Set in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Morgan Hill’s Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve
is remote, wild, and delivers summit views that can make you feel like you’re on top of the world. Reach sweeping vistas of the Diablo Range on a 5-mile (round-trip) loop hike that starts on the Longwall Canyon Trail. You’ll get a combination of blue oak woodlands and open grasslands, starting with a 2-mile uphill climb (get an early start as this section is exposed). Hawks fly overhead, and wild turkeys roam these parts too. The trail’s high point is also the halfway point, marked by a lone picnic table and looking out to panoramas of the Diablo Range, including hulking Mount Hamilton. Below sits a valley of laurel, oaks, and manzanitas. From here, it’s mostly downhill, and shaded, as you loop back by way of the Bald Peaks and Catamount Trails, finishing on the Serpentine Trail, which follows a small creek.
From Hwy. 101 go west on Bailey Ave. Take a left on McKean Rd., then a right on Casa Loma Rd. and drive to the Rancho Cañada del Oro parking lot. From there, follow the signs for the Mayfair Ranch Trail, which connects to the Longwall Canyon Trail. Once you reach the summit, follow signs for the Bald Peaks Trail and the Catamount Trail, which will take you to the Serpentine Trail to loop back to the parking lot. No dogs.