Three Day Basecamp: Santa Clara County

Jul 23rd, 2020

Overview: Overnight base camping is a great way to accomplish several sections of the Ridge Trail while exploring the surrounding county. This 3 day and 2 night itinerary gives you the best of Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz Mountain region. Most outings are set up as shuttle hikes and require one car parked at the end of each route. 

Circumnavigating? Use the Trail Tracker to check off each section of the Ridge Trail you have completed.

Total Mileage: 28 miles

Camping / Lodging Suggestions:

Day 1: Saratoga Gap to Skyline Ridge Open Space

Route Description: This beautiful hike takes you through moist evergreen forests, woodlands, and high grasslands along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. You experience stunning coastal mountain views on this route through three open-space preserves and one county park. 

Drive Notes: Start with a 30 minute scenic drive up Hwy 9 and Hwy 35 to drop off a car at Skyline Ridge Open Space. Drive back the way you came with your second car and park at the intersection parking lot for Saratoga Gap. 

Start Location: Saratoga Gap trailhead parking

End Location: Skyline Ridge Open Space parking lot

Mileage: 8.1 miles (One Way)

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 858’

Map / info resources: 

Day 2: Hicks Rd. to Lexington Reservoir, Sierra Azul 

Route Description: Get ready for one of the hardest and rewarding sections of Ridge Trail in the South Bay. Pack a big lunch and lots of water on this often hot and exposed route. Start your adventure early to avoid the heat.  This demanding hike rewards you with 360 degree views of the Santa Cruz mountains and valley. 

Drive Notes: A short 10 minute drive from Los Gatos to drop off your car at Priest Rock trailhead and 30 minute drive up the slopes of Mt. Umunhum to the Woods trailhead to start your adventure.

Start Location: Woods trailhead, Hicks and Mt Umunhum Rd.

End Location: Priest Rock trailhead, Lexington Reservoir

Mileage: 11.7 miles (One Way)

Difficulty: Strenuous

Elevation Gain:  2677’

Map / info resources: 

Day 3: John Nicholas Trail, Sanborn County Park

Route Description: This is a popular trail and you will see why with single track going through lush redwoods and creeks while ascending up wooded hillsides with fantastic views. Other highlights include Lake Ranch and large sections of fascinating sandstone boulders.

Drive Notes: If you are camping at Sanborn this trailhead is quick to get to and even possible to hike to. From Los Gatos it’s a 20 minute drive to the end of Sanborn Rd. off Hwy 9. The trail can be done as an out and back or shuttle by parking a car at Sunnyvale Mountain lot. 

Start Location: Lake Ranch Trailhead, Sanborn Rd.

End Location: Sunnyvale Mtn. Trailhead

Mileage: 8.0 miles out and back, 4.0 miles one way Sunnyvale Mtn.

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation Gain: 1550’

Map / info resources: 



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