Serenity in El Sereno

Hike or bike a new section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail in El Sereno Open Space Preserve

Bikers checking out the view of the reservoir from a bench in El Sereno Open Space Preserve on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

This one’s for solitude seekers. The El Sereno Open Space Preserve leg of the Bay Area Ridge Trail is a new 7-mile (out-and-back) adventure for hikers and cyclists, winding through the chaparral with 1,000 feet of elevation gain and gorgeous views as payoff.

Sign for the Bay Area Ridge Trail in El Sereno Open Space Preserve in the South Bay

Person taking a break to take in the view at El Sereno Open Space Preserve

Start at Montevina Road Trailhead. This is an exposed trail so get an early start and be mindful of hot days and bring water and sun protection. At the intersection with Aquinas Trail, turn right. After 0.4 mile of climbing, the trail levels off to reveal the broad, flat summit of El Sereno—one of the peaks on the Silicon Valley skyline. Stop and take a breather at the lookout bench, where Lexington Reservoir and St. Joseph’s Hill are visible in the distance.

Past the lookout bench, the trail descends sharply toward the valley. At the intersection with Serenity Trail, bear right. Here, the dirt path is lined with a colorful native plant: California coffeeberry. The purplish-black berries contain pits that can be ground into a “coffee” (early gold rush explorers often used it when coffee supplies ran low).

After 1.3 miles, Serenity Trail ends at a vista point. Soak up the views of the deep blue Lexington Reservoir, dwarfed by Mount Umunhum and Loma Prieta on the horizon. Return the way you came.

BONUS: Do the 2022 Ridge Trail Challenge and you might get a grand prize!

The Montevina Rd. trailhead can be found at the dead-end of Montevina Rd. in Los Gatos. From SR-17, take the Bear Creek Rd. exit, then continue straight onto Montevina Rd. After 4 miles, turn right into the small dirt parking lot. (Parking is limited.) Bicycles and leashed dogs are permitted on trails.

Story and photos by Heather Werner,

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