Thursday, November 25, 2010

Herbert Creek

When I rode from Loma Prieta to Umunhum, I went by a trail that runs from that high ridge right down to Alamitos Road.  I'm pretty sure I once saw that trail from a plane, too.  And it shows up on most maps, but it always ends just shy of Alamitos Road.  Does it really go through?

I looked around for descriptions of the trail, but it's a hard thing to search for.  Along the way, I came across a map that showed that the MROSD had purchased an old house on Herbert Creek.  The map showed a road along the creek, heading toward Alamitos Road.  The purchase happened just a few years ago, so there must be a trail through that area.

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I had never been to the southern end of Alamitos Road, and now I had two things to investigate.  So on this Thanksgiving morning I bundled up (the thermometer read 30 degrees when I left) and headed south.  I rode past Almaden Quicksilver park, past the really-low Almaden Reservoir, and past Hicks.  And at that point, I was in new territory.

Alamitos Road ends in a little community called Twin Creeks, a collection of small cabins of identical design and color, arranged in cozy clusters.  It has the appearance of an old resort, and sure enough that's exactly what it was in the 1920s.  These days the cabins look their age, and by all appearances are permanently occupied.

Very near the entrance of Twin Creeks is where the Loma Prieta trail is supposed to emerge.  There are a pair of private paths that head south off of Alamitos Road, past a set of cabins, and off to picnic or sports areas, I think.  There were no fences in sight.  I'm reasonably sure that one or both of the paths link up with the trail.  But to verify that, I'd have to poke around too close to people's houses, and I wasn't going to do that.  I wouldn't mind riding past if I was coming down the trail, but nosing around would be creepy.

Nonetheless, one question more-or-less answered.  I'm sure one could ride down the Loma Prieta trail and get to Alamitos Road.

Continuing on Alamitos Road, now heading west, I passed more cabins as the road narrowed from a skinny two lanes to an unapologetic single lane.  Twin Creeks is generally wooded, and by the time the road narrows and starts to climb the valley a bit, it's fully enclosed in woods.  The road turns southwest to follow Herbert Creek, and is paved until shortly after it passes over a bridge.

The woods here are gorgeous, with the lovely little stream and bright green moss growing on the trees.  On all sides of the trees, I might add.  It was perfectly quiet.  The morning was still cold and there was certainly no sun to warm me up, but since I was climbing and didn't have to worry about wind, it was comfortable.

I came to a fork in the road, and chose the left fork, the low road.  It was the wrong fork.  This trail gradually turns south to follow some other creek.  I went along this path for a while as it climbed the valley, until I came across a building in the distance.  I didn't see anyone, but chickened out and turned around.

Had I followed the high road, I would have hugged Herbert Creek, and been mostly on MROSD land.  I realized that as I passed by, but I needed to get back home for Thanksgiving, so exploring that path will have to wait for another day.

The ride home was unremarkable except for the especially vivid shifts in environment.  From a lush, wet forest to dry chaparral to suburban artifice, all within a few miles.

Only about 20 miles today, with a maximum elevation of about 990 feet, at the turn-around point.  Only a couple of the miles were at all new to me, but they pointed the way to a few new possibilities.


  1. Hello thanks so much for the insightful post. I'm thinking about doing a backpacking trip where I'd have to hike up herbert creek. I have been all the way up to the fork in the rd where the gate is, in a car. It's a beautiful but scary area. I was wondering where... "I came across a map that showed that the MROSD had purchased an old house on Herbert Creek. The map showed a road along the creek, heading toward Alamitos Road."..... this map is. Also I was wondering if you had any information on the Twin Creeks estates community or the people who live out in that area, how they react to tresspaasers?

  2. I also read this post "Over Loma Prieta and Umunhum, August 2010" and was wondering how sketchy it would be to walk Mt. Umunuhm- Loma Prieta Rd with backpacks. I want to hike up Herbert Creek and then reach the summit, and then find my way to Cathermola rd and eventually Summit rd. Is that rd in between the two mtns legal to be on? And were you able to bike from up top down back to Alamitos rd or did you go down another way?

  3. As someone who lives in Twin Creeks, I'd have to say people would be quite surprised to see anyone hiking through. It's a friendly neighborhood, but we just never see anyone on foot.

  4. MROSD has purchased Twin Creeks and is planning to demolish it this year. The bridge to the ridge road was completely fenced off, which wasn't as much of a deterrent as the fact that there are a handful of residences near the base, and they have the key to get through the gate.

    There doesn't appear to be any other easy way to connect to that ridgeline road, and I'm guessing that it's awfully steep based on the topo lines.