Easy to Intermediate. Steep. Some new riders may consider this trail Hard because of the steepness. It is relatively short. There are multiple trails up the hill. Mostly fireroads with some hidden singletrack. Nice views from the top. Can be crowded in the summer evenings and weekends.
Take State Highway 17 to Los Gatos. Park downtown or near Los Gatos High School. Take Main Street to College Ave (@ Penthouse Apts), turn on College up the hill to the right, turn right on Jones. Follow Jones to the trailhead.
Summary: Great trail for a workout, nice views. I have been riding this trail for 25 years. However, the open space preserve has hired way too many rangers and that has ruined the trails. I got a $400 ticket for riding 19 mph on a fire road down hill in the middle of nowhere.
They literally have rangers posted up with radar guns hidden behind bushes, I am not kidding here!
Recommended Route: Don't ride any open space district trails. They all have a 15 mph speed limit and a 5 mph limit if you ride past a hiker. The trails are crawling with rangers.
Cut the State Park Funding and leave the parks open!!!!!!!
Other recommended trails in the same area: Nothing in Open Space "Preserve"
Summary: This is a trail for those who want instant gratification; it is a little over a mile long and 600-ft. climb from bottom to top. The trail is primarily wide fire road... not particularly interesting or difficult to climb. I liken the broken asphalt fire road at the beginning of the trail to a stairmaster because I think it is excruciating. Chug your way up it and the other connecting trails to reach the top. On the way Serpentine Trail provides some amusement. At the peak you get a great view of the vicinity.
Recommended Route: From Alma Bridge Rd. on top of Lexington Reservoir take Jones Trail up to Manzanita Trail. Fork over to the slice of singletrack known as Serpentine Trail and then back to Manzanita Trail on your way to the peak.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Priest Rock Trail and Limekiln Trail.
Summary: Decent mtn. bike ride if you live nearby and ride to the trailhead. I see riders parking on Jones road. This makes me laugh, why bother?. Of course, the "mtn bikers" that park close to the St. Joes are the same ones that get EXTREMELY dressed-up, all pretty in their tight mono-suits...HA HA HA HA!
O.K. all joking aside: Ride to the trailhead from home, climb St. Joe's in your middle chain ring and ride HARD, ride back home. Better than a spin class for those of us that have to work for a living, not like all the trust-a-farians in L.G. hanging out at the coffee-roasting place 24/7....
Recommended Route: 1. Ride Los Gatos creek trail to top of damn, up through gate to hilltop vista sign, climb serpentine trail to top. Ride back down.
2. Avoid the idiots walking on the Los Gatos creek trail: Ride up Jones, basically, do the ride in reverse. When you come to Manzanita trail, go right (you're climbing it in a counter-clockwise direction) climb serpintine trail, go to the top, back down and out the same way you came up. You will avoid all the foot traffic and people chatting, the team in training IDIOTS who think they own the trail- get the picture?
Other recommended trails in the same area: Woods, Kennedy, Overgrown, El Sereno, et al.
Summary: This trail/area involves climbing up to the top of St. Joseph's, a hilltop that offers a very good view of the South Bay Area. On a clear day (rare), you'll be able to see the tallest buildings in San Francisco, outlined in the distance.
There is not much in the way of technical challenges here: it's mostly about climbing fire roads, and avoiding head-on collisions with others who are going too fast downhill. Riders should note: it's very common for Radar-wielding Rangers to loiter at the bottom of certain hills; they don't like it when bikers go too fast. And that makes sense, because this area is frequented by families, strollers, retired folks and kids. In short: this isn't the place to cut loose and satisfy your need for speed. In fact, it's sort of like the opposite of that.
On the other hand, here's what this place is about: St. Joseph's allows a pretty good uphill workout, where you'll get sustained, consistent climbing action that helps you build your legs, while looking at some nice scenery. Riders should note this area attaches to some other locally-grown rides that are not so forgiving and easy-going (Dogmeat, etc.) So, if you all about brutal climbs and really, deeply-scary downhill action, then point your bike over there (look under "Los Gatos").
Back to St. Joseph's: This is not an all-day-at-the-park kind of experience. You'll find that the climb (from bottom to top) takes about thirty minutes, roughly). I ride this trail quite a bit because I live in Los Gatos, and like to climb that hill after a hard day at the office. After climbing, I typically ride back down halfway, and turn toward Lexington Dam, where there are a couple of steep little sections facing downhill. The Los Gatos Creek Trail takes the rider back to downtown Los Gatos, or Vasona Park (if you stay on the path).
Recommended Route: Start in downtown Los Gatos, at the Penthouse Apartment building: go uphill, take a right, and another right; you'll come to a gate, where the trailhead begins. Stay to the fire road on the left, as the trail that veers to the right is for pedestrians only; and the one that heads off to the meadow (far right) is going to the Los Gatos Creek Trail.
Keep climbing; take a left when you come to a fork in the trail; take another left at the next fork. There is a short, steep section that can be brutally hot on summer days.
Take a right upon reaching the next fork; the trail begins to flatten out. You'll see a semi-hidden single-track called "Serpentine" off on the left side, after just a few minutes. Keep your eyes open for this one. It's fun, but best done when there aren't a lot of other riders around, cause there are potential traffic jams on this.
Whether you take Serpentine or not, you'll end up at the top. Not much chance of getting lost around here. Enjoy the view.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Wilder Ranch: Santa Cruz
Summary: Well I tried something new today. Seeing as how the weather was acting up I figured the rain would wash away most of the foot traffic on this little trail, I was sort of right. I went in at about 3pm figured with the weather and the muddy conditions from the previous days of rain it might be fairly empty. I was very right, but unpleasantly wrong. If you ride on a weekday don't go at 3pm. The Los Gatos High School girls cross country team is up there running around. While I don't mind sharing the trail I do mind nearly gagging on the overwhelming odor of PERFUME!! I could smell these girls a quarter mile away! Don't get me wrong, it was typical expensive los gatos type perfume, but man was it strong, especially when all 11 of them were most likely bathing in it just prior to my arrival. By the time I passed them I could smell it on my own clothes, so I stayed out in the rain for a while so I wouldn't come home to an angry wife.
Anyway, the real review:
This trail is fun, sorta. The congestion and the blind corners make it a sorta. I haven't seen rangers out there, but I'm sure they exist, watch your speed as I'm sure most of the people on this trail have a laywer on speed dial. If you stay on the jones trail you can get yourself over to lexington and if you so choose take a much more mild return back to where you came from.. or you can turn around and go right back the way you came, which will be a rather steep hill for those not in shape.
I wouldn't take a newbie rider here as the climb can get them tired and discouraged. But if you're looking for a quick ride just stay on the jones trail, its about a 3mi. round trip from start to finish(according to my little computer).
Recommended Route: Park on Main St. or next to Penthouse Apartments. Ride up College, turn right on Jones, follow to trailhead.
DO NOT drive to the trailhead as the street gets very very skinny and there is no sidewalk to speak of. Not to mention no formal parking. There is lots of free parking in downtown LG as well.