|Bald Mountain Trail,
Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve,
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District,
Santa Clara County
1.4 mile out and back hike to an overlook with great views of the Sierra Azul, Mount Umunhum, and the southern Santa Clara valley.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1.4 mile out and back hike is exceptionally easy, with only about 75 feet in elevation change. Most other hikes at Sierra Azul are long and tough.
Dirt fire road.
Under 1 hour.
Nice any time.
From Interstate 280 in Santa Clara County, exit CA 85 south (exit #12b). Drive south about 10 miles, then exit Camden Avenue (exit #8). Turn left and drive south on Camden about 2 miles, then turn right onto Hicks Road. Drive south on Hicks Road about 6 miles, then turn right at a stop sign onto (unsigned) Mount Umunhum Road (this is a two-lane road past Guadalupe Reservoir; a small open space parking lot on the right is visible from Hicks Road). Drive uphill on Mount Umunhum Road about 2 miles to the roadside pullout on the right side of the road, just before the gated end of (public access to) Mount Umunhum Road.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phone, and stores back on Camden Avenue. No camping in the preserve.
Parking for 3-4 cars on the side of the road. No drinking water, restrooms, maps, or designated handicapped parking. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead.
Trails are multi-use. Although dogs are permitted on some trails at this preserve, they are not allowed on the trails departing from this trailhead. The preserve is open from dawn to 1/2 hour after dusk.
The Official Story:
MROSD's Sierra Azul page
MROSD's field office 650-691-1200
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from MROSD (download the pdf)
This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, 1st edition, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order this book from Amazon.com. A different Sierra Azul hike is described in the book's 2nd edition (order this book from Amazon.com.)
Peninsula Tales and Trails, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has an overview of the preserve, descriptions of hikes, and simple maps.
South Bay Trails, by Jean Rusmore, Betsy Crowder, and Frances Spangle (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and a few suggested hikes.
The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book, by Tom Taber, has a map and park description (order this book from Amazon.com).
Bald Mountain Trail in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos of this hike.
Azul is a 15,000 acre preserve unknown to many bay area outdoor enthusiasts. Although thousands of south bay residents
drive past the preserve daily, and the highest peak, Mount Umunhum strikes
a conspicuous profile, Sierra Azul still receives relatively few visitors.
It is a fragmented preserve, with a fractious surrounding community, and
some of the property is fraught with unsafe conditions. Most of the land
now belonging to MROSD was part of the defunct Almaden Air Force Station,
and the summit of 3486 foot Mount Umunhum remains off limits, closed due
to hazardous materials and structures. A square structure looming above the summit
of Mount Umunhum (some say it looks like a giant sugar cube) makes the mountain
easy to identify from almost anywhere in the south bay, but for many it's
just a daily reminder of the Air Force's desecration of a sacred peak
Ohlone Indians called "resting place of the hummingbird."