Rancho San Vicente Docent Hike 5/30/10

Rancho San Vicente Photo Class/Wildflower Walk 4/17/10

POST Rancho San Vicente Hike, April 10, 2010

POST Rancho San Vicente Hike, June 13, 2009

Peninsula Open Space Trust

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POST: Rancho San Vicente

Flickr: Rancho San Vicente Pictures

Mercury News Article on Rancho San Vicente,

San Jose Business Journal article on Rancho San Vicente

Santa Clara County Parks

Almaden Quicksilver County Park
Park Map

Calero County Park
Park Map

Santa Teresa County Park
Park Map

SCC Open Space Authority

Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve

Canada Del Oro and Calero Trail Map

Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District

Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve

Bay Area Ridge Trail

Ridge Trail Guidebook

Park and Trail Pages:

Blair Ranch Hike 3/28/10

Blair Ranch Hike, 5/9/09

Doan Ranch Page 1, Page 2

Los Alamitos Creek Trail

Guadalupe River Park and Gardens:

Guadalupe River Trail

Guadalupe Creek Trail

Coyote Creek Trail

Bay Area Biking

Bay Trails, South Bay

Bay Area Parks

Friends of Santa Teresa Park

Almaden Quicksilver Park

Bay Area Back Pages

SF Bay Rec & Travel

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, 5/16/09

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, Mayfair Ranch Trail, 3/14/10

Calero Healthy Trails Hike, 4/25/09

Uvas Canyon Healthy Trails Hike, 2/21/09

Coyote Ridge Wildflowers, 4/13/08

Almaden Quicksilver Wildflowers and Views, Spring 2008, Part 2

Healthy Trails Walk, Almaden Quicksilver 3/28/09

Harvey Bear Ranch-Coyote Lake Pictures, 3/10/07, 3/21-21/09, 4/18/09

Palassou Ridge 6/6/09

Mt. Madonna Geocaching Class, 7/11/09

Hellyer HDR Pictures 1/10/10

Almaden Quicksilver Wood Road Geocaching Class 1/16/10

Uvas Canyon HDR Pictures 1/23/10

Joseph D. Grant County Park, 1/31/10

Uvas Canyon Hike, 2/13/10

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, Mayfair Ranch Trail, 3/14/10

Coyote Ridge, 4/18/10

Mummy Mountain Trail Day and Hike, Coyote Lake, 4/24/10

Santa Teresa Park Pictures:

Santa Teresa Park Mine, Fortini, Stile Ranch Wildflowers, 4/11/08

Coyote Peak, Rocky Ridge Wildflowers, Feb-Apr. '08

Bernal Hill wildflowers and views, Feb-Apr. '08 Part 1, Part 2

Coyote Peak, Rocky Ridge, Feb-April '08

Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Stile, 5/4/08

Outdoor Photography Class/Wildflower Walk, Bernal Ranch/Hill 4/4/09

Geocaching Class, Fortini-Mine-Stile Ranch Trail, 4/11/09

Pre-Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Mine-Stile Ranch Trail, 5/3/09

Healthy Trails Hike, Fortini, Mine, Stile Ranch Trails, 5/9/09

Santa Teresa Sunset Pictures 2/7/10

Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Stile, 5/2/10

Ron Horii's Outdoor Photography Pages:

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photo Gallery

HDR Experiments,
Part 2

Rancho San Vicente Outdoor Hikes, April 3, 2011 and May 15, 2011

Rancho San Vicente is a new property acquired by the Santa Clara County Parks Department in 2009. It covers 966 acres and is located in the South Almaden Valley, north of Calero County Park, south of Almaden Quicksilver County Park, and west of Santa Teresa County Park. It will eventually become part of Calero County Park. A large part of its southern border adjoins Calero. It is not yet open to the public on a regular basis. It will take studying, planning, and facilities construction before it is fully open to the public. In the meantime, it is open for guided hikes. There are no official trails in the park, but there are ranch roads, which many of the hikes follow. On April 3, 2011, docent Cait Hutnik led a hike there, accompanied by MPROSD and SCCOSA docent Paul Billig, plant expert Tom Cochrane, and docent/park photographer Ron Horii. As with all hikes at Rancho San Vicente, the group first met at the Calero boat launching area, then carpooled to the entrance of Rancho San Vicente on McKean Road. They parked at the corral area and hiked up the main ranch road. Above, Cait leads the group uphill above the corral.

Near the start is a stock pond. Above it is the Almaden-Calero Canal, which takes water from Almaden Reservoir to Calero Reservoir. Behind it is the antenna-topped hill which is the high point of the Rancho at 1050-feet.

This is a view of the farm pond, looking towards McKean Road and the hills south of Santa Teresa County Park.

This hill is covered with grasses, but is dotted with yellow johnny jump-ups, a California native flower, and pink redstem filaree, also known as storks-bill, an invasive non-native.

Up on the summit of a low rocky hill are brilliant yellow flowers. This is an example of a serpentine out-cropping. Serpentine, the state rock, forms a soil that is poor in nutrients and over-abundant in certain minerals that make it an unfavorable environment for non-native grasses. Native plants, which are adapted to it, can thrive. Over 500 acres of Rancho San Vicente are covered in serpentine rock, which is one reason the park has so many wildflowers, including rare and endangered species. While only 1% of California is covered in serpentine rock, they contain 10% of the state's native plants.

The whole hilltop is covered with these flowers. Also on the hill are poppies, popcornflowers, and California gilia.

A close-up of these yellow flowers, which are Lindley's blazing stars (Mentzelia lindleya). These native annuals are found only in California, mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Inner South Coast Ranges.

More blazing stars are growing among the rocks. They are found on rocky, open slopes, coastal-sage scrub, and oak/pine woodlands. They have been spotted in parts of Almaden Quicksilver County Park near Hicks Road.

We hike up the main ranch road, which crosses over the Almaden-Calero Canal. At times, the canal is full of water, carrying it from Almaden Reservoir to Calero Reservoir. Today, there is just a small amount of water in the canal.

Up on the hill next to the trail is a small pond, full of tadpoles.

Looking back east, the green buildings of IBM's Almaden Research Center can be seen on top of the hill. Below it are the switchbacks of Santa Teresa Park's Stile Ranch Trail, which runs through an easement provided by IBM. This shows how close Rancho San Vicente is to Santa Teresa Park.

Next to the road is a patch of yellow California buttercups.

Looking east, there is a large stock pond at the base of the hills. This has water in it even in the summer and often attracts waterbirds.

Cait points out the wildflowers growing on the serpentine rocks, particularly the dudleya.

These endangered Santa Clara Valley dudleya are growing out of cracks in the rocks. They only grow in serpentine rocks in the south Santa Clara Valley, from around Santa Teresa Park to Mt. Madonna. They have long roots that they send deep into the cracks of the rocks.

In a moist spot near the road are yellow seepspring monkeyflowers and white popcornflowers.

Here is a patch of yellow goldfields on the hill. In the background are the hills of Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

As the ranch road wraps around the hill, more views of the Almaden Valley are revealed. The homes on the left are along Almaden Road. The park property covers the open hillsides up to the residences. At one area, it touches Almaden Road.

Closeup of goldfields on the hill. They are California natives, a member of the daisy family.

In the distance to the west are the hills of Almaden Quicksilver County Park. The red brick Almaden Chimney can be seen on the lower part of Mine Hill to the left. At the bottom of the valley is the small historic community of New Almaden. The park property runs right up to the backyards of many homes in New Almaden.

Cait points out the leaves and a gall on a leather oak tree.

Down below is the Casa Grande, home of the New Almaden Mining Museum in New Almaden. The Almaden Chimney is on the hill at the center left. Mt. Umunhum is on the upper right. Just below it is Mine Hill in Almaden Quicksilver County Park. This shows how close Rancho San Vicente is to Almaden Quicksilver.

We follow a cattle trail below the ranch road and see hillsides covered in goldfields. The grass here has been cropped short by cattle-grazing, allowing the low-growing goldfields to thrive.

This area has a dense carpet of goldfields.

We head down to a canyon and find a small stream.

This is the old ranch road that runs down the canyon along the stream.

There are goldfields next to the ranch road that leads down the canyon.

This hillside is covered with yellow johnny jump-ups, also called the California golden violet or yellow pansy. It's a member of the viola family.

Here are goldfields, purple-white birdseye gilia, and a couple of poppies next to the road.

  One of the hikers is a bird expert, who spots all kinds of birds, including golden eagles.

We soon reach a spot where we can see Calero Reservoir. The cove to the left is Oak Cove. The Los Cerritos Trail runs along the hill above it. The hill on the right is the high point of the Pena Trail in Calero at 1000 feet.

We walk down the hill covered with wildflowers, with views of Calero Reservoir.

Here are birdseye gilia, goldfields, white creamcups, and a poppy.

Below is a rocky outcropping with Calero in the background.

The groups rests on the wildflower-covered hill.

In the foreground are pink owl's clover.

The group enjoys the view, while Cait takes closeup pictures of the wildflowers. In the distance are the hills south of Santa Teresa Park. The homes on the hills are on Country View Drive, which ends at Santa Teresa Park.

Below is the Calero Dam. The Almaden-Calero Canal runs along the base of the hill and drains into the lake near the dam. Rancho San Vicente's boundaries run right down to the canal.

Closeup of purple-white birdseye gilia, pink-purple owl's clover, white popcornflowers, and yellow hill lotus.

We head back towards the main ranch road.

We look back at the canyon with the little creek.

We pass through some manzanita bushes. These are edible berries of the big-berried manzanita. Manzanita means "little apple."

We head up the hill, covered with goldfields.

The hilltop has lots of serpentine outcroppings, covered with orange lichens.

Above is the hilltop. Other hikes have gone to the top, but we bypass it.

These cattle are the reason these hills are covered with wildflowers. They eat the exotic grasses, allowing the native wildflowers to grow. Nitrogen compounds from vehicle exhausts act like a fertilizer, promoting the growth of non-native grasses, even in serpentine soil. Cattle-grazing is an effective means of controlling these grasses. Cattle have been grazing at Rancho San Vicente since the 1800's.

In the background is Almaden Road. Far in the distance, we can see much of the South Bay Area, all the way to San Francisco.

We head back down the hill. McKean Road is in the background. Bernal Hill and Santa Teresa Park are behind it.

We look down the hills towards New Almaden.

We pass by the little pond again. It lies below a cut on hillside, fed by a small spring.

These trees are on the hill above the ranch road.

We reach the corral area at the end of the hike.

We spy a brightly-colored sara orange tip butterfly among the grass and peppergrass.

Back at Calero Reservoir, the peak at Rancho San Vicente is on the right. Someday there will be trails joining Calero to Rancho San Vicente. The master planning process will begin in 2011.

May 15, 2011 Hike

On 5/15/11, the second County Parks Rancho San Vicente hike of 2011 was led by Cait Hutnik, accompanied by docents Sam Drake and Ron Horii. It had rained the night before and scattered showers were predicted. Above, the hills of Rancho San Vicente were bathed in sunlight, while dark clouds were coming over the Sierra Azul mountains.

Despite the weather, a small group showed up. As usual, the group assembled at the Calero Reservoir boat launch area. At the time we started, the sky was part blue, part gray.

 Just before we left Calero, a rainbow appeared over Rancho San Vicente.

We park at the corral, where a herd of cattle is there to greet us.

When we started, the group consisted of families with kids. We had sprinkles and brief showers, mixed with sun.

We stop and look at the small spring-fed pond by the trail. The grasses are still green around the pond, and there are seepspring monkeyflowers.

Despite the recent rain, the trail was in good shape. The hills were drying up, but there were wildflowers out. Here at a seep is a stand of seepspring monkeyflowers.

The entire group went partway up the hill. As it looked like more rain was threatening, Cait took the families back down to the start, while Ron and Sam continued on with 2 hikers.

Under a rock, we see a meadowlark's nest with eggs in it.

Up on the hill, we see 2 yellow tubular flowers, which are from the broomrape plant. It is actually a parasite, which lacks leaves and chlorophyll. It draws nutrients from the roots of other plants.

There are lots of bright yellow golden yarrow on the hill.

We make it farther up the hill, but before we get to the overlook of Calero Reservoir, the rain starts coming down hard, so we head back down the hill.

The rain lets up as we come back down the hill. We can see the Almaden Valley below.

The sun comes out, and we can see the hills of Almaden Quicksilver and New Almaden.

Ahead in the distance are the hills of Santa Teresa Park.


Red-tipped leaves and branches of a manzanita.

Stock pond.

We reach the spot with lots of Santa Clara Valley dudleya growing on the rocks.

Nearby, Sam spots a bird on the rocks.

A poorwill flies up out of the rocks and hops around on the rocks, apparently with a broken wing.

It's all an act. Its wings are fine. It flies over to another rock, trying to attract our attention.

We soon see why. At the base of the dudleya-covered rocks near the trail are tiny chicks. The parent is trying to lure the large predators (us) away from its brood.

As we approach the Almaden-Calero Canal, we pass by brass buttons and seepspring monkeyflowers growing in a wet area at the base of the hill. Just as we are leaving, it starts to rain again.

Created by Ronald Horii, 5/18/11