|Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve - Woods Trail and Barlow Road|
The Barlow Road to Woods Trail route is 4.3 miles one-way and you can make a loop out of it by walking 1.3 miles uphill on Mt Umunhum Road from the Jacques Ridge parking lot, or you can arrange a shuttle to gate #SA08. Sound complicated? It's worth it in the fall, winter and spring - check the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's website for details on parking and trailheads. When I was up there in April, we ran into a couple who weren't sure which trail they were on, so one of our well-prepared and helpful trail patrol volunteers got them oriented and gave them a map. I think the great air makes hikers feel friendly and helpful when cruising this trail, however, I recommend you print up and take a map with you when you go.
|Happy on the trail going uphill or downhill, sunny or shady.|
There are great views from these trails to the Santa Clara Valley, Mt Umunhum (elevation 3486' with the dwindling remains of a cold war era air force base - closed to the public), Mt Thayer (elevation 3483', closed to public), Mt. El Sombroso (elevation 2999', further west on the Woods Trail), Bald Mountain (elevation 2387', a short 0.7-mile hike from the #SA08 parking pullout), and on a clear day, to the Hamilton Range on the opposite side of San Francisco Bay.
|Admiring plants growing on the rocky cliff faces along the Woods Trail.|
|Mule ears among a foam of forget-me-nots.|
|After our April hike, we added naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora) as a new plant to the Natural Diversity Database list for Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.|
This post is part of a series of Wildflower Hotspots of the Santa Cruz Mountains.