|That's where I'm heading: El Sereno, as seen from Kennedy|
Feeling full of oats as I set out, I headed for Los Gatos over the hilly Kennedy Road rather than the flatter Blossom Hill Road. I think a lot of bike riders avoid the flatter route because it has lots of traffic and no shoulder, but that doesn't bother me too much.
I don't recall the last time I crossed over Kennedy in this direction. Normally I'm either taking Blossom Hill to save my energy, or leaving the road midway to take the Kennedy Trail. For whatever reason, coming this way I noticed all the gigantic mansions (some, sadly, for sale) that start just after the crest of the hill.
|Switchback on Sheldon|
The trail that starts here is called the Aquinas trail. Even the covered parts were dry and firm, with only one or two spots of standing water and otherwise no mud.
|Switchback on the Aquinas Trail in El Sereno|
|The Aquinas Trail from Montevina,|
with San Jose in the background
|The whole Santa Clara Valley, from El Sereno|
All in all, the trail climbs about 1200 feet in four miles, so it's not steep by any standard. The most challenging part for me is the mile just after the junction with the Serenity Trail, partly because it's slightly steeper and partly because it's late in the ride. The trail doesn't cross the actual peak of the mountain; it meanders around it. The top of the ride is the very definition of nondescript -- there's no crest, no sign, no trail junction, nothing to mark it. The trail up here is largely flat, so it's not even clear where the top might be.
|The start (or end) of Montevina Road|
|One last switchback, on Montevina Road|
|Lexington Reservoir from Montevina|
|Water-level view of Lexington Reservoir|
The trail ends on Alma Bridge Road, where my tires emptied their mud onto my shirt. I followed this road across the dam and onto the Jones Trail. "Buffalo" Jones arrived before the gold rush, and disappeared shortly afterward. In between, he operated Jones' Road, one of the first roads linking Santa Cruz with the Santa Clara valley, possibly as a toll road. He claimed to have built it, but it may have followed an old Spanish mission road. In any case, in this area it was so steep that full wagons couldn't pass -- they had to partly unload at the bottom and make two trips. I was reminded of this as I climbed the preposterously steep opening ramp of the trail. I'm not sure it's the same path, but if it is, you can see why they looked for alternatives. Near the top of the trail you can see the ultimate alternative, the highway, some 300 feet below. It looks almost straight down from there.
After this it was an uneventful trip back over Blossom Hill (this time on a busy Blossom Hill Road around rush hour). About 30 miles in total, and the computer reports 3600 feet of climbing. That may not be too far off, since I did some extra climbing around Kennedy.