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St. Josephs

St. Josephs OSP is a short, fun ride that is accessed from downtown Los Gatos. It is short enough that most people can make it, but there is enough hill climbing to let them know that they have been out for a good ride.

Park: St. Josephs OSP
Date: Multiple
Distance: 6-9 miles
Ride Time: Various
Total Ascent: 1,000 - 1,800 feet
Map: Detailed trail map
Overall Rating: 6

Start the ride from in front of the Los Gatos Library on Main Street. You can park right across from the Summit bike shop or anywhere else you can find a parking place. Go up College Ave and then turn right on Jones Road. The trailhead is at the end of Jones.

Once through the gate, you start climbing on the Jones Trail. Do not turn to the right as this area is not open to bikes. The trail is not particularly steep, but it goes farther than you might think. This may prove to be a bigger challenge than most first timers are ready for. Continue up the fireroad until you come to the Novitiate Trail junction on the left.

Novitiate goes around a curve and then starts climbing a bit. This area will often frustrate a first time rider. Continue on to the first junction on the right. This is Manzanita trail, a much easier way to the top. Continue on your way up. About half way up, there is a small singletrack on the left known as Serpentine. More skilled riders (or riders who still have some energy) can wind their way through the manzanita trees on Serpentine while novices and those who are too pooped can continue up the Manzanita trail. Both trails rejoin after a short ways, so groups don't need to be concerned about getting separated. Continue climbing Manzanita all the way to the top of the hill. There is a nice view from the top that you should stop and enjoy.

Rather than coming down the way you came up, continue in the same direction on Manzanita as it forms as loop. There is a small singletrack on the right as you get to the bottom of a hill called Lower Brothers Bypass. Take this out to the end and then turn left, putting you back on Novitiate. I have explore the right turn, but this currently stops at a dead end. Follow Notviate back down to Jones Trail, where you will turn left to continue the trail that you rode in on. This will wind along the hillside, ending with a reasonably steep descent to Alma Bridge Road.

From here, you can ride across the dam to catch the Los Gatos Creek trail and return to downtown Los Gatos. You can also connect into Limekiln or Priest Rock trails in Sierra Azul. You could even follow Alma Bridge Road out to Highway 17 and take the connector trail over to Montevina Road to climb up to El Sereno.

Once you return to Los Gatos, it is always nice to stop for a coffee, cold beer, sandwich, pizza, burrito or any combination of the preceding.

WARNING: The Jones trail is closely monitored by rangers with radar guns. It is hard to believe but true. They can be very aggressive about enforcing a 15 mph speed limit and seem to enjoy giving out tickets. I haven't gotten one, but I have heard lots of stories and see them frequently. Definitely watch your speed, especially on crowded weekends. Be careful coming back because the slight downhill and wide road can allow you to pick up speed pretty quickly.

Good places to eat after the ride include Willow Street Pizza or Los Gatos Coffee Roasting, but there are a lot of choices in downtown Los Gatos.

St. Josephs is a good intro ride for fairly athletic beginners. It is also a good ride for knocking off the cobwebs at the start of a season. It can just be a connector to other rides. Or it can be an excuse for pizza and beer with your friends!

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