The Most Famous Trail in Los Gatos

The Most Famous Trail in Los Gatos

Thanks for the opportunity to speak again.  I’d like to present another trail topic to encourage trail advocacy and improved user experience.  The board has provided a forum to discuss these topics with staff.

Tonight my topic is “The most famous trail in Los Gatos, and why we’d like it not to be.”  The trail I’m referring to is the upper part of Priest Rock Trail, above Lexington Reservoir.  This is one of the steepest trails in our area.  It’s extremely difficult to climb on foot, bike or horseback.  Descending is a thrill or a terror depending on your perspective.  Possibly both.  The colloquial name for this trail is “Dogmeat.”

For more than ten years, local mountain bikers have organized a challenge to climb Dogmeat without putting a foot down.  There’s even a short segment about this challenge in the “Stories of Mount Umunhum” video on Midpen’s website.  I’ve shown the youtube link at bottom right.  The picture shows several riders on one of the toughest sections, struggling to remain upright while inching up grades as steep as 30%.  The upper portion of the trail averages 19% grade for over half a mile.  Many segments have a loose, rocky, and rutted surface. 

We use these trails because they’re the ones we have close to home, but more and more, as you heard from a public comment in a recent board meeting, people are driving to access better trails.  Hundreds of people drive by Sierra Azul every day, heading to good trails at Sanborn, Calero and Santa Teresa County Parks, Rancho Canada del Oro, Wilder Ranch, Forest of Nisene Marks, Glenwood Preserve, and many others.  They go there because the trails are built for them, not for PG&E or Calfire. 

Midpen has several projects ahead for Sierra Azul, but based on discussions with staff and what I see in the Bear Creek, La Honda Creek and El Sereno plans, I’m not confident they’ll result in a trail system that’s merited by this beautiful space and the money taxpayers have provided through Measure AA.  Discussion of regional trails such as the Bay Area Ridge trail or connection to the Forest of Nisene Marks seem to focus on low quality trails on existing fire roads.  The ideas for Rancho de Guadalupe, Cathedral Oaks, and Loma Prieta seem to be discussed as disconnected projects rather than contributing to a master plan for a great trail system in Sierra Azul. 

Obviously this can’t all be built at once, but in my opinion, it’s important to have a vision for Sierra Azul and the surrounding open spaces that will lead to a great trail system.  Each project will make a contribution.  When those projects involve regional trails like the Ridge Trail, it’s important to consider the quality of the trail, not just the connectivity.  Just adding roads as part of these regional trails will not draw people to the preserve, and it won’t improve anyone’s experience. 

Thanks, I’ll present another Trail Topic soon.

These comments were provided to the Midpen Board of Directors during the public comment portion of their October 27, 2021 meeting.