Justin Garland - POST
By ,
Redwoods Program Manager

Bear Creek Redwoods, a POST-protected open space just three miles south of Los Gatos, is now open for you to explore. Get ready for six miles of new trails that wander through a preserve rich in cultural and natural history.

You can find hiking information for this new preserve below, but the history of this place is deep and knowing just a little of its story will heighten your experience when you visit.

 

A Brief History of Bear Creek Redwoods

Bear Creek Redwoods is rich in cultural history. Within the preserve you’ll find Ohlone mortar stones at the newly constructed entrance, stumps of ancient redwoods once harvested for the construction of nearby San Francisco, and the remnants of the Alma College, the first Jesuit school of theology in the American West.

Bear Creek Redwoods - POST
Get up close and personal with a few old-growth redwood trees within this new preserve that have been standing for over 1,000 years. Photo: Fig and Olive, 2019

Protecting this 1,432-acre property was a top priority for POST for much of our early history. With steep canyons thick with redwoods and perennial creeks that feed Lexington Reservoir below, Bear Creek Redwoods offered the potential to create a breathtaking redwood preserve in the heart of the South Bay, just a short drive off Highway 17. But saving this land from development has been a labor of love and a test of our tenacity.

In 1999, in partnership with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen), we protected Bear Creek Redwoods, narrowly saving it from becoming a golf course with luxury estate homes.

Our intention was always to open the preserve for public use, but dilapidated buildings, hazardous old roads, invasive species and a lack of safe parking made that a prohibitively expensive and complex undertaking at that time. Momentum to open this preserve picked up speed in 2014, when voters approved Measure AA—a $300 million bond with funds designated for public access improvements within Midpen’s properties. Over the past four years, they have been hard at work preparing this new preserve for everyone to enjoy.

Now, six miles of trails are open for hikers and equestrians in the western portion of the preserve, progress toward the 20 miles of planned multi-use trails. So, get your hiking boots ready. For first time in its long history, Bear Creek Redwoods will be a place for all to enjoy.

 

Bear Creek Redwoods Hiking Information

Distances: 6 miles of trail with many possible variations.

Difficulty: Moderate terrain (some steep hill climbs)

Season: All year

Access: Dogs and bicycles are prohibited.

Driving Directions: Click here to open map (limited parking is only available within the lot — carpool when possible!)

Accessible Parking: Accessible parking spots are available within the parking area. The surfaces are firm and level.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

More info: Preserve details, maps and more from Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

There are now six miles of hiking trails available for you to explore at Bear Creek Redwoods with a number of route variations to try. All trails are accessed via the newly constructed parking area.

Please note that there is no parking available along Bear Creek Road and the parking lot is likely to fill quickly on weekends and holidays. We strongly suggest you carpool, get dropped off, or arrive as early in the day as possible to find a parking spot. Or, make your trip during the week! The preserve opens a half an hour before sunrise.

The main trailhead (Alma Trail) is found directly across Bear Creek Road from the parking area. Please be careful crossing the street. From here, the trail climbs for a few hundred feet before contouring south toward Webb Creek. About a mile down this trail, you’ll come to a junction with the Redwood Springs Trail. You can create a loop hike by turning right here. However, if you stay on the Alma Trail from this junction, you’ll soon pass the old-growth redwood pictured above—arguably the highlight of this new trail system.

Where the Alma Trail crosses Webb Creek, there is now a beautifully constructed bridge overlooking the creek. The sounds of the water and views into the mixed forest make this a nice place to stop for a break, lunch or quick photo. The water flowing under the bridge eventually flows to fill the Lexington Reservoir adjacent to Highway 17.

If you’re up for it, you can climb the few hundred feet to the Madrone Knoll. The views between the vegetation are well worth the extra effort. But be sure to pack plenty of water as this section of trail can get warm in the summer months.

There is also a beautiful wheelchair-accessible trail around the pond near the parking area. It’s an enjoyable hike for all and worth taking the time to see the Ohlone acorn mortar stones on the north side of the pond.

Looking for more great hikes?

Get a guide to 30 of our favorite trails around the Peninsula and South Bay.

 

Hikes Guide - POST

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About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 77,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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