This trail is an interesting fire road off the beaten path. The first four miles are a gradual downhill with some upward ramps, which makes it a fairly tame trail. Then it jumps skyward, with a long steep section of small loose rocks that is a real challenge. Finally, it eases up for the final leg to the summit.
Because it is somewhat remote, this isn't a popular trail, although there always seems to be at least one other person on it. There's evidence of equestrians, too.
1. Take Hicks Road off of Camden in San Jose and go to the top. At the top, turn right on Mt. Umunhum Road. The trail head is right there.
2. Take Almaden Expressway almost to it's southern end. Turn right on Almaden Road, and go about 5 miles, through the town, past Quicksilver, up the dam, down to the other end of the lake. FYI, the road becomes Alamitos at some point. Turn right on Hicks road, take it to the top. Turn left on Mt. Umunhum Road. The trail head is right there.
Summary: The marked trails in this area are all pretty fun. Nothing technical at all, other than the occasional loose rock section. However, if you peer behind a bush every now and then you'll come across some hidden gems.
Although I can't get too detailed in their locales, let me just say that due to a bunch of lawyer hacks at Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District, these "open space" areas are anything but. Grandma Tilly sprained her ankle long ago and her pack of lawyers ensure that nobody else can enjoy anything but the most sterile piece of trail.
Ostensibly, if you were to sniff around the Summit Road area, you might run into an SA## gate (where ## is the numerical gate designation). Quite a few of these gates exist, but are nowhere to be found on the map. One of these trails is called *#)@()@ #(@)#, and leads you down to @@)#(%%#. It's a KILLER downhill section that is probably the most technical piece of singletrack/fireroad within 20 miles.
According to the Master Plan, all these trails will eventually be open to the public, but not until Mr. Lawyer and his grandma navigate the trail and remove any vestige of what might be construed to mountain bikers as 'technical'. Even though these are wild lands, anything that constitutes what our pre-colonial indian friends might have traversed is verboten and instantly flatened and legalized by a tractor.
You'd think that any space within a so-called open space would be, well, open, but they have different plans. They take their sweet time opening these places up, yet have enough money to buy radar guns to give unsuspecting mountain bikers tickets for going 16.3 in a 15 MPH zone. My European friends hear these stories--and one actually got said ticket--and literallly vomit and become ill when they digest the Orwellian nature of the "land of the free."
If you see a trail, ride it until told otherwise.
Recommended Route: Anywhere your bike will take you. Or until you run into someone's house.
Summary: Nice LONG lung BUSTER w/ stupendous views - especially early am when it's still a little foggy. Takes a while to get to the top of MT Sombroso, and the last mile or so is painful at best - it's hard to continously spin throught the loose gravel on those steep sections w/ out blowing a gasket. Light on traffic and downhill on Limekiln to Lexington reservoir is fun. Bring plenty of water and energy gel/bars - you'll need it.
Recommended Route: I extend the ride from Oakridge Mall (in S. San Jose) to Almaden Quicksilver @ Hacienda Entrance. Take Mine Hill up to the top (apprx 2.5 miles) and then take Woods Road trail down out of Quicksilver into Sierra Azul where Woods Trail meets up with Limekiln in about 8 miles. Take Limekiln down to Lexington, go right on Alma Bridge RD. Flip down to Los Gatos trail til it ends and take Willow road to 87 Guadalupe trail (follows 87 South) for about 5 miles. Guadalupe trail will dump you onto the beginning of Santa Teresa and back to Oakridge Mall. Total loop is 43 Miles and many, many calories.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Quicksilver for a workout, Santa Teresa, Saratoga Gap, Grant Ranch, Arastradero
Review Date September 3, 2003
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 4 of 5
Technical Difficulty 3 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a month
Reviewed by: xtrainer
Cross Country Rider
, from San Jose, CA
Summary: Grueling fire road climb with stellar views from the summit. Good way to test your cardio stamina. Only negative is all the flies that inevitably swarm you on the last climb up El Sombero. Loose sand and gravel downhill descents, open up to fast, relatively smooth surface on the Kennedy downhill (or take Limekiln if you enjoy the gravel and potential road rash). Great loop for after work or morning weekend ride.
Recommended Route: hicks to woods to kennedy to shannon back to hicks
Review Date April 22, 2002
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: Steve
, from Los Gatos, CA
Summary: Tried this ride yesterday after reading a review about it. It was excellent but quite a bit longer than I expected. Riding from University Ave, it took almost an hour and a half to get to the trail head including some pretty steep road climbing on Hicks. Once on the trail it is rolling and climbing - the toughest climbs at the top. It's all rideable but make sure you are in decent shape - once you get out there there's no turning back. Follow the signs to Limekiln and then go down Limekiln to the reservoir, turn right on the road, and take the creek trail back into town. The views are spectacular. We took our time and it took us a little under 3.5 hours round trip - I would guess the loop is around 30 miles or so. Make sure to bring tools, food and plenty of water as there aren't many people out there and it would make for a very long walk if your bike isn't rideable. Overall, this is an excellent, not too technical but long ride with plenty of climbing.
Recommended Route: Kennedy road to end, right on Shannon, right on Hicks - all the way to the Woods Trail entrance.
Other recommended trails in the same area: overgrown (limekiln), everything at soquel demo, saratoga gap
Review Date September 25, 2001
Overall Rating 3 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Visitors rate this review 5.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Ed
, from Los Gatos
Summary: The loop I described is an epic ride all the way across the ridge line. When you look up at the mountain from anywhere in the valley, you can see the big rectangular radar station on top. You'll be very close to it on this ride (you can't actually get to it). It's a fair amount of climbing, but it shouldn't be a big deal for a strong rider. The hardest part is the steep section before the summit, which is HARD. Walk it if you must. The views are worth the effort. At the summit, or actually below it on the other side, is the trail junction for the Kennedy trail. It might seem like a good idea to take Kennedy down, but one look at the climb you have to do from the junction will probably convince you that Limekiln is a better option! Check out other reviews for Kennedy and Overgrown for more options in this area.
Recommended Route: I rode this trail from my home, as part of a long loop I did in a moment of temporary insanity.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Kennedy, Overgrown, St. Joseph, Los Gatos Creek Trail