The Beauty of Black Mountain
Hike to the Summit of Black Mountain in the South Bay
Rising 2,800 feet over the Peninsula’s Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, Black Mountain—the inspiration behind Mountain View’s name—quietly stands watch over the South Bay. Whatever your adventure style, this mountain’s got you covered! Open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians, Black Mountain can be accessed from five different parks. It’s also one of the few local summits with its own backpacking camp.
This 5.4-mile loop from Monte Bello Open Space Preserve is a moderately difficult route up the mountain’s west side. From Monte Bello’s main parking lot, head south on the Stevens Creek Nature Trail, then bear left to merge onto the Canyon Trail. Early morning is the best time to visit this section of the park, when the sunrise peeking over the hills is beautiful.
Follow signs for the Backpack Camp as they lead up Bella Vista Trail, a beautiful open grassland that’s home to deer, coyotes, and bobcats. Then turn right onto Old Ranch Trail, the final steep push to the summit ridgeline. At the end of the trail, overnight hikers can set up their tents at the Backpack Camp (permits required).
Signs for the summit will lead hikers up a wide dirt road to the rocky peak. Strike your best victory pose among the Calera Limestone, and see if you can spot the metal summit marker among the rocks (or even a flash of gold, once mined here). Soak up the fantastic views, spanning from the Santa Clara Valley to San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.
When you’ve had your fill of the scenery, retrace the route back down the dirt road and turn left onto Indian Hill Trail. After rainstorms, a seasonal pond can be found on this trail, and eagle-eyed adventurers can spot newts in the water. Turn right onto Canyon Trail and retrace your steps back to the parking lot.
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve is located at 4301 Page Mill Rd., Los Altos. From I-280, exit onto Page Mill Rd. Drive south for 7 miles, then turn left into the park. The park is open one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. No dogs.
Story and photos by Heather Werner, @heath.er.wer.ner
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