There’s an ancient forest that’s been given a new lease on life and just opened to the public in June! Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is ideal for summer hiking thanks to shaded trails that keep things cooler.
Monarch butterflies flitter about, woodpeckers are drumming at tree trunks, and the preserve is working hard to support the habitat of protected western pond turtles and California giant salamanders. For a moderately challenging 5-mile (round-trip) hike, start with the first part of the Alma Trail (Junction 1). Be prepared for steep terrain! This 1-mile portion of the trail climbs 600 feet on an uneven, gravelly path.
The trail traverses a densely wooded hillside, shaded by tall redwood, fir, and oak trees. As you ascend the trail, you’ll catch glimpses of the Sierra Azul mountains in the distance. Just past a small meadow, the Alma Trail reaches a crossroads (Junction 2) where the trail continues as well as intersecting with the Redwood Springs Trail. At the crossroads, turn right to take the Redwood Springs Trail.
This pleasant 1.5-mile route begins by gently winding past leafy oak trees, sunny clearings, and a fragrant grove of bay trees. Midway along the trail, a sheer switchback takes you deep into a secluded forest that is crossed by a small spring. The flowing, fresh water creates a lush environment of ferns, moss-covered tree trunks, and tiny wildflowers. With replenished second-growth redwoods soaring up to 200 feet, this grove is truly majestic. Enjoy the sense of quiet and solitude as you amble to the end of Redwood Springs Trail (Junction 3). To complete the round-trip hike, retrace your steps.
It’s an easier return trip, so you can slow down and enjoy the glorious scenery of this refreshing woodland.
Pro Tip: Get an early start to avoid mid-day heat, and because this newly opened preserve is popular (parking can fill up).
Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is located 3 miles south of Los Gatos off of Bear Creek Rd. The preserve is open every day from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. It’s recommended to arrive early because parking is limited. Also it’s best to avoid the afternoon heat. A basic restroom facility is available. Bring your own water. There is no drinking water available. No dogs.