The plan was to ride up Stevens Canyon Road, which turns into the Canyon Trail, right up to Page Mill Road. I started much as I had started the Montebello ride, by driving the bike to Saratoga. I was riding my mountain bike, and I thought that eliminating 20 miles of road riding would be helpful; as it turns out, that was probably unnecessary.
I took SR 9 into the mountains, and as in the Montebello ride I went up Pierce's short, steep hill, then climbed up Mt. Eden Road. Temperature makes such a huge difference for me. That previous ride was very hot, and I had to rest on Mt. Eden Road. Yesterday was pleasant, and the little ramps, steep as they might be, were no challenge.
|Looking south from Mt Eden Road.|
|Stevens Canyon Road|
The road climbs, but only very slightly -- less than a 3% grade. Along the way it transitions from two lanes to one and a half, and crosses lots of bridges. Toward the top of the road there are two construction areas with single-lane bridges.
|Stevens Canyon Road,|
with the creek just off to the right
Then, something went wrong. I took a wrong turn. Looking back, I think I remember where it must have been, but of course I can't be sure. There are lots of places where the trail briefly splits for various reasons, and I mistook the fork for one of those diversions. If there was a sign, I obviously didn't see it.
Although I didn't realize it yet, I found myself on the Table Mountain Trail, and the character of the trail changed almost immediately. First, one is obligated to cross the stream again, then climb the hill on the opposite side.
|Crossing the creek near the bottom of the Table Mountain Trail|
|Table Mountain Trail|
Charcoal Road is only about a mile long, but climbs at about 13%. It's steeper than the Kennedy Trail. For me that means lots of little rests at the top of the ramps to keep my heart rate in check, and in this case a longer rest in the middle to eat some lunch.
Toward the top one is rewarded with a view over a huge section of the valley. Looking east you can see past the Montebello Road ridge to Mount Hamilton. Looking south you can see past El Sereno to Mount Umunhum. In between you can make out the sprawl of San Jose.
|Looking east from Charcoal Road. Mount Hamilton is in the|
background. The ridge in the middle distance is the one climbed
by Montebello Road. The Ridge Vineyard is visible on top.
It's time to head back to the car, but since this is Skyline, there's a little more climbing to be done. As I head southeast toward Route 9 the road generally climbs, reaching the high point of this ride at about 2650 feet just before Saratoga Gap. Along the way Skyline offers views toward the south and west, where low clouds covered the coast and the ocean.
|Looking southwest from Skyline|
I suppose I'll have to go back to pick up the Canyon Trail one of these days. As for Table Mountain, I'm happy to have seen it and had a very good time, but I don't know that I'll go there again anytime soon.