- Location: Sanborn County Park
- Date: 14 July 2018
- Distance: Five miles? Or maybe six?
- Info: Santa Clara County Parks, Redwood Hikes
- Fee: $6
San Jose is hot in mid-July, and I wanted a bit of exercise, so I decided to continue exploring the Santa Cruz Mountains. Sanborn County Park abuts Castle Rock State Park, 15 minutes southwest of Saratoga.
My first impression was of a rambling city park. Picnic tables and clumps of trees punctuated that wide-open spaces along a gentle hillside. Paved paths linked the ample parking lots to the various points of interest, including several sets of standalone restrooms.
There was also a $6 entrance fee, compared to the other free county parks I’ve visited so far.
I strolled along a paved path to the George Peterson Memorial Grove, which had eight or nine redwoods adjacent to an amphitheater with a covered stage. Nearby I found paper maps and began searching for the trailhead.
It wasn’t easy. The map wasn’t as detailed as the territory, and I had a few false starts before finding signs for the “nature trail.” Along the way I passed people building a stage and setting up an array of lights. Two of them held what looked like fencing foils. They discussed their moves while a third person, carrying a fake bow, looked on. A sign read, “play under construction.”
When I returned later, I also saw a sign directing people to a wedding, and families setting up two different kids’ birthday parties. Sanborn CP is not wild backcountry.
But my first impression belied the experience. At length I found the Peterson Trail, which climbed a steep hill through a dense forest. The air was still and warm. I passed other pairs of hikers, sometimes with dogs. My other companions were mosquitos and horseflies. I only found one scenic vista, and it was limited. If you like the green tunnel, this trail’s for you.
I haven’t mentioned the signage yet because there’s little to say. Several generations of trail markers weren’t as clear as other parks I’ve seen. Sometimes the trail would split with neither a marker nor a mention on the map in my pocket.
After a while I found the Sanborn Trail, which was narrower than the Peterson. Several trees had fallen across the path and been cut apart, weeping sap, though a recent fall still blocked the way. When I encountered other people going downhill, we had to wait for each other to pass.
The dusty trail crawled steadily uphill. The view was monotonous. I had no sense of how far I’d walked, or where the next junction was. In fact, I wondered if I’d passed it; maybe one of those last offshoots was the right way? I reached into my pocket to consult the map.
My pocket was empty.
Somewhere along the way it had fallen out. So I’m not sure at what point I decided to turn around, and I didn’t find it again as I retraced my steps.
One of my goals is to figure out how long it takes me to go a certain distance in varying terrain. My FitBit isn’t always reliable on the trail, so without being able to accurately measure miles, this trip was a bust.
For next time
- They’ll take cash, Mastercard, and Visa, but be prepared to pay $6 per car.
- There’s plenty of parking. Some of it is shaded. The place was less than a quarter full by noon on a hot Saturday.
- Read the paper maps carefully. Better yet, find details online.
- The trails are steep. If you want a challenge, you can do worse than the Peterson Trail climbing towards Andreas.
- The dirt paths can be slippery. You might find trekking poles helpful, especially on the way down.