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The Villages

The Villages is a gated retirement community in the foothills east of San Jose near the Silver Creek development. This is a private community that restricts access (hence the gate), so it is not generally available. The upper areas of the community are designated as open space, so we gave it a try.

Park: The Villages
Date: May 4, 2008
Distance: 7.66
Ride Time: 1:46
Total Ascent: 2433
Maps: Detailed official trail map
Overall Rating: 4

There are several trails available. We started by ascending Skyway. This is a fire road that goes up and up and up. Some sections are very steep and we had to hike-a-bike until the grade was manageable. I don't recall a downhill section or even a flat section on the way to the top. There were no trees near the trail, so this could get pretty hot mid-day in the summer.

At the top, you will find a picnic table and "The Mailbox". This is a handy place to keep the sign-in book, so check it out. After a short break to take in the view, we backtracked a few hundred feet to go down the Oak and Meadow trails. These are singletracks that seem to have been recently renovated. This wound around two hills, to bring us to the junction with the Tower trail (this is a service road for the power lines).

At this point, there is a locked gate to the Yerba Buena Ranch. Google Earth shows a ranch road connecting from this gate to a gate into Grant. However, we decided to obey the signs and did not cross the gate. Instead, we backtracked along Meadow and Oak to go to the picnic table. Don decided to try going along the property boundary which was very steep (about a 50% grade!) which was slightly shorter but more hike-a-bike.

We went down a narrow singletrack that starts at "The Mailbox". A sign marks it as the Rawhide Alternate trail, but the map seems to list it as Rawhide. Either way, the trail went down a steep hillside. Fortunately, there were quite a few switchbacks to reduce the grade. Unfortunately, the switchback corners were about 145 degrees and had no curvature at all. This meant that we had to stop, put both feet down and pivot to make the turn. This made it pretty slow going. At the bottom of the switchback section, we merged back onto the main Rawhide trail (fireroad width).

We followed Rawhide down to Turkey, another singletrack that connected us back to Skyway. After a short distance, we turned left onto Cougar and back to Rawhide. We rode this to the bottom and through the stable area to finish the ride.

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