The Norred Ranch Site and Nearby Areas



The following are pictures from the areas around the former Buck Norred Ranch Site and other parts of the Santa Teresa Historical Area. Note: these pictures were taken over a period of years. These illustrate conditions in the area, but do not necessarily imply that these areas are all open to the public. Public access is technically not allowed on the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, the Bear Tree Lot, the Pyzak Ranch, the Pedro Bernal/Bonetti House, and the buildings around the Mounted Ranger Unit. Only marked trails and developed areas, such as Santa Teresa Spring and the Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch, are open to public access.

Contents

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Maps

Note, these maps were derived from the current official park map, which is somewhat out of date and has some errors in the park boundary lines.

This map shows the Mine Trail, highlighted in purple, and the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, highlighted in orange. Note that the Mine Trail begins at the Norred Ranch,, now the Mounted Ranger Unit. The only access to it is the Coyote-Alamitos Canal levee and the ranch road that leads out to Brockenhurst Drive. Brockenhurst Drive is now an official park entrance and can be used to access the trailhead. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal is not a trail. The other official access to the lower Mine Trail is from the Hidden Springs Trail crossing, which is halfway up Bernal Road. The new Norred Trail will provide another way to access it.

This is a detail showing the Buck Norred Ranchsite, now the home of the Mounted Ranger Unit. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal is shown in orrange, but the private section to the west of the Norred Ranch is shown in red. The blue line shows that private property extends above the canal and over part of the old road leading up the hill. The green line shows a hypothetical trail route that would start at Heaton Moor in or near the Bonetti Ranch site, cross over the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, follow along the hillside around the back of the Mounted Ranger Unit, and intersect the Mine Trail higher up the hill. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal levee could be used to reach this trail junction from Santa Teresa Spring to the west. A connector trail could be built along an existing volunteer trail to reach the Coyote-Alamitos Canal levee to the east, which runs to lower Bernal Road near the park entrance. This would avoid the part of the canal that runs close to houses on Heaton Moor. Note that this route is only a conceptual recommendation. The actual route will be determined by the County Parks Department. (Note: the trail has been built. See the new Norred Trail.)

Buck Norred Ranch Before the Mounted Ranger Unit

These are pictures of the buildings at the Buck Norred Ranch before the area was turned into the Mounted Ranger Unit. Vandalism, graffiti and illegal entry of the buildings were common. Since the Mounted Rangers have moved in, this kind of activity has stopped.

This is the rear of the ranch house at the Buck Norred Ranch site (7/10/01). The house was covered with graffiti. The plywood that covered the windows was torn down in places. The inside of the house was heavily vandalized.

This small "honeymoon cottage" is next to the ranch house. It was also covered with graffiti (7/10/01). 

This is the back of another small building by the ranch house. It was also tagged. (7/10/01) 
 

The Coyote-Alamitos Canal by Santa Teresa Spring

The paved path below Santa Teresa Spring ends abruptly. An informal dirt path leads up to the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. There are no signs or fences at the start of the canal, which ends in a siphon before Santa Teresa Spring.

This is the Coyote-Alamitos Canal to the east of Santa Teresa Spring. A fence blocks access to the further passage along the canal. Below the fence is the back of the Bear Tree Lot. A little farther along is the Pyzak Ranch.

The left side of the gate has a well-worn path, which people have used to get around it. At this point, the canal belongs to the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The land above and below it belong to Santa Teresa Park. The canal continues behind the Bear Tree Lot, Pyzak Ranch, and Bonetti House, then turns at San Ignacio and Heaton Moor. It then runs behind houses on Heaton Moor, where it becomes private property. (Note: since this picture was taken, the gate has fallen down.)
 

The Bear Tree Lot, Pyzak Ranch Area

This is Curie Drive eastbound just before the Bear Tree lot. Curie is a wide street with sidewalk and room for bicycles on both sides, though there are no bike lanes.

This is the dirt shoulder along Curie Drive at the edge of the Bear Tree Lot. The sidewalk on the south side ends here. At the end of the Bear Tree Lot is the driveway to the Pyzak Ranch. Behind that is a wooden fence. The Pyzak house is now being used as a park employee residence. The Pyzak Ranch house was originally Jacoba Bernal's House, built by Pedro Bernal, later occupied by the Fishers, the Browns, then Pyzak.

This is the monument at the Bear Tree Lot explaining its history. The monument was placed there by the Clampers. The Bear Tree Lot is now closed to public access. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal runs along the lower hillside in back of the lot. There is now no parking allowed in front of the monument. There was a problem with homeless people camping out here in their cars overnight.

This is Curie Drive at the start of the Pyzak Ranch's wooden fence. The road is considerably narrower. Here, cars can park on the side of the road, and neighbors can leave yard clippings in the road, further narrowing it.

Ahead is the corner of Curie and San Ignacio. There is no parking along the north side of the road, though sometimes the neighbors leave yard and tree clippings in the street for recycling. There is an old barbed wire fence along the field here, which was once a paddock. The fence at the Bernal School field is just ahead across San Ignacio. The narrowing of the street, the heavy traffic along the road, and the barbed wire fence present hazards to bicyclists travelling to Bernal School or between different parts of Santa Teresa Park. It is unsafe for pedestrians to be on this side, but for pedestrians travelling along the south side of Curie near the Bear Tree lot, they must dart across the road, which has no nearby crosswalks, to reach the sidewalk on the north side.
 

San Ignacio to Heaton Moor Drive

This is the field at Curie and San Ignacio. This was part of the old Bonetti Ranch. In the back of the field is the house originally built by Pedro Bernal and later occupied by the Bonetti Family. It is now a park employee residence. To the left, across San Ignacio, is Bernal Intermediate School. The plans for this field call for it to be used for parking. It can be used as a staging area to access a new trail leading to the Mine Trail. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal runs along the hill behind the house.

San Ignacio turns left and becomes Heaton Moor Drive. Along the road is a field below the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, which runs along the base of the hills. This is a possible entry/exit point for a new trail along the Coyote-Alamitos Canal before it turns into private property.

This is the beginning of private property along Heaton Moor. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal, which is private, runs in the hills above it. 

These are the house on Norred Court. A bypass trail could run along or over the hill behind these houses. Higher up on Bernal Hill, near the PG&E power towers, is the Bernal Hill Loop Trail.

This is the entrance to the Mounted Ranger Unit at Brockenhurst Drive off Heaton Moor. This was not an official park entrance. People did use it as an entrance until some neighbors complained, and it was closed. The signs behind the gate said "Area Closed, No Entry, Service Vehicles Only." There are homes to the left and right of the entrance. In September 2006, after petitions were circulated requesting it to be opened to the public, this became an official entrance. It's a neighborhood entrance, not a major staging area. Vehicles are not allowed to enter.
 

Buck Norred Ranch Site/Mounted Ranger Unit

Many people in the area remember renting horses at the Buck Norred Ranch and riding them through the hills. There were also group parties and picnics held there. Buck Norred sold his ranch in the 1990's. Part of it along Heaton Moor was developed into housing. The rest was acquired by the county, but was left undeveloped for years. After hearing complaints about vandalism and illegal activities at the ranchsite, the County installed the Mounted Ranger Unit, which is now its official name. The facility began operation in 2002. While the rangers are stationed at Santa Teresa, they patrol all the county parks with their horses. Along with the rangers, who work there during the day, there is a camp host livng at the site in a trailer, providing 24-hour coverage for the area. 

This is the service road leading up the hill to the west side of the Mounted Ranger Unit. This road leads to a pavilion and an old barn. Just ahead is the gate blocking access to the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. Part of this road and the Coyote-Alamitos Canal are private property, belonging to the adjacent residents. (Note these pictures were taken before the area was signed as being closed. It is now fenced off, and the road up the hill has been torn up.)

This is a view looking down from the access road. The gated Coyote-Alamitos Canal is below. Below that are the houses whose owners also own the canal and some of the land above it.

This is a view farther up the access road looking west along the hills and down the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. Another gate can be seen along the canal, along with the houses below it.

This is the small seasonal creek that runs behind the ranch house.

This is the old Buck Norred Ranch House. Prior to Buck Norred, the house was owned by Herschel Johnson, then the Andersen family. The house is boarded up and has suffered from vandalism and trespassing in the years between its sale by Buck Norred and the opening of the Mounted Ranger Unit in 2002. Volunteers have painted out much of the graffiti. The ultimate fate of the house is still uncertain.

On 9/27/03, the Friends of Santa Teresa Park helped with the open house at the Mounted Ranger Unit. Here Mike Boulland is addressing neighbors, park officials, and rangers. 

The rangers gave a tour of the barn facilities during the open house. The visitors were allowed to tour the facilities, which are normally not open to the public.

Here are some of the buildings of the Mounted Ranger Unit. The main stables are ahead. Behind it is the old barn, which has not been restored.

This is the honeymoon cottage. Compare this to the picture above from 2001.

In the back of the facility is a training rink and fields. The facilities extend back into the valley. The remnants of an old Buck Norred Ranch riding trail can be seen on the hillside to the left.

Hikers can be seen on the Mine Trail going up the hill behind one of the buildings of the Mounted Ranger Unit. The RV belongs to the camp host who lives at the site and whose presence is one of the reasons that vandalism has ceased in this area.

An old trail runs below the Mine Trail and along the east edge of the Mounted Ranger Unit. 
 

The Mine Trail

This is the start of the Mine Trail at the Mounted Ranger Unit. The large interpretive sign warns of mountain lions. To the left is a path leading up to the Coyote-Alamitos Canal levee road above a siphon. The canal levee is not an official trail. The Mine Trail here is an old asphalt ranch road that climbs steeply up the hill into the park.

The Mine Trail is the main trail artery for Santa Teresa Park. It is one of the longest, most popular, and most important trails in the park. It is a wide multi-use trail that is popular with bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians. Trail users can take it to access most of the park's trails. It eventually ends up at the Pueblo Day Use Area in the heart of the park. For part of its length, the Mine Trail is a segment in the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It is also part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail system

From the Mounted Ranger Unit, the Mine Trail goes uphill to a junction with the Hidden Springs Trail, which runs up to a trailhead at Bernal Road. It continues uphill through oak forests and intersects the end of the Bernal Hill Loop Trail. It crosses Bernal Road, where the Pueblo Trail branches off to the left. Nearby is a tiny free parking lot near the entrance to the IBM Almaden Research Center. The Mine Hill Trail then goes downhill along Trench Hill and meets the end of the Stile Ranch Trail, at which point it becomes part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It goes uphill, then downhill to join up with the start of the Fortini Trail. It turns back towards the center of the park, crosses a marsh by an old corral, at which point the Rocky Ridge Trail branches off to the right. It then hits the parking lot and corral at the end of the Pueblo Area, continuing on behind it until it ends at the Hidden Springs Trail, which leads up to Coyote Peak. Parking at the Pueblo Area requires a fee, which is why many people prefer to access the trail from Brockenhurst or from Bernal Road.

This is a view from the Mine Trail looking down towards its trailhead at the Mounted Ranger Unit. To the left is a recently-built corral for horses. 

This is where the Hidden Springs Trail crosses Bernal Road. Trail users can up Bernal Road from the park entrance to reach this point. The Hidden Springs Trail drops down a short distance and joins the Mine Trail.

This is a view from an oak grove on the Mine Trail. Bernal Road cuts across the hill in the background. The Mine Trail is a shadier alternative to Bernal Road.

This is the junction of the Bernal Hill Loop Trail and the Mine Trail. 

At the top of Trench Hill by the small parking lot, the Mine Hill trail crosses Bernal Road and continues on the other side. The Mine Trail drops down and meets the Stile Ranch Trail at the bottom of the valley ahead, at which point it becomes part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

The Mine Trail drops down to meet the Fortini Trail, which runs to the right. Ahead in the distance is Big Oak Valley and the Rocky Ridge Trail. The Mine Trail heads to the left and goes into the Pueblo Area.
 

Coyote-Alamitos Canal to Bernal Road

Just to the left of the Mine Trail entrance is the gated access road to the Coyote-Alamitos Canal levee. While this is not an official trail and belongs to the Water District, this is frequently-used as a trail. The park map specifically says this is not a trail. Technically, those using it are trespassing on Water District property, though they are seldom cited. A short section of the canal levee is directly behind some homes. After that, it runs above a long greenbelt, which is part of Santa Teresa Park. (Note: a larger fence is now in place blocking access to the canal.)

This is the end of the Coyote-Alamitos Canal on Bernal Road. For a long time, there were no fences or "no trespassing" signs to prevent entry. The only signs on the canal said "no vehicles." Now, a fence and gate, posted with "no trespassing" signs blocks the entrance. Along the way are unofficial footpaths leading up to it. Another unofficial trail leads up from the canal levee and joins with the Mine Trail partway up the hill. On the opposite side of Bernal Road, a short stretch of the canal levee leads to access to the Ohlone Trail and the Laurel Canyon Nature Trail. The canal goes into the Santa Teresa Golf Course, but a fence blocks further travel for trail users outside the golf course. The canal runs through the golf course, then emerges at the other end by the archery range, where it runs behind range targets.

This is a field at the entrance to the park on Bernal Road. It is a flat area that could be used for a parking lot and staging area to reduce parking by park users in front of the houses along Heaton Moor and Bernal Road.
 

Fence Above the Coyote-Alamitos Canal

On June 1, 2004, Deputy Park Director Joe Schultz visited the Mounted Ranger Unit with fence contractors and representatives of the Santa Clara Water District to discuss putting a fence around the areas of the Coyote-Alamitos Canal which are private property.

Here Joe Schultz is conferring with fence contractors, while Dale Honda from the Water District is talking with one of the homeowners. Below them will be a new gate along the private property boundary, which will still allow the Water District to access the canal levee.

This is a view from the old paved ranch road at the west end of the Norred Ranch. The wooden stakes with the red flags are survey markers that mark the limits of private property. This part of the road is also private. A round wire fence will enclose the private property and follow the boundary up to the clump of poison oak ahead. The old road will be removed and the ground will be disked. This road is no longer needed. There is a service road coming up from the back side to reach the buildings at the top of the hill.

Along the canal above the houses, one of the homeowners has posted "Private Property" signs.

At the west end of the group of houses along Heaton Moor, the Water District recently erected a new gate on the canal. A new fence will go up the hill on the other side of the canal to show the private property boundary. The homeowner in the picture also owns the land from the gate down to Heaton Moor. This patch of land will be fenced off with a new gate.
 

Trail Routes Around the Mounted Ranger Unit

These pictures below show the trails and areas around the Mounted Ranger Unit, as well as areas of concern. (Note, these pictures are large.)

This is a view of the Buck Norred Ranch Site from the Bernal Hill Loop Trail. The Mine Trail is shown in orange. The blue dots show the lower trailhead at the Mounted Ranger Unit and Hidden Springs Trail junction. The Hidden Springs Trail is in blue. Bernal Road is in red. Until the Brockenhurst entrance was re-opened the only legal way to reach the lower Mine Hill Trail was to go up Bernal Road to the Hidden Springs Trail junction.

This is a closeup of the Mine Trail and the Mounted Ranger Unit below it. The Mine Trail is shown in yellow. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal (not a trail) is shown in red. An old Buck Norred Ranch trail is shown in orange, which could be used as a trail to skirt around the Mounted Ranger Unit.

This shows the areas of concern. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal, which disappears under the Buck Norred Ranch Site in a siphon, is shown in red. Homes along Heaton Moor Drive run along the edge of the ranch site. The only entrance to the site is at Brockenhurst Drive. An old service road can be seen in the lower part of the picture running to the old pavilion and barn.

The New Norred Trail

(Updated 1/25/07)
After many meetings, public disclosures, plans, studies, and reviews, in September 2006, the County Board of Supervisors approved the new trail between the Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch and the Mounted Ranger Unit. In November, trail construction began. The Sweco bulldozer cut the trail in only a few days. It was covered with straw and closed for the winter to allow it to settle in. It will re-open in June 2007. People who use the trail while it's closed may be cited.

The trail begins off the Joice Trail, partway up the hill and above the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. It runs along the hillside with little change in altitude until it reaches the Buck Norred Ranch site. Then it drops down to the level of the Mounted Ranger Unit, running behind it at the end of the valley. It follows along the hills a little above the Mounted Ranger Unit, then joins up with the Mine Trail at about the same level as the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. The Coyote-Alamitos Canal is not an official trail and is fenced off.

The new trail was going to be called the "Los Alamitos Trail." However, after reading the park's master plan, it was found that this trail was referred to as the "West Norred Trail." Since there is no "East Norred Trail," it was decided to name this just the "Norred Trail."

The Brockenhurst Drive entrance is now officially a neighborhood entrance to the park. The signs have been changed to list the park hours. The gate will be changed to an electric gate with a self-closing hiker's gate on the side. The Mounted Ranger Unit is still off-limits, but visitors can take the access road to the head of the Mine Trail.

Here are some pictures of the new trail:

Looking down from the Joice Trail, the entrance to the Norred Trail on the right.

This is the start of the trail on the day it was being constructed, 11/2/06.

You can see the Sweco bulldozer cutting the trail on the hill above Santa Teresa Spring.

Here's a closer view of the Sweco on the hillside.

The trail was covered with straw and closed to the public shortly after it was opened. (Taken 12/8/06.)

This is a closeup of the trail signs announcing that the trail is closed.

The trail cuts across the hillside above Santa Teresa Spring.

View of the trail on the hillside above Heaton Moor.

View of the trail above the houses around Norred Court. You can see the construction crew on the trail (11/6/06).

View of the hills west of the Mounted Ranger Unit. The trail descends here following old ranch roads.

The trail skirts around the rear of the Mounted Ranger Unit and runs along the base of the hillside, parallel to the service road. (This picture and 2 below taken from the horse paddocks by the Mine Trail.)

You can see the new trail running along the base of the hill, just above the service road.

The trail runs above and behind the Mounted Ranger Unit facilities. The building in the foreground is used as an office by the rangers.

The trail turns a corner as it is about to join the Mine Trail.

This is the trailhead just off the Mine Trail. The entrance is closed until June. (Taken 12/7/06.)

This is looking up the Mine Trail from the trailhead. To the left, the fence blocks access to the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. The Norred Trail entrance is on the right, across from where the fence ends.

This is at the Brockenhurst Drive entrance to the Mounted Ranger Unit. The trail above the houses can be seen on the hillside in the background.

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Created 5/14/2004, updated 11/6/07 by Ronald Horii, secretary of the Friends of Santa Teresa Park