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Santa Teresa Park

We have ridden at Santa Teresa County Park (Santa Clara County) several times. This is a fun ride that is both relatively short and close to home but offers good views and some rocky technical riding. We usually start at the Harry Road entrance (this is near the end of Almaden Expressway) and follow the Calero Creek trail to the Stile Ranch Trail, which is a rock strewn singletrack that heads up with several switchbacks. After a short downhill, you climb the next hill which was as tall as the first. Taking Mine Trail to the Pueblo picnic area is a good spot for a short break.

Park: Santa Teresa County Park, Santa Clara County
Date: Multiple
Distance: 12 - 19.4 miles
Ride Time: 1:55 - 3:00
Total Ascent: 1660 - 2850 feet
Map: Detailed trail map
Overall Rating: 7

After a short break, it is back to hammering up Hidden Springs and Coyote Peak roads to Coyote Peak, at 1155 ft the high point in the park. There is a good view of the south Santa Clara valley from Coyote Peak (this is especially pretty in winter or spring when everything is green).

An alternative way to the top is to turn left at the junction of Hidden Springs and Coyote Peak onto Coyote Peak and then turn right at the first junction onto Boundary. Be ready to shift down and this trail takes you up the hill pretty quickly. Grades in this section are easily over 20%.

A fast downhill from the summit on another leg of the Coyote Peak trail brings us to Rocky Ridge trail, a technical singletrack trail that is mostly downhill to the Pueblo picnic area again. The top of Rocky Ridge was a fast, swooping course with some rocks embedded in the trail to make it interesting. As one goes down farther, the number and size of the embedded rocks increases and the turns become tighter, making the trail much more difficult. Choosing the proper line is critical to successfully navigating this section. This is one of the best technically difficult trails in the area. I have seen some very skilled riders fly over many of the rocks (literally!), but that is beyond my skills and courage at this point.

At the bottom of Rocky Ridge is a small bridge over an even smaller creek. Take some speed over the bridge and downshift because there is a short but pretty steep hill right in front of you. See if you can make it without dabbing. It is quite doable with a bit of planning and a good amount of determination.

Once at the bottom at the Pueblo picnic area, you can turn around and climb back up Rocky Ridge for another downhill ride or you can climb Bernal Hill to the Vista Loop Trail. This section has a very steep section (few rocks fortunately) that seems to be about a 25% grade. After reaching the top, you have a good view of the Almaden area of San Jose. Traveling a bit further on the remainder of the Bernal Hill loop brings you to a place where it seems as if you are right on top of a nearby neighborhood.

Continuing down Bernal Hill takes you to Joice that takes you all the way to the bottom and the historic Santa Teresa Springs. Riding a short ways back up Joice brings you to the Norred trail junction. This trail traverses the hillside to the old Buck Norred ranch. At the end of Norred, you can settle in for a climb up Mine trail all the way back up to Bernal Hill or you can turn left onto Ohlone. Another option at the bottom of Norred is to ride along the level (very flat) to Bernal Road near the golf course, where you can connect into the Ohlone trail just across the street.

Ohlone Trail is a fun ride. This singletrack along the hillside that will eventually take you past the golf course and out to a county archery range. I would not recommend riding in the archery range, but it is fun to stop and watch them take target practice. If you are up for a challenge, you can backtrack from the archery range to Coyote Peak and keep bearing left to get to Boundary Trail. This is the steep way to get to the top of Coyote Peak for the view. You can also climb up Ridge back to Hidden Spring if you have had enough, but there is still a noticeable amount of climbing involved.

Once after completing Bernal Hill loop, we rode down Mine Road intending to retrace our original path. Somehow we missed the turn and continued downhill to a stream crossing that we had not visited before. Rather than stay on the fire road, we took an unmarked singletrack along the creek. While we expected that this trail would be a bit more gentle since it ran along the creek, we were mistaken. This did eventually bring us back to the low point of the Stile Ranch Trail, but a bit more tired than we had intended to be.

Once you have explored the various trails, it is time to ride down the Stile Ranch Trail that you had to grind up when you entered the park. This trail seems much different going down than going up. The bottom portion of the trail is rocky and steep with many tight switchbacks and gullies. This can be tough on tired legs, so be careful. If you need a safety valve, take Fortini back to the bottom of Stile Ranch. This trail goes around the hills and is nearly flat.

Once you reach the bottom, you can do a very fast return along Calero Creek to return to the car. This is a nice finish, but be careful of hikers and horses on this trail.

If you want to ride some more, Quicksilver is nearby and can be easily ridden to from the Harry Road entrance.

The weather can make a big difference at Santa Teresa. Most of the trails have very little shade, so it can be very hot on a summer day. The only shade we found was a bit on the Vista Loop and along the unnamed single track by the creek. There is water in the Pueblo picnic area, but the rest of the park is pretty isolated. As there is a lot of grass, this park is at its best following winter or spring rains. In the summer there are many places with large cracks in the dirt from lack of rain and high temperatures. One can definitely cook in hotter weather.

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