Eagle Rock
Haskins BM

Tue, Dec 31, 2013
Etymology
Eagle Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
Eagle Rock later climbed Fri, Jan 13, 2017

On the last day of 2013, I decided to pay another visit to Alum Rock Park, one of the local San Jose parks abutting the Diablo Range on the east side of the city. I had been there two weeks earlier for another peak, but today I visited the higher and harder to reach Haskins BM. A relatively recent acquisition by the Open Space Authority of Santa Clara Valley, the Sierra Vista OSP encompasses more than 1,600 acres of land above and partially surrounding Alum Rock Park. Haskins BM is found just outside the OSP, and getting to it involves more than five miles of trails through Sierra Vista. As the trail is dual use, I decided to ride my mountain bike to the park and ride it as far as I could on the trail system. My first stop after crossing San Jose was at Eagle Rock, an overlook inside Alum Rock Park. Around the flat, open view spot is Eagle Rock itself (a smallish outcrop of rock on the southeast side), a small telecom tower, and the remains of what used to be the entrance to the Eagle Rock Ranch. Half a dozen teenagers were crowded about the top of Eagle Rock, an easy class 2-3 scramble. Fog had lingered over the valley for much of the morning and did not completely burn off during the day, rendering photos of the urban areas mostly washed out.

A few minutes from Eagle Rock I found myself at the entrance to the Sierra Vista OSP. Although the OSP borders Sierra Rd above and is bisected by Alum Rock Falls Rd, neither of these paved roads can currently be used for access. Consequently, to reach Vista Point near Haskins BM, it is necessary to take this much longer route with extra elevation gain/loss in order to reach it. Though the trails throughout the park and OSP are popular with the many visitors, this long route to the overlook sees much less traffic. A sign at a cattle gate marking the start of the Sierra Vista Trail seems to discourage the journey, warning it's 9.4 miles roundtrip. The Siera Vista Trail contours along the top of the OSP, comprising some old ranch roads and some newer single track portions that were recently completed. The slope is quite steep and a cyclists going over the edge would most likely end up with serious injuries. I'm actually a little surprised they allow bikes on this trail, but I suppose that may change when the first serious accident occurs.

After a long contour, the trail drops down towards Alum Rock Falls Rd where an old barn and homestead are located. Both are currently closed, either awaiting demolition or perhaps funds to make them safer parts of the park experience. The route to Vista Point includes a half mile stretch along paved Alum Rock Falls Rd which originates from the east end of Alum Rock Park. Public access to the road is prohibited from the park, likely a concession to the landowners sprinkled among the hills higher up the road. This short stretch is the only portion one can publicly use and signs have been erected to make this abundantly clear. Ten minutes after turning off the pavement and onto the Calaveras Fault Trail leading to Vista Point, the road grew steep and I decided to park my bike and walk the remaining mile and a half. A picnic bench and a couple of posts for tying off horses are found at flat-topped Vista Point. Normally there would be good views to San Jose and the surrounding communities and on a clear day I would expect one could see as far as San Francisco and Mt. Tamalpais to the northwest. About 3/4 mile to the southeast is the higher Haskins BM to which I next turned my attention.

Signs past Vista Point indicate that the area is private property, though the maps clearly show this as part of the open space preserve. This may be a strategy to discourage cross-country travel until roads can be established. Between Vista Point and Haskins BM is a small, shallow valley in which one can find an old paved runway. "X"s at each end indicate it is no longer in service, but it looked to be in fairly working condition and could be used in an emergency. A plane hanger at the north end was empty with it's main door open. A few cattle grazed about the side of the runway as I approached it, moving off as I neared. Three hundred feet up from the runway to the east is Haskins BM, and after a short, steep climb up its grassy slopes, I was at the summit. I didn't actually find the benchmark, though I did find one of the reference marks embedded in a rock under a group of large oaks growing nearby. I think the benchmark has gone missing, though it's possible it's buried under the grass or dirt somewhere. In addition to the views of the South Bay to the west, one can see Mt. Hamilton to the southeast (not visible from Vista Point because it is blocked by Haskins), Poverty Ridge to the northeast with Black Mtn and Mt. Day behind it.

My return route was almost identical to the ascent route. I had considered taking the (illegal) shortcut down Alum Rock Falls Rd, saving a few miles and 1,000ft of extra gain, but decided I could probably use the extra workout - too much food and holiday treats over the past few weeks and I need to work them off...


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