Hill of a Good Hike

Hike a panoramic loop at St. Joseph's Hill in the Los Gatos Hills

Located just off Highway 17 in the Los Gatos hills, St. Joseph’s Hill packs a big panorama within this 3.5-mile loop. Start on the Jones Trail for a gentle ascent among enormous and fragrant eucalyptus trees. Less than a mile in, turn left onto the Novitiate Trail. This winding route quickly gains elevation, gifting hikers with views of the surrounding forest and mountains.

Mountain biker riding upa wide trail at St. Joseph's Hill in Los Gatos Bay Area

Hikers on a wide and flat trail at St. Joseph's Hill in Los Gatos

Hiker heading up a wide dirt trail at St. Joseph's Hill in Los Gatos

Signs for the Hilltop Vista guide you up the Range Trail, Brothers Bypass, and Manzanita Trail, aptly named for the bright red- and copper-barked trees lining the route. After less than half a mile, the trees give way to open skies and the summit. At 1,253 feet, St. Joseph’s Hill has a huge view of the Santa Clara Valley and surrounding mountains, including the impressive Diablo Range to the north.

Hiker looking out to the Lexington Reservoir from the high point of St. Joseph's Hill in Los Gatos

From here, continue south along the Manzanita Trail until it intersects the Serpentine Trail. This twisty path through manzanita groves includes views of the deep-blue Lexington Reservoir. Make a right onto the Manzanita Trail to complete your loop, and follow the Novitiate and Jones Trails back to the trailhead. (At the Jones Trail intersection, hikers can add an extra mile (round-trip) to their route by heading south to the Lexington Reservoir for an up-close view of the water before returning to the trailhead.)

Mountain biker going up a trail at St. Joseph's Hill in Los Gatos

BONUS WINE: Taste some wine and soak up the views at multiple-award-winning Testarossa Winery, less than a mile from the trailhead. There's an expansive patio for tasting their much lauded California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Testarossa Winery stone builiding and outdoor patio in Los Gatos

The Jones Creek Trail Entrance is located at the end of Jones Road in Los Gatos. (259 Jones Rd.) Street parking is available in this quiet neighborhood, but please be courteous to residents and avoid parking in private driveways. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Poe Casavant.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Up Umunhum

    Rising from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is one of the Bay Area’s highest points, reaching an impressive 3,486 feet. With the new 7.4-mile (round-trip) addition to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, locals can finally step up to its peak.

    View
  2. Cross It Off Your Bucket List

    Crosstown Trail San Francisco may be one of the most beautiful city walks in America, passing through less-visited nooks and crannies while also taking in greatest hits, including mosaic stairways.

    View
  3. Kirby Your Enthusiasm

    Just west of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin is one of the Bay's most-accessible secluded beaches. Kirby Cove is accessed by hiking or biking a 1-mile fire road down to the beach, where the reward is an all-time classic Golden Gate view.

    View
  4. Napa's Wild Side

    It’s wine country’s Amazon. Cutting 50 miles through the famous Napa Valley and emptying into San Pablo Bay, the gentle Napa River is an ecological—and recreational—delight. And Napa Valley Paddle helps you enjoy it.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Weekend Sherpa Podcast: Take it Outside

    Adventure for your earbuds. What's new in the world of the outdoors? Listen to Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss local hikes, beaches, bike rides, camping spots and all kinds of travel and adventure in California and beyond!

    View
  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

    View
  3. Secluded Royale

    Panoramic coastal views and a killer leg workout combine on this 2.7-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike to secluded Coast Royale Beach in Orange County

    View
  4. Border Field State Park

    Border Field State Park is the southernmost point in California as well as one of the last beautiful undeveloped coastlines in the state. Visit this natural refuge for a 4.5-mile hike featuring important history and wildlife habitats, plus stunning SoCal beach scenery.

    View