The Pyzak Ranch and Santa Teresa Park

View along San Iganacio Avenue of the open field next to the Pyzak Ranch property. The historic Pedro Bernal House is behind the field, with the Santa Teresa Park Hills in the background. 


Section of the map of Santa Teresa Park showing the Joice Bernal Ranch, Santa Teresa Springs, the Bear Tree Lot, the Pyzak Ranch property, the empty field at the corner of Curie and San Ignacio, Bernal Intermediate School, the Pedro Bernal House, and the Norred Ranch. The area in white is county parkland. Light green is San Jose city land. The Pyzak Ranch is on county land. The Joice Bernal Rancho from Manila Drive. The ranch house and barn have been restored and will house interpretive historical exhibits. The Ranchsite is also a popular neighborhood access point for trails in the park.

1,688-acre Santa Teresa County Park takes up most of the Santa Teresa Hills from Cottle Road to Bayliss Drive. The most historically significant part of the park, and one of the most historically significant sites in the Bay Area, is the area around the Joice Bernal Ranch and Santa Teresa Springs. This is the Santa Teresa Historical District and is where pioneering settler Jose Joaquin Bernal settled in 1826, establishing 9,647-acre Rancho de Santa Teresa. He named the Rancho and springs after Saint Teresa of Avila, after hearing the Ohlone legend of a black-robed woman who appeared to the Indians at the site of the springs. Bernal attributed the legend to Saint Teresa, patron saint of healing, whose name now appears all over this part of San Jose. The Bernal family and their relatives lived and ranched in this area until the late 20th century. The city of San Jose and suburbs eventually took over much of the rancho lands on the valley floor, but remnants of its ranching history are still preserved in the Joice Bernal Ranch, soon to open as an interpretive center, and in the houses built by the descendents of Joaquin Bernal. One of these houses is the Pedro Bernal House, built by the great-grandson of Joaquin Bernal. The house is across from Bernal Intermediate School and is being used as a ranger's residence. Another is the house still in private hands, built by the Bernals, but is now known as the Pyzak House. The house and the surrounding property are up for sale. The property is a ranch, with facilities for horses. As seen on the map above, this ranch is a finger of private property extending into Santa Teresa Park. The Friends of Santa Teresa Park are hopeful that this will become part of Santa Teresa County Park. Because of its location and history, it would be a valuable addition to the park. It is a logical addition to the historical properties in the Santa Teresa Historical District that are protected by being inside Santa Teresa Park.  The purpose of this page is to familiarize the public with this location and the surrounding parkland. (See here for more on the history of Santa Teresa Park.)


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Below are views from the trails in the hills of Santa Teresa Park. The first two are from the Joice Trail. The next two are  from the Bernal Hill Loop Trail. The last is from Bernal Road. The view from the hills provides a grand perspective of South San Jose. The Santa Teresa Historical District lies at the base of the steep, grass-covered Santa Teresa Hills like a narrow beach, with a sea of suburban development beyond. Several decades ago, this view would have shown orchards of fruit trees, whose blossoms inspired the naming of Blossom Valley. Now, the only sizeable orchard left is on IBM's property. The Santa Teresa Historical District is one of the last remnants of the heritage of what was once called the Valley of the Heart's Delight, now known as the Silicon Valley.

Looking down from the Joice Trail, the house at the base of the hill is the Joice Bernal Ranch house. To the right of it are the two barns. The trail above them at the base of the hills is the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. The IBM Cottle Road plantsite is in the upper left corner. Farther to the east is an oval meadow. Santa Teresa Springs is just to the right of it, hidden by trees. Beyond that to the right is the Bear Tree Lot, the Pyzak Ranch, and the empty field across from the green lawn of Bernal School.  At the upper left corner is the Symbol Technologies campus. From the power line towers on the Bernal Hill Loop Trail, the power lines feeding the IBM plantsite can be seen arching down the hills and travelling over an open space corridor to the plantsites power station. At the lower right corner is the empty field and the Pyzak Ranch.
Looking down from the Bernal Hill Loop Trail near the power towers going to IBM, the buildings and green lawns of Bernal School can be seen. Across from it to the left are the empty field at Curie and San Ignacio. At the bottom of it is the Pedro Bernal House. To the left of the empty field is the Pyzak Ranch. The circle is a horse rink. The largest tree to the left of it is the Bear Tree. Hwy 85 cuts across from left to right near the top. From Bernal Road, as it climbs to reach the Pueblo Area of Santa Teresa Park, the remaining buildings of the Buck Norred Ranchsite can be seen along a narrow valley. Bernal School can be seen just to the right of the hills. The empty field across from it is just barely visible. The buildings of Santa Teresa Commnity Hospital and IBM can be seen on the upper part of the picture.

Here are closer views of the Pyzak Ranch and surrounding parkland:

This is a view across Curie and the Pyzak driveway to the Bear Tree Lot, which is part of Santa Teresa Park and is open to the public. The hills in the background, which are also part of Santa Teresa Park, are above the Joice Bernal Ranch and Santa Teresa Springs.

This is the historical marker at the Bear Tree Lot. It describes the Santa Teresa Historical District and the activities that went on here in the 19th century. The large oak tree in the background was used for bull-and-bear fights in the 1800's. Bull-and-bear fights were a common event during rodeos, which were popular and vital forms of entertainment in those days. The lot also contains an Indian burial ground. The neighbors have reported finding Indian remains and seeing mysterious apparitions in this area.

This is a view of the Bear Tree from the west end of the Bear Tree Lot. The Pyzak Ranch is behind it.

This is a closer view of the massive trunk of the Bear Tree. Actually, this is one of several trees that were used for tying up bears during bull-and-bear fights. 

This is a view looking east down Curie Drive along the Bear Tree Lot's fence towards the Pyzak House. The Pyzak house and property are private.

This open field at the corner of Curie Drive and San Ignacio Avenue, looking towards Bernal Intermediate School is county park property, though it is not currently open for public use. The wooden fence on the right is the boundary of Pyzak's property. 

This is a view looking south down San Ignacio at Curie towards Santa Teresa Park. The open field is in the foreground. The house in the background is the Pedro Bernal House. San Ignacio curves to the left and turns into Heaton Moore. Along Heaton Moore is Brockenhurst Drive and the entrance to the former Buck Norred Ranch, now part of Santa Teresa Park and where a mounted ranger patrol station is in the works.

This is a view looking west down Curie at San Ignacio across the open field to the fence at the east edge of the Pyzak property. Curie Drive narrows down along this stretch, which is just before Bernal School, making commuting to school by bicycle along Curie hazardous for Bernal students. There is also no sidewalk on the south side of the street, requiring pedestrians to cross over to the north side.

The Pedro Bernal House, across San Ignacio from Bernal School, is now County Parks property and is a park ranger's residence. Immediately behind it is the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, which has been designated by the city of San Jose as a potential recreational trail, but is currently closed to the public. Behind that are the hills of Santa Teresa Park.

This is a view of the empty field and the east fence of the Pyzak Ranch from Bernal School.

For more information or to voice your opinion about the purchase of the Pyzak Ranch property by Santa Clara County to turn it into parkland, contact Santa Clara County District 1 Supervisor Donald Gage. For concerns about the surrounding San Jose neighborhood, contact San Jose District 2 City Councilmember Forrest Williams.

Return to the Friends of Santa Teresa Park Home Page

Created 9/11/2001 by Ronald Horii, secretary of the Friends of Santa Teresa Park