Climbing El Sombroso and Bald Mountain

Road zig zagging up to the top which is the high point at the upper left of the photo

Road zig zagging up to the top which is the high point at the upper left of the photo

Type of hike: Out and Back

Difficulty: 6 – Route is entirely on old road, but steep in places

Trail grade: A bit of a climb at first followed by about a 700 foot decent down to where the Baldwin Trail joins the Woods Trail.  After crossing  Rincon Creek and Guadalupe Creek, the trail climbs from about 1700 feet to 3000 feet at the top of El Sombroso.

Trail use: A few people… more when we joined up with Woods Trail

Highest elevation: ~3,008 at top of El Sombroso.  We parked at 2,328′.

Total climbing: 2,603′ but that included climbing a hundred feet or so to get up Bald Mountain.

Round trip distance: 12.1 miles including 1.4 miles round trip to Bald Mountain

How long: About 4 hrs 30 minutes

Quality of views: Pretty awesome… gotta be at least a 9.  The top of El Sombroso was disappointing though.  Hard to see anything because of all the brush.  But there were places where there were views of the entire Bay Area … and then there are almost constant views of Mt. Umunhum.

Weather conditions when we did it: Sunny, 70 degrees-ish, mostly clear ‘cept for some haze

Red tape: None

Maps we used: Internet, Google Earth, Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve

Water: None – bring what you need.  There are a couple creek crossings so I guess you could pump and filter if you wanted

Restrooms: At parking lot.  Restroom was wonderfully clean

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Parking: In a lovely parking lot off Mt. Umunhum Road

How to get there:  Starting at the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 85, go south on 85 for about 2.5 miles and exit onto Camden Avenue and turn south (towards the mountains).  Go down Camden for about 2 miles and then turn right on Hicks Rd.  Follow Hicks Rd for about 7 miles, passing Guadalupe Reservoir, and up a large hill until you reach the Hicks and Mt Umunhum intersection.  Continue driving about 1.3 miles until a gate bars any more vehicular access up the road. Park here.

Now for a few of the details…

Select this link to go to lotsa pictures

This was an outing with Donna’s hiking group.  This included Joan, Anita, Judy, Tai, and Chris.  We all piled into the van for the trip to the trail head.

From the parking lot at the trailhead we decided to knock out Bald Mountain first so with lively legs we went the 0.7 miles over to the view point.  From there we had a lovely view of Guadalupe and Almaden Reservoirs.

After this short warm up, it was time to get started.

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This hike was a bit different from most of the hikes we’ve done in that it was entirely on road.  So for the most part we just walked and talked our way to the top of El Sombrosa.  There was quite a bit of walking though… so lotsa time for talking.  However, besides being long, the road was steep in places.  And of course all the heavy breathing had an impact on a the talking.

Anyway, we eventually arrived at the top.  Kinda weird top though.  Power lines ran right over the peak.  That and the fact that we had never left the road took some of the adventure out of the outing.  But the views were stunning.  And we were in good company.

We stopped for lunch at a road intersection near the top….  Checked out the views for a while… And then headed back the way we came.  On our way down, since we were now facing that way, it was very noticeable that we could see the van off in the distance, parked at the Bald Mountain parking lot.

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And all the while the cube at the top of Mt. Umunhum sat brooding above us.  The trail basically wraps around the eastern side of Mt. Umunhum so the cube was almost always visible.

It was a very pleasant outing.

Can't wait to hear what you have to say about this...