Melchor Ranch Links:

Docent Preview of the Melchor Ranch, 10/28/14

SCCOSA Press Releases (includes Melchor Ranch announcement)

Morgan Hill Times: Open Space Authority Acquires 286-acre preserver in northwest Morgan Hill

Letter recommending the purchase of the Melchor Ranch

Other SCCOSA Links:

SCC Open Space Authority

SCCOSA Board of Directors

Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, 5/16/09

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, Mayfair Ranch Trail, 3/14/10

Facebook: Ulistac Natural Area, Santa Clara, 1/12/14

Facebook: Rancho Canada del Oro Hike, Mayfair Ranch Trail 1/18/14

Rancho Canada Del Oro (Pictures by Cait Hutnik)

Bird Count 2006: Rancho Canada Del Oro and Blair Ranch

Bay Nature Institute: Rancho Canada Del Oro

Coyote Ridge Wildflowers, 4/13/08

Coyote Ridge Wildflower Walks 4/18/10 and 4/3/10

Coyote Ridge, 4/18/10 (Facebook)

Coyote Ridge, April 17, 2011 (Facebook Album)

Coyote Ridge Wildflower Walk, 4/13/14

Facebook: Coyote Ridge Hike 4/13/14

Light of Morn: Coyote Ridge

Light of Morn: Coyote Springs Wildflowers

Coyote Ridge Serpentine Grasslands Field Trip

Blair Ranch Hike, 5/9/09

Blair Ranch Hike 3/28/10

Doan Ranch
Page 1, Page 2

Palassou Open Space Preserve Hike, 6/6/09

Bay Area Ridge Trail Links:

Bay Area Ridge Trail

Bay Area Ridge Trail Council's Facebook Page

Facebook, Goal:Hiking the Entire Bay Area Ridge Trail

Ridge Trail Guidebook

Ridge Trail, Sierra Vista map

Ridge Trail: Alum Rock and Boccardo Trail

KQED Quest on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

Mercury News: Santa Clara County: Lots of Trail, Lots of Gaps

Sierra Vista & Alum Rock Park Links:

Aquila Trail Dedication 8/23/14

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

Sierra Vista Map

Directions to Sierra Vista pictures, Sierra Vista Opening

Sierra Vista Trail Dedication 10/22/11

Facebook: Sierra Vista Trail Dedication 10/22/11

Sam Drake's Pictures, Sierra Vista Hike 10/22/11

Ellen Finch's Pictures, Sierra Vista Hike 10/22/11

Sierra Vista Boccardo Trail Hike 8/14/10

Facebook: Sierra Vista Hike 11/23/12

Boccardo Loop Trail, 8/14/10

Other Park and Trail Pages:

Santa Clara County Parks

Guadalupe River Park and Gardens:

Guadalupe River Trail

Guadalupe Creek Trail

Coyote Creek Trail

Bay Area Biking

Los Alamitos Creek Trail

Bay Trails, South Bay

Bay Area Parks

Friends of Santa Teresa Park

Almaden Quicksilver Park

SF Bay Rec & Travel

Calero Healthy Trails Hike, 4/25/09

Uvas Canyon Healthy Trails Hike, 2/21/09

Almaden Quicksilver Wildflowers and Views, Spring 2008, Part 2

Healthy Trails Walk, Almaden Quicksilver 3/28/09

Harvey Bear Ranch-Coyote Lake Pictures, 3/10/07, 3/21-21/09, 4/18/09

Joseph D. Grant County Park 1/31/10

Ed Levin County Park, Monument Peak Trail 3/3/09

The Penitencia Creek Trail

Penitencia Creek Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail Dedication, 10/25/08

Public Preview Hikes on the Melchor Ranch, 11/1/14

On Saturday, November 1, 2014, the public got a chance to get a preview of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority's newest acquisition, the Melchor Ranch. The property is 285 acres. It was purchased by the Open Space Authority, with the Santa Clara County Parks pitching in half the purchase price of $1.4M. The purchase was initiated by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). The ranch is along Uvas Road in Morgan Hill between Chesbro and Uvas Reservoirs and south of Croy Road, which leads to Uvas Canyon County Park. Docents got a tour of the ranch on Tuesday 10/28/14. The public tours were by reservation only. There would be one at 9:00 am and one at 12:00 pm. Even though the eighty reservation slots were full, predictions of rain for Saturday and actual rain in the morning probably scared most people away. Only eight people showed up for the first hike and five for the second hike.

The group for the first hike assembled in the open field near the ranch entrance. The Open Space Authority had a table setup with water, sign-in sheets, and information. The hike was led by docent Katherine Dollard, who had explored the property on Tuesday.

The group heads up the serpentine hill. Katherine talks about the vegetation on the hill, such as the gray pine on the left.

We follow a footpath or horse trail up the hill.

This is a toyon bush. It has red berries like holly, but it is not a holly.

Here on the serpentine rocks are lichen and dudleya. This is most likely Santa Clara Valley dudleya, which is a federally-listed endangered species, which means this hill is an endangered species habitat worthy of special protection.

We scramble to the top of the hill following horse trails. The hill is very rocky, with little or thin soil.

Looking back down, we can see the open field by the entrance to the ranch. Uvas Road is on the left. Uvas Reservoir is in the distance on the upper left.

There are large gray pines and manzanitas on top of the hill.

This dead branch is covered with lichen and moss.

We reach the top of the hill.

We head down into a forested area and join one of the ranch roads.

There are lots of wood rat nests like this all over the ranch in the forested areas.

We reach the pond area, which is surrounded by open hills used for grazing by the resident horses.

Katherine points out the oak trees on this part of the property. There are blue oaks, coast live oaks, black oak, and valley oaks in the hills.

This is an overlook of the ponds, with the hills in the background. The property runs up and over the ridge in the background.

We head down the hill. The property line is the fence on the right.

This is the northern boundary of the ranch. The grass is much higher beyond the fence because the land hasn't been grazed.

We find an interesting fungus growing in one of the oak trees. Shoots of poison oak are growing around it.

This is one of the smaller ponds on the north side.

This is a closeup of the lichens growing on a boulder.

Here are two ponds separated by a levee.

There's a huge boulder by the side of one of the ponds.

The boulder is covered with moss and lichens.

A depression a the base of the boulder may have been used by the native people for grinding acorns.

There was off-and-on light rain during the hike, as can be seen by the rings in the pond.

There are reeds growing all around the shore of this pond.

We head up towards the hills on the west side of the property. The serpentine rock underlies much of it, with a thin layer of soil on top.

Katherine talks about the rocks and vegetation that grows on them.

There are California fuchsia growing here, with their red-orange flowers, blooming even in November.

There are lots of bay laurels growing in this shady ravine.

The wet weather has revived the moss on this rocky outcropping.

Here's a closeup of the moss.

The ranch road splits. One side goes back down to the entry area. The other continues along the hillside.

We reach a steep road that goes straight up the hill.

This is a black oak.

There is another wood rat nest in the trees.

The ranch road continues straight up the hill.

Finally, we reach another road that runs level along the hillside.

What looks like long grass growing in the middle fo the road is actually a type of iris.

Looking down this narrow ravine, it is lined with irises.

At the base of this rocky cliff is a small spring. There's shovel left, probably for clearing the spring of mud. There's a pipe leading the spring water downhill.

This is the pipe for the spring water.

We come across an old wooden water tank.

The tank is not very useful for storing water, but it does serve as a shelter for a wood rat's nest.

We reach the end of the road before it becomes overgrown.

We head back down the hill.

We hike through the meadown o the south side of the hill.

We reach the end of the meadow, surrounded by pines and oaks.

Down below the meadow is a creek, currently dry.

Katherine leads one of the hikers (and me) along a narrow path through the woods. We have to dodge some poison oak and duck under branches.

On the other side is another meadow, surrounded by manzanitas.

There appears to be a narrow path through the dense manzanita bushes, leading uphill, but we don't take it.

A wall of manzanitas surrounds the west end of the meadow. They switch colors from a light green to a darker green.

Heading back, there's another ranch road leading off to the south, inviting further exploration in the future.

Along a creek bank is a buckeye tree, full of buckeyes.

We cross the creek back to the entry area.

Back at the start, Teri Rogoway gathers the group for the noon hike. Docent Cait Hutnik (second from the right) helped to greet visitors and check them in.

We look at an old road grader and a large fireplace, now being overgrown by poison oak.

The dilapidated remains of an old house are at the base of the serpentine hill.

These are closer views of the collapsed house.

This visitor is examining the moss on the boulder.

This is the spillway from one of the upper ponds to the small lower pond.

This road leads above one of the larger ponds.

This is the pond below.

The road ends at the creek that flows into the pond.

There are large rocks on the other side of the pond.

This is the huge boulder by the pond.

This valley oak tree's leaves are covered with colorful leaf galls. The branches are covered with lichens.

These are more galls on the oak leaves.

These mysterious cut stones have beveled edges, indicating they might have been used for a monument.

We head down the serpentine hill.

This is the shore of the small lower pond.

Above the pond is clay pigeon launcher. This area may have been used for skeet shooting.

These are the three friendly resident horses of the ranch.

The Melchor Ranch will be owned and managed by the Open Space Authority. The County Parks wil hold an easement for future trail access. It will serve a key role in connecting Uvas Canyon County Park, Uvas Reservoir County Park, and the West Valley Trail. The Open Space Authority will have more guided hikes in the future. Unrestricted public access will likely take some time, but much of the property has ready-made features, such as the flat field by the entrance for a staging area, and a network of ranch roads to use as trails. The wide variety of environments, the hills, the ponds, the forests, and the views will make it a family-friendly place to enjoy and learn about the outdoors. Even though it's not open to the public yet, if you call the Open Space Authority, you can arrange for individual or group tours by docents. This is generally true of most of the OSA properties. You can also volunteer to be a docent and receive training to lead hikes in these preserves.

Created by Ronald Horii, 11/3/14, modified 3/26/20