Sierra Azul

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One-way hike from Sierra Azul to Almaden Quicksilver

It is possible to day hike from the Sierra Azul open space preserve, starting from the Lexington Reservoir (south of San Jose), to the Almaden Quicksilver County Park (Santa Cruz mountains) via Mt Sombroso.

It can be done as two groups, hiking towards each other. One hikes mostly uphill from Lexington Reservoir. The other one hikes mostly downhill from Almaden Quicksilver. It is about 16/17 kms from Lexington Reservoir to the border with Almaden Quicksilver, the Hicks Rd parking lot.

It can also be done as a long loop (34/35 kms) from the Lexington Reservoir back to the Lexington Reservoir.

  • Lexington Reservoir's Priest Rock trailhead to Limekiln trail: 4.5 kms
  • Limekiln trail junction to Kennedy trail junction: 2 kms
  • Kennedy trail junction to Woods trail: 2 kms
  • Woods trail junction to Mt Sombroso: 2 kms
  • Mt Sombroso to Barlow Rd junction: 4 kms
  • Barlow Rd junction to Hicks Rd parking lot: 4.5 kms
On the way back one can take Barlow Rd to check out the area around Mt Umunhum. That trail eventually rejoins the Woods trail.

Grand Total: 19 kms

If one wants to make a loop back to the Lexington Reservoir, one can take the Limekiln trail all the way back, ending at a parking lot not too far from the Priest Rock one.

Other attractions of the park include:

  • Bald Mountain (accessible via an easy trail from Mt Umunhum Rd: park at the gate that stops traffic and cross the street to the trailhead). See directions to Wood Road/Hicks Rd.
  • Mt Umunhum Area (1,062m high) but there is no trail to get to the top (you have to scramble up the hill from Barlow Rd through thick vegetation, and the airforce base at the top, the tower-like structure visible from the Woods trail, is closed to hikers).

Directions to the Lexington Reservoir's trailhead:
From highway 17 take the exit for Lexington Reservoir. Drive north on Alma Bridge Rd to the Priest Rock trailhead.
Directions to the Almaden Quicksilver Park's trailheads:
  • Wood Road/Hicks Rd. From highway 85 take the Camden Avenue exit south. Then Turn right onto Hicks Rd and (after about 10 kms) park at the intersection of Wood Road and Hicks Road.
  • McAbee Rd. From Highway 85 take the Almaden Expressway south. Turn left onto McAbee Road. Park at the intersection with Whisperine Pines.
  • Hacienda. From highway 85 take the Almaden Expressway exit south to Almaden Road till the parking lot.
The first one is at the border with Sierra Azul.