you'll make it back to the lake, 1/2 mile up the road from the trailhead.
Hikers (and rangers) are rare on Overgrown, but you may see one or two on Priest Rock, usually towards the bottom. Horses are not uncommon on Priest Rock, also.
Overgrown has been temporarily closed several times in the last few years because of slides. You may want to check with the open space district first (www.openspace.org). Closures always last much longer than necessary, but rangers have ticketed friends who ignore the barriers.
From Silicon Valley, take Hwy 17 South to Bear Creek Road. Get off, cross over, and get back on Northbound. Get off at Alma Bridge Road.
From Santa Cruz, take Hwy 17 North to Alma Bridge Road.
Alma Bridge Road is 1/2 mile north of Bear Creek Road, and only accessible from northbound 17.
Go about 1 mile on Alma Bridge Road (over the dam, past the boat launch, up the hill, past the quarry entrance). Just across the bridge is the trailhead.
There is usually room to park off the road. If not, there is plenty of parking near the dam.
You can also start in Los Gatos and come up the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Or even better, come up from town through St. Joseph OSP. That's what I do.
Summary: Limekiln (Overgrown) is a challenge for novice riders. Its steep climbs are varied in difficulty and required dexterity. Required technical still is high, but the trail is shady so it's easy to stay cool.
For the experienced rider, this trail is a challenging technical uphill, but nothing you cannot accomplish if you had a good breakfast and you are in reasonable shape.
Recommended Route: Take Highway 17 to Bear Creek Road. Cross over the highway and get back on going towards Los Gatos. About 200 meters after you enter the highway, there's an exit for Alma Bridge Road. Exit and follow the road past the dam. You can park at the lake lot (paid) and ride in, or you can drive past the lot and park immediately after the road drops into a hairpin at the Overgrown trailhead.
Climb Overgrown and either continue up Dogmeat (left, VERY challenging), climb up to Woods (straight at the intersection with super-steep sections and a few downhills), or turn right and ride the ridge to the Priest Rock downhill which takes you back to the road. Turn right on the road and head back to the car.
Many people start Overgrown by riding St. Joseph's first. If you choose this route, you have the option of parking in downtown los gatos.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Montevina, St. Joseph's, Woods Trail
Summary: Spectacularly grueling hell climb, and good down swoop.
Recommended Route: I read all the reviews of this area, and everyone seems to do it the wrong direction. The fun way is to start at Lexington reservoir, and go UP overgrown (the second green gate,) at the four way intersection, take the left, and go UP Dogmeat. This is a good climb. You must use your best smooth electric power output and ballet steering skills to make it past the crux at the oak tree, and it helps to be in a really foul mood to continue up the last ten minutes and do the whole thing without dabbing.
At the top of dogmeat, you turn right and continue up Kennedy towards woods. Keep your foul disposition rolling to stay dab-free up the three little steep bits, which are only tough because you pummeled yourself so well up Dogmeat.
At the woods trail intersection, put on all your warm cloths, check your tire pressure, reset your suspension for downhill handling, and finish off your water. Go right and take the Limekiln downhill. Limekiln is intolerably tedious uphill, but a great fast downhill slalom, unlike the sit-there-and-just-hang-on downhill of Dogmeat.
At the four way intersection, either overgrown or left down Priest Rock will get you back to Lexington.
Other recommended trails in the same area: woods trail downhill (dull uphill)
Summary: I have read all the other reveiws and have to disagree. If you ride up Kennedy and take time to vomit and regain consciousness, then this trail is for you. Ok, your at the top of kennedy and feeling pretty good minus seeing spots and forgetting your name. Maybe your lower back hurts and your butt hurts a little. I would suggest if you have the time to ride down dogmeat or whatever it is called and take overgrown all the way down. This trail is fast and loose! If you feel like you want to really go balls out then good luck. Some turns come up fast and there is a washed out gulley in most of the trail. This can suck your wheel in and toss you off. Overgrown is still a better option than going back down kennedy (boring fireroad). Have fun and watch for hikers. They tend to get upset when you slam into them from behind and send them down the cliffs.
Recommended Route: Park at the trailhead of kennedy and ride up. Then ride down dogmeat till you get to an intersection with a fence. Take a right and go down overgrown. Ride all the way to downtown Los Gatos and road ride it back to the car. It is a great workout ride and mostly fun.
Review Date October 21, 2002
Overall Rating 1 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Visitors rate this review 1.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Ryan
, from Santa Cruz Mtns
Summary: Don't waste your time riding here. If you need to get a quick workout this is a good ride on the way home. It's all fireroads, and the long climbs lead you to boring descents. I rode about 25 miles here and ran into some cool people who were very helpful, but the trails are unimpressive.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Soquel Demonstration Forest