What to do on a Sunday afternoon following Dim Sum with the family? The ladies were heading to volleyball tryouts, leaving Ryan and I to fend for ourselves. Somewhat against his wishes, I drove him into the Santa Cruz Mountains to tag a few named summits. El Sereno is the highpoint of El Sereno Open Space Preserve, rising above the wealthy enclave of (you guessed it) El Sereno. We exited SR17 at Lexington Reservoir and drove about 3mi up the steep and windy (and thankfully paved) Montevina Road to its terminus at the boundary of the OSP. We parked, got out the GPS marked with our summit and hiked up the dirt roads that make for trails in the park. We saw no other hikers, but several parties of cyclists. The road got us within 200ft of the summit on its northeast side, and from there we hiked up through the forest understory to the edge of the broad summit where we were stopped by a wall of brush. It was not at all obvious where, or if there was a highpoint to the flat top, so we sufficed with climbing one of the larger manzanita bushes and snapping a random picture before heading back down. No views or anything of any note as far as the summit goes. On a clear day the roads/trails offer fine views to the north (San Jose and the South Bay) and east (Diablo Range in the background, Sierra Azul, Mt. Umunhum, and Lexington Reservoir across SR17), but today was hazy with rather mediocre views.
After driving back down to the reservoir, we took Bear Creek Rd up to SR35 near the summit of Bear Creek Summit. There is no road leading up the last several hundred feet. I parked the car at the major junction southwest of the summit. Ryan was feeling carsick from the ride and declined to join me for the bushwhack up to the top. Good thing too. It was a horrible mess of brush that I spent some fifteen minutes getting within about 70-80ft of the top before turning back. Along the way I came across several pink ribbons seemingly in the middle of nowhere. What they might have flagged at one time has been completely erased, it would seem. It looks like an old road had been bulldozed up towards the summit perhaps decades ago, but it is all but reclaimed by the chaparral and brush covering the slopes. I had to eventually give up the effort. There was too much poison oak to contend with and I was caught out in a short sleeve shirt and no gloves. I'll have to come back better prepared to thrash my way up the rest of the way but I'm already certain that there will be no views, walled in with brush some 12 feet or more in height. This area needs a good burn to clear out this old brush, but with nearby homes encroaching on all sides, I doubt that will happen without a good fight to put it out.
Neither of these summits have anything to offer other than ticking off my list of named summits in Santa Clara County. Unless you like a good thrashing about with a high probability of contacting poison oak. Be warned...
Only later did I realize that the point marked El Sereno is not the highpoint of the area. The California Mountain Altas identifies a nearby higher point as the correct El Sereno, and I tend to agree. I'll have to go back for this other point at a future date.
This page last updated: Sat Oct 31 11:07:33 2020
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