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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
1800 ft elevation gain
4 hours 40 minutes total time
UPDATE: Reader Steven Christenson sends this KQED report on Mt. Umunhum
Descending Vista Point one morning I rounded a bend in the trail and stopped dead in my tracks. There 25ft away was this little fawn (see photo above). It’s mother was on the other side of the trail in the trees waiting for the fawn to cross the trail. Startled by hikers coming up the trail it had stopped then I happened along. It looked at me and headed in the opposite direction of its mother. Then timidly it crept up to this tree and watched me and its mother. It’s mother was not happy; she pranced and paced back and forth with worry. I wasn’t sure what I should do…wait and hope the mother crossed, or the fawn crossed, or just move on. I took a few quick photos. We hikers looked at each other wondering what would happen next then the Mother bounded up the hill the wrong way! Then the fawn sped down the hill into the bushes the wrong way! I continued down the mountain all the while hoping they’d reunite.
An anxious Doe!
I hiked a lot of miles in June. My elevation gained totals are incredible. The total floored me again when I added it up. I took a lot of neat wildlife and flower photographs while hiking in this park during the month of June, but these two photos are my favorites.
Just seven more weeks until the big hike to Yosemite’s Cloud’s Rest. I still am on track for successfully completing that hike.
Yesterday afternoon I hiked up to Black Mt. starting from a new to me trail-head. On the way down he was sunbathing on the side of the trail. Heman nearly stepped on him! He was about 2ft long, not too fat, and only had 4 rings on his rattle. I didn’t get all that close to him. I stayed on the other side of the fire road/trail.
About 1/2 mile from the end of my hike I saw another smaller one sitting on the side of the trail.
Yesterday afternoon was the day for wildlife. I saw a deer, a rabbit, 2 rattlers, and a hawk eating something. I couldn’t tell what it was I was too far away.
Nikon D300s| Nikkor 18-200mmVR @ 170mm| f10| 1/25 sec| ISO 200| Manual Mode| Hand-held
Black Mt Trail via Rhus Ridge Trail
Total hike 10 miles
Total feet gained 2,549
Total time: 4h 33mins.
Average speed 2.2mph
Correction- Thanks to Correcamino for correctly Identifying this rattler for me!