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El Sereno OSP

El Sereno Open Space Preserve is located near Los Gatos and is an easy ride from downtown Los Gatos. This makes parking and an after-ride coffee or beer very easy.

We consider El Sereno a training ride and a wet weather destination. The main trail, Aquinas, is an uphill fire-road climb, but this results in a very fast fire-road descent. There in very little technical here and it can get pretty hot in the summer since much of the ride is in direct sunlight. However, El Sereno drains well, so it can be ridden shortly after a rain when other locations need time to dry out. As a result, we tend to ride here more in the winter when other locations are not available.

Park: El Sereno Open Space Preserve
Date: Multiple Rides
Distance: 12.5 miles
Ride Time: Various
Total Ascent: 2475 feet
Map: Detailed trail map
Overall Rating: 3

We usually park in the public parking lots in downtown Los Gatos. From there, ride up Main Street, right on Massol, left on Pennsylvania, right on Wissahickon and left on Overlook (keep heading up at the various intersections). Continue up Overlook Road and make a left onto Sheldon Road. After a bit more road climbing, you will arrive at the El Sereno OSP gate at the end of Sheldon Road. It is dirt from here to the top. You can continue over the top and follow Bohlman Road into downtown Saratoga, but this is all paved. In the not too distant future (we hope), this may connect to Sanborn County Park.

As an alternative, you can ride Los Gatos Creek or St. Joseph's trails from Main Street. Both of these end at Alma Bridge Road. Turn right and head toward Highway 17. Right at the Alma Bridge junction with Highway 17, there is a trailhead on the left side (look out for traffic turning off of the freeway here). Follow the trail parallel to the highway up to the Bear Creek Road overpass and cross over the freeway. Take the first right and start climbing Montevina Road (paved). This road heads up the hill and ends in a gate to the Montevina trail in the El Sereno OSP. Following this a short way connects to the main Aquinas trail near the top of the mountain.

There are a couple of side trails available. The Serenity trail is the first trail junction as you ascend Aquinas (from the Overlook/Sheldon Road side). This is basically a PG&E service road that eventually leads down to two high tension towers that hold up the wires the span over Highway 17 over to the St. Josephs side. Other than a nice view of Lexington Reservoir, there was not too much interesting on this trail.

A bit farther up the Aquinas trail is a junction to the Loma Vista trail on the right side. This fairly short trail heads down the hill but ends a fence and locked gate that indicates private property. This seems to be a private, closed section of Overlook Road. The bottom end of this dirt road is also fenced and locked.

We have recently discovered a new and apparently soon to be official trail. This as yet unnamed trail starts at the first switchback on Aquinas and heads roughly along the hillside. There is still some overgrown brush and a few other items that can make the going a bit slow. The rangers have just (February 2009) cut the connector from the switchback to an existing trail running south.

For a wet weather training ride, you can consider climbing up the paved Bohlman Road. This is one of the steeper climbs around and the traffic is not too heavy since there is no way through. For a slightly steeper climb, you can also detour from Bohlman onto On Orbit Drive, which rejoins Bohlman a bit farther up the mountain. To increase the pain a bit further, turn left onto Kittridge and then Quickert, which will take you up the hill to On Orbit even faster (this averages a 13.4% grade over a 2 mile stretch). The Montevina Road climb is an alternative road climb. These routes are all paved but quite a good workout due to the steep climbs and sparse traffic.

As a word of warning, illegal pot farms have been found in El Sereno and Sierra Azul OSPs. Don't get too far off of the main trails. If you see unusual signs of activity (not biking or hiking), get out of there. Don't take chances of stumbling on one of these farms as they usually guarded.

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