Mt. Umunhum and Bald Mountain

View of Mt. Hamilton, Woods Trail View by Deborah M. Zajac © All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday July 10, 2011

Since I’ve been training to hike up to Cloud’s Rest this August I’ve been hiking in the mountains that surround Santa Clara Valley. I’ve hiked to Mission Peak, Mt. Allison, and Black Mountain. I decided that I’d like to conquer Mt. Umunhum too. It is a mountain that lies to the south of me in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range.  Its name is from the Ohlone Indians that once called this valley home. It means “Resting place of the Hummingbird.”

It is a peak that has been a landmark, and barring marker to me since I moved to Santa Clara Valley in 1968. On top of Mt. Umunhum Summit sits a 5 story early-warning radar Station. Mt Umunhum was a former site used by Almaden Air Force that operated from 1958 to 1980. Years ago the county acquired the land for Open Space and is in the process of cleaning up the summit so we all can use the space for exercise and leisure. I hoped I would be able to get up there.  This was my goal to conquer/summit Mt. Umunhum. I was in good company too. Heman joined me for this hike, and I was hiking it sans hot tea, caffeine of any sort, and with only 4 hours sleep!

Mt.Umunhum seen from Bald Mountain by Deborah M. Zajac.© All Rights Reserved.

Our route started on the Woods Trail which is aptly named. It is shaded by large trees, and the first 3 miles is mostly flat, with some gentle ups and downs. I moved really fast here.

At Barlow Road we turned left.  You begin to climb straight-away on this fire road. You climb 800 ft in the space of 1 mile. There are fewer shade trees along this road, but there are views of the canyon, and of the valley looking south.  Several Butterflies and I enjoyed the late-blooming Red Maids, and Brittlebush lining the road.

California Sister by Deborah M. Zajac ©. All Rights Reserved.
Red Maids, and Brittlebush by Deborah M. Zajac © All Rights Reserved.
Western Tiger Swallowtail by Deborah M. Zajac © All Rights Reserved.

The trail ends at Mt. Umunhum Road. Here I discovered the “No Trespassing” signs and warnings NOT to venture up to Mt. Umunhum’s summit.

Alas, it isn’t open yet, so we hiked up to the summit of Bald Mountain instead.

Turning left on Mt. Umunhum Road we followed it about 0.3 miles to the trail-head of Bald Mountain. This is an easy 0.7 mile trail to the summit. Also aptly named; this mountain has no shade, it’s a grassy summit.

Survey Marker on Bald Mountain by Deborah M. Zajac © All Rights Reserved.

The views are very nice in every direction. To the west you see Mt. Umunhum, and to the east the view is of Almaden Reservoir, and beyond.

Heman at Bald Mountain; eastern view by Deborah M. Zajac © All Rights Reserved.

It was a long hike. Best done in the morning during the warmer months. I liked the Woods Trail best for its shade, and the views.  Mt. Umunhum is still on my list to conquer. I’ll hike this route again when it’s open which I’ve read since doing this hike could be this fall.

Hike Stats:

11 miles

1800 ft elevation gain

4 hours 40 minutes total time

UPDATE: Reader Steven Christenson sends this KQED report on Mt. Umunhum