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El Sereno - February 8, 2009

Distance: 13.4 miles Ascent: 3766 ft. Moving time: 2:19 hours

We had heavy rain on Friday and it was supposed to rain today (Sunday) too, so we tried to get out before it hit. The day started clear and sunny with gray clouds along the ridgeline. Within half an hour, the weather was cool, dark and threatening. We were all feeling marginal with assorted (age related?) excuses. In spite of the negatives, we pushed on anyway.

Starting from our usual spot in downtown Los Gatos, we climbed up Overlook and Sheldon roads to the OSP entrance and headed up Aquinas trail. Everything was normal until we reached the first switchback and noticed that new trail junction at the apex of the switchback. Since this new trail was both singletrack and unexplored, we had to give it a try. MROSD has clearly been working on this connector since we found a 4-wheel ATV ranger vehicle and a small tractor just a short way down the trail. It was clear that they had been cutting some of the brush to make the connection. After getting through the recently cut section, we found ourselves on an older but apparently little used trail. There was still a bit of overgrown brush that kept us moving pretty slowly, but it was still fun. At one point there is a junction with the left path leading down and the right leading up. We went left first, which eventually took us to a clearing with a nice view. Shortly past that point, there was a sign in the middle of the trail about the preserve boundary and private property ahead. We were a bit reluctant to intrude on the property owner, so we head back to the left-right junction to go up the right side.

This side wound through the oak forest. At one point, there was a large green water tank at a gulley with some white plastic irrigation pipe running up the gully and more running along the trail. The pipes were broken in several place, so it was no longer in use. This looked very out of place and amateurishly done, so we thought it might have been a leftover from some marijuana farmers. We had no idea how they could have gotten such a large water tank to that point on the trail. A short ways past this was a small slide that required a portage since it was too sketchy to ride. After passing this, we rode on to the end of the trail. From there, we could see the powerline towers that mark the bottom of Serenity trail, but we could not find a trail that crossed the chasm between us and the bottom of Serenity. We did go down the hill a bit past some eucalyptus trees and into a forest of tiny oak trees, but the trail seemed to peter out. Since we seemed to be at the end, we retraced our steps back to Aquinas.

From there, we continued our climb to the top. This was uneventful, but we did see a ranger truck parked near the top. This was the first time we had seen a ranger truck in El Sereno and it was a brand new one. We put on jackets and dry gloves for the descent and started down, but the ranger truck was gone. We continued down and eventually passed the ranger truck (though we were careful to obey the speed limits while we passed him).

After going through the gate, we headed down Sheldon Road and took a right turn off the road rather than turning left on the paved road. This took us down behind some of the houses on the hillside, past what seemed to be a park, and onto Miranda Drive and the bottom of Overlook just before the stop sign. This was a nice change.

This was a fun ride. It was good to get out and the trails were generally in good shape. We saw quite a few other bike riders (maybe that's why the rangers were there?). Clearly the most fun was finding and exploring the new trail. This trail is so new that is not listed or mention on the MROSD web site yet. Judging by the looks of things, it should not be too much longer.

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