Fri, Jan 5, 2007
This outing originated as a request by Steve for a "birthday hike." I had just had a brief email conversation with someone concerning Loma Prieta and the issues I had had on my first visit. I had approached it originally a number of years ago from the west, starting from the paved road that runs up the NE side of Mt. Umunhum near Sierra Azul OSP. I had to cross private property along Summit Road, and upon my return from the peak had been met by the property owner who refused to let me recross. Fortunately I was only detoured for an hour or so as I found an alternative around, but it could have been a much bigger hassle. In the email conversation it was mentioned that a route from Uvas Canyon County Park had been posted elsewhere. I decided it would be a good route to check out.
At 2,500ft+ of gain and 5.5 miles distance one-way, it was about as much as I could reasonably foist on my non-climbing friends Steve and Ray. It turned out to be a good outing and a good route. Most of it is along public access, all of it along roads. The portion inside the park is the steepest, climbing lots of elevation in a short mile and a half. There is another small bump along this part that can be climbed (Knibbs Knob) if you have an additional 20 minutes (we didn't). Once at Summit Road, you leave the park and travel along the ridgeline for several miles until SE of the summit. There are a number of homes along the route, more in the process of being built. The views are phenomenal out to Monterey Bay and the Santa Clara Valley. The last mile is signed for No Admittance save for authorized personnel and property owners, but we were never bothered though passed by half a dozen cars and trucks.
The summit is topped by a large array of antennae, and you have to walk around a bit to get all the swell views the peak has to offer. Sadly, I forgot my camera so I have no pictures on what was an exceptionally clear day - we could easily see to San Francisco and beyond to Mt. St. Helena. We could also see see south to Junipero Serra, a stretch of more than 150 miles between those two county highpoints. Loma Prieta is the highest point in the Santa Cruz Mountains and seems like it should be the highpoint of Santa Cruz County - save for the fact that it falls completely in Santa Clara County.
Following on the tail of a storm system, though completely sunny our visit was extremely cold and windy. We sought shelter in an abandoned horse trailer on the east side of the peak in order to eat our lunch. Despite gloves, jacket, and a balaclava, my fingers still went numb. It was like being in the Sierra in winter! It was also apparent that I had not made it to the summit on my first visit to the area. I had climbed a lower antennae-clad summit to the north instead.
The whole outing took about five hours at a leisurely pace.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Loma Prieta
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