Parks, Trails, & Open Space

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve Preserve Map

Bay Area Ridge Trail
Ridge Trail Map, Sierra Azul OSP
Ridge Trail Map, Almaden Quicksilver
Ridge Trail Map, Santa Teresa
Ridge Trail Guidebook

Santa Clara County Parks

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association

Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Woods Trail/Wood Road Trail Dedications

Los Gatos Creek Trail

Friends of Santa Teresa Park

Santa Teresa Park

Coyote Creek Trail

Santa Clara County Open Space Authority

Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve

Henry Coe State Park

Bay Area Back Pages
Bay Area Hiking

SF Bay Rec & Travel

Hikes, Nearby Parks & Events

Rancho San Vicente Wildflower Hikes, 4/3/11, 5/15/11

Rancho San Vicente Photography, Wildflower Hike, April 17, 2010

POST Rancho San Vicente Hike, April 10, 2010

POST Rancho San Vicente Hike, June 13, 2009

Blair Ranch Hike 3/28/10

Blair Ranch Hike, 5/9/09

Doan Ranch 11/22/08 Page 1, Page 2

Los Alamitos Creek Trail

Guadalupe River Park and Gardens:

Guadalupe River Trail

Guadalupe Creek Trail

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

Almaden Quicksilver Wildflowers and Views, Spring 2008, Part 2

Healthy Trails Walk, Almaden Quicksilver 3/28/09

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

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

Coyote Ridge, 4/18/10

Outdoor photography hike, Mummy Mountain Trail, 4/23/11

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

Stile Ranch Trail Sunset, 1/29/11

Rainbows, Santa Teresa Park, 1/30/11

Ron Horii's Outdoor Photography Pages:

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photo Gallery

HDR Experiments,
Part 2

HDR Sunset Pictures at Hellyer Park

HDR Pictures at Uvas Canyon

Almaden Quicksilver HDR Pictures

Santa Teresa Pueblo Area HDR Sunset Pictures

HDR Norred Trail Sunset Pictures

Outdoor Photography Class, April 9, 2009

HDR Uvas Canyon Waterfalls

Alviso Marina Sunset Pictures, 11/27/10


California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley

MPROSD: Wildflower Hotspots

Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, Spring 2002

Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, 4/11/08

Almaden Quicksilver Wildflowers and Views, Spring 2008

Almaden Wildflowers

Quicksilver Wildflowers

Bay Area Hiker: Wildflowers

Henry Coe Park Wildflowers

Light of Morn: Nature Walks and Photography

Woods Trail Wildflowers, Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve,
5/14/11 and 5/21/11, by Ronald Horii

The Woods Trail in 17,000-acre Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve (owned by the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District) begins next to the intersection of Hicks Road and Mt. Umunhum Road on Jacques Ridge, at the summit of the road. The trailhead is on the west side of Hicks Road from the staging area for the Wood Road Trail in Almaden Quicksilver County Park. The Woods Trail begins at 1400 feet elevation. It runs for 2.8 miles to Barlow Road, then climbs for 3.7 miles to the ridgeline of the Sierra Azul range to Mt. El Sombroso at 2999 feet, ending at the junction of the Kennedy and Limekiln Trails.

The Woods Trail is not known as a wildflower trail, but it is one of the best. It has a great variety of wildflowers that are close to the trail and are viewable without leaving the trail. The trail is easily accessible and runs mostly flat from Hicks Road to Guadalupe Creek. It follows along an old service road that was used to bring wood from the forests of the Sierra Azul range to the Almaden mercury mines. The road is cut into steep, rocky hillsides. Much of the route is shady. The soil, terrain, and disturbance provided by the road provide an environment that is friendly to wildflowers, but hostile to competing non-native grasses that would normally crowd out the wildflowers.

I hiked the Woods Trail on 5/14/11 and 5/21/11. 5/14/11 was mostly overcast, with the sun coming out late in the afternoon. I followed the Woods Trail up to Barlow Road and went partway up Barlow Road. I used a Canon A720IS compact camera to take pictures on the way up and back. 5/21/11 was clear and sunny all day, but a bit hazy. I took pictures with an Olympus E-510 SLR. I followed the Woods Trail down to Guadalupe Creek. Most of the pictures below were taken on both days and are roughly in geographical order, but not in chronological order. Most of the pictures whose filenames begin with IMG were taken on 5/14 with the compact camera. Those that begin with P521 were taken on 5/21 with the SLR. While lighting conditions on those days were good for wildflowers, they were not too good for landscapes because of overcast and hazy skies and limited visibility. I came back on 5/29, which was a clearer day. I used both my compact and SLR cameras, along with a 40-150 mm zoom lens for my SLR. I walked up to the flat area past Guadalupe Creek in the late afternoon. Those pictures begin with P529 and IMG-1284.

This is the Sierra Azul Trailhead, next to Mt. Umunhum Road. At the trailhead for the Woods Trail is a small parking lot, map board, and pit toilet. This is a small parking lot that fills up quickly. It was full, so I parked at the nearby Wood Road staging area in Almaden Quicksilver County Park, which has a much larger parking lot, and walked over along a short meadow trail with lots of checkerbloom. The Woods Trail was dedicated on Oct. 25, 2003, while the Wood Road Trail in Almaden Quicksilver was dedicated on April 17, 2004. Mt. Umunhum is in the background on the left, topped by the former radar building of the Almaden Air Force Station that once occupied the mountaintop, scanning the skies for enemy aircraft.

Four-spot clarkia near the parking lot.

California poppies are common early in the spring, but these were the only poppies I saw on the trail. They were right behind the mapboard.

View of the Sierra Azul range from near the trailhead.

Johnny jump-up

Ithuriel's spears are a common early spring wildflower. These were still hanging on near the trailhead. There were others on the west side of Guadalupe Creek.

These are rose clover, a non-native introduced from Eurasia as a cover crop.

Tomcat clover, unlike rose clover, is a native California plant.

California wild roses

View of the Los Capitancillos Ridge in Almaden Quicksilver County Park. The cut in the hillside on the right is above the Providencia Pond in Almaden Quicksilver. Downtown San Jose is on the left. Mission Peak is in the center.

A banana slug crosses the trail.

The Woods Trail is a wide, hard-surfaced trail that is populate with equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers.

Fairy lanterns, also called globe lilies

Fernald's iris

Common or showy linanthus

Zigzag or spreading larkspur

Miner's lettuce

Miner's lettuce

Miner's lettuce comes in different shades of green, yellow, and red

Crimson columbine and miner's lettuce

More crimson columbines

Fatleaf false solomon's seal

Indian paintbrush

Indian paintbrush

Miniature lupine (right)

Pacific or hillside pea

Wood mint or hedge nettle

Closeup of hedge nettle

Seedhead of a silverpuff

Closeup of broadleaf lupine flowers

White-pink flowered broadleaf lupines growing next to a moss and fern-covered nook.

Blue-purple flowers of broadleaf lupine

Pink-flowered broadleaf lupine

Redribbons, a type of clarkia

Lots of redribbons

Winecup clarkia

Indian paintbrush on the hill, with Mt. Umunhum in the background.

PG&E power lines arching over the canyon of Guadalupe Creek. The Woods Trail can be seen below the tower on the other side of the canyon.

White blossoms bloom on the cones of a California buckeye tree, with Mt. Umunhum in the background.

Variable checkerspot butterfly on a thistle

Common yarrow


Slender madia


Climbing morning glory

View of Guadalupe Reservoir, with hedge nettle in the foreground

Telephoto view of Guadalupe Reservoir, with Almaden Quicksilver County Park behind it, and downtown San Jose in the upper left. Mission Peak, Mt. Allison, and Monument peak above Fremont and Milpitas are at the top right.

This is a further zoom-in view of Guadalupe Reservoir, with the Guadalupe and Mine Hill Trails behind it in Almaden Quicksilver, Hicks Road to the left of it, and Almaden Lake in the upper right corner.

Zoom-in view of Mineta San Jose International Airport on the left to center, HP Pavilion and part of downtown San Jose on the right.

A mixture of elk's clover and young bigleaf maples

Woodland madia

woodland madia

Lots of woodland madia

White plectritis (white flowers)

Tomcat clover

View of the canyon of Guadalupe Creek, looking towards Almaden Quicksilver County Park on the right.

At this point, before rounding the corner where the trail drops down to Guadalupe Creek, the whole rocky hillside is covered with Pacific stonecrop. (HDR picture)

Pacific stonecrop, moss, and lichens grow on the nearly soilless rocky cliffside

More Pacific stonecrop grow on the bare rocky section of the cliff, while other plants grow higher up where there is soil.

Closeup of
Pacific stonecrop

Closeup of Pacific stonecrop and its yellow flowers.

Golden yarrow

Fernald's irises, Chinese houses. The base of the hillside is covered with Chinese houses.

Closeup of Chinese houses

Down below in the ravine behind this stand of Chinese houses is Guadalupe Creek

Guadalupe Creek here is a mountain stream tumbling over boulders.

The trail is very shady here, with ferns growing on the hillside.

The trail crosses over Guadalupe Creek on a causeway.

The creek flows under the trail through a big pipe. Guadalupe Creek eventually flows into Guadalupe Reservoir.

On the other side of the creek, the trail climbs up the hillside. This is a view looking back across the canyon at the trail near the stonecrops

The trail runs through a stand of eucalyptus trees.

Indian paintbrush are growing on the hill. A group returns from a guided wildflower hike. The group included plant enthusiast Tom Cochrane, who helped me with the wildflower identification on this page.

Phacelia, also called scorpionweed

Looking back at the power lines crossing over the canyon.

Looking back down the trail, the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek are up in the mountain slopes in the background, all part of Sierra Azul OSP.

The trail climbs up to a flat, open area with views east revealing the Los Capitancillos Range and Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

This open flat may have been used as a storage area. It is now covered with coyote brush. A brush rabbit is on the lower left.

Yellow flowers of the invasive non-native broom plant

California honeysuckle

Western heart's-ease

Fatleaf false soloman's seal

Blue witch

Big-berried manzanita

Fremont's star lily

Red thistle


Canyon dudleya growing on a rocky cliffside

Junction of the Woods Trail and Barlow Road (left)

This is a view of the Woods Trail below Mt. Umunhum. The trail wraps around the hill below the mountaintop, then turns to the north to ascend Mt. El Sombroso. I turned around just beyond here and went back to go up Barlow Road. All the pictures below are from Barlow Road.

Stipulate lotus

Pacific starflower

Dannie's skullcap

Red leaves on a coast live oak

Galls on manzanita leaves

California buttercups

California blackberry flowers

Looking down steep Barlow Road, with the Woods Trail climbing Mt. El Sombroso in the background. A ceanothus bush is on the lower left.

Closeup of ceanothus flowers.

Yerba santa flowers


Sticky monkeyflowers

Looking down Barlow Road at about 2000 feet. Barlow Road is a steep trail that climbs up to Mt. Umunhum Road. Sticky monkeyflower bushes are on the right side of the trail.

Looking up at the radar building on the summit of Mt. Umunhum at 3486 feet.  While the Open Space District owns the summit of Mt. Umunhum, it is not yet open to the public. Barlow Road can be taken to Mt. Umunhum Road, but the road ends before it gets to the summit of Mt. Umunhum. Plans and efforts are underway to clean up the summit of Mt. Umunhum and open it up to the public. This was as far as I went on 5/14/11. I returned on the Woods Trail to the Hicks Road trailhead.

The Woods Trail is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. If you continue to follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail route west, take the Woods Trail to the Kennedy Trail, and the Priest Rock Trail. The trail ends at Lexington Reservoir County Park on Alma Bridge Road.
The Los Gatos Creek Trail and St. Joseph's Hill OSP are nearby. The next segment of the Ridge Trail west starts in Sanborn County Park. To follow the Ridge Trail route east, take the Woods Trail to the Wood Road Trail in Almaden Quicksilver County Park. Follow that to the Castillero Trail, Mine Hill Trail, Hacienda Trail, and Virl O. Norton Trail to the Mockingbird Hill Staging Area. Take Mockingbird Hill Lane and McKean Road to the start of the Los Alamitos Creek/Calero Creek Trail, which leads to the Santa Teresa County Park. The Ridge Trail runs along the Stile Ranch, Mine, Pueblo, Hidden Springs, and Coyote Peak Trails in Santa Teresa, ending at Coyote Peak. Farther east, the Ridge Trail route follows the Coyote Creek Trail. See the links on the left side of this page for more trail and wildflower information and pictures.

Created by Ronald Horii, 5/28/11, updated 5/29/11