Rhus Ridge to Black Mountain

Description:  9.6 miles, 2400 feet of climbing, 4.5 hours.  Topo map of hike. 

Tuesday I took off work to hike Black Mountain in Rancho San Antonio Open Space expecting to start from Hidden Villa.  Little did I know that they close the park to hikers during the summer for kids’ camps.  So I turned around and headed to Rhus Ridge Road.  There are 8 ways to hike up Black Mountain according to one website.  I had heard about this entrance but have never hiked from it.  The parking lot is small so I assume it would be difficult parking on weekends.   Directions to the trailhead are easy to follow.  This hike started out climbing and reminded me of Almaden Quicksilver’s Hacienda Entrance.  

It was a hot day (90) and even in the shade it was a tough .9 miles to Black Mountain Trail.  Once on the top the trail climbs gradually for three miles before climbing sharply for the last 1.5 miles.  It took me 2.5 hours to get to the top, stopping for rests and food breaks.   At the top the view is great but there is no shade for a rest stop.  a dead end trail to the left takes you to some tree but not really a great place to rest. This hike is best done in spring when it is green and cool and you can hang out on the rocks at the top.  I have also done this hike in winter when it is so wet and cold you can”t see 50 feet in front of you.

Returning was easy, except for some slippery steep downhill.  Return trip took less than 2  hours.  This is a good hike if you are looking for some serious exercise that is an easy drive from the south bay.  The Bay Area Hiker website has a good write up on this hike but there are slight differences in distances and elevation gain.

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Fall Creek High School Trail to Truck Trail

High School Trail Loop: 9 miles, 1300 feet of climbing, moderately slow pace, 4 hours.

I took my usual hike starting from the San Lorenzo Elementary School parking lot. Traversing the east side of the track field the hike starts behind the field on the road between the childcare center and the environmental center. Today I took the Ridge Trail up to the Truck Trail. Instead of cutting down to the Fall Creek Trail I continued on the Truck Trail for a while. To my surprise it was a level, pleasant walk to a grove of mid-size redwoods named for a donor, Goldie. From here the trail soon started downhill so I turned around and retraced my steps to the junction down to Fall Creek. I went left at the creek, past the Barrel Mill Site and connected up with the North Trail. Fall Creek Park is basically divided up into the South fork and North fork sections of the creek. I took the level North Fork back to Fall Creek Drive and cut back to High School Trail.