Up Umunhum

Hike to the Summit of Mount Umunhum in the South Bay

Hiker taking in the mountain view from the summit of Mount Umunhum

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

Plaque for summit of Mount Umunhum at the summit

A person sitting in front of The Cube radar tower

Sunrise view of the Santa Cruz mountains from Mount Umunhum

Early birds are in for a treat, as sunrise over Bald Mountain (a quick half-mile hike away) can be a breathtaking kaleidoscope of color. Signs for the Bay Area Ridge Trail lead you up a gradual ascent, with much of the route shaded by trees, including groves of red-barked manzanita. Midway up the trail, a marker notes the ruins of an old cabin where the mysterious “Lady of the Mountain” lived in the early 1900s.

Hiker crossing a bridge on the Bay Area Ridge Trail at Mount Umunhum

Hiker taking a photo of flowers along a trail at Mount Umunhum

Hiker on the trail hiking up to the summit of Mount Umunhum in the South Bay

As the tree cover begins to thin, the trail intersects with the upper parking lot. From here, the final push to the peak is over slightly steep, rocky terrain; one final challenge before earning your summit. {NOTE: Currently, construction on the upper mountain has closed this section of trail, so hikers should use the stairs by the restrooms. There is no ADA access above this point through 2021.}

Hiker under a canopy of trees on the trail up to the summit of Mount Umunhum

Once atop the summit, take in that view! From the lookout platforms, there’s a gorgeous panorama in every direction, with visibility from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Sierra. Visitors can also get an up-close view of “The Cube,” the massive radar tower that has become an iconic landmark on the Silicon Valley skyline.

Two hikers heading up the Bay Area Ridge on the way up to the summit of Mount Umunhum

The final stop is the Ceremonial Circle, a reminder of the mountain’s history as a sacred place for local Native American tribes, and a site for ceremony, prayer, and education. Standing among all this beauty, it’s easy to see why Umunhum has been cherished for millennia.

Three hikers smiling at the camera in front of the Bay Area Ridge Trail

Hiker at the summit of Mount Umunhum in the South Bay

HIker at the Ceremonial Circle at the summit of Mount Umunhum in the Santa Cruz Mountains South Bay

BONUS: Early birds or late-day finishers may want to add the 1-mile (round-trip) hike from the parking lot to Bald Mountain, which starts from the same area. Sunrise here is particularly spectacular.

Hiker smiling at the platform summit of Mount Umunhum in the South Bay Santa Cruz Mountains

To reach the trailhead, take Hicks Rd. to Mount Umunhum Rd. in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. Two miles down Mount Umunhum Rd., turn left into the Bald Mountain parking lot. The trail begins across the street. There's no water here, bring your own. No dogs.

Story and photos by Poe Casavant

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Hiker on the SCA trail in Marin Headlands with view of the Golden Gate Bridge

    Headlands Over Heels

    People come from all over the world to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a dramatic and novel view of the bridge without all the people on this moderate 6-mile hike in the Marin Headlands.

    View
  2. Hiker at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve hiking amid lupine wildflowers

    Hidden Wilds of Healdsburg

    When you arrive at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, you may wonder what could possibly be tucked behind a subdivision. But within minutes of hiking in this 155-acre preserve, the beauty reveals itself: majestic oak trees, wetland, spring wildflowers, and wowing views of the Mayacama Mountains and Russian River.

    View
  3. Hiker on a trail with beautiful green hills and wildflowers on the grasses at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

    Carr Ranch

    Can’t decide between an epic hike or a relaxing nature walk? The 8.3-mile Carr Ranch Trail loop in the East Bay’s Contra Costa County is the perfect hike for rugged adventurers with a soft side.

    View
  4. Two women at the entrance of the Lavender Labyrinth at Bees N Blooms in Santa Rosa

    Lavender Labyrinth

    Labyrinths are meditative meanders. Add fragrant organic lavender and you're at Bees N Blooms at the foot of Taylor Mountain near Santa Rosa, experiencing their “ancient pathway of peace” and more.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Urban Hike to the Shakespeare Bridge in LA

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Hiker overlooking Bear Gulch Reservoir at Pinnacles National Park near Monterey

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? Spring's a beautiful time of year here. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  4. Hikers by the reservoir at Triunfo Creek Park near Thousand Oaks

    Triumphant in Triunfo

    Go on a hike with a peaceful reservoir, charming meadows, and beautiful spring blooms at Triunfo Creek Park near Thousand Oaks.

    View