New Views - Rainbows and Waterfalls
|I went out
to Santa Teresa
County Park on Sunday 2/27/2000. It had been raining on and off all
I knew from previous trips during the El Nino season that there was a
waterfall that flows only after heavy or frequent rains. Heading up
Road, I could see a lot of water flowing down the rocky culvert along
road near the park entrance. This was a good sign, since this water
comes from the creek that produces the falls. I drove up to the upper
and parked in the lot by the entrance to the Hidden Springs Trail, just
before the park road turns to the right by the new group picnic site. I
went up the Hidden Springs Trail to the left below the girl's ranch. It
was a little muddy, but by stepping carefully, I made it up the short
It was still raining, so I got a nice view of a rainbow over the Santa
Teresa Golf Course and Tulare Hill.
It also provided a good view of the Santa Teresa neighborhood. The tract homes, strip malls, school yards, and industrial parks were in sharp contrast to the rugged, natural hills nearby. The gleaming towers of downtown San Jose were visible in the distance. The Hidden Springs Trail below this point tends to be muddy, so I turned back.
The creek runs under the trail in a tunnel. To the left of the trail, it falls steeply down through a densely wooded ravine below the Ridge Trail. To the right of the trail, it tumbles down a rocky ravine that can be accessed from the trail.
Near the junction with the Ridge Trail is the steepest part of the Hidden Springs Trail, and the footing can be tricky. I carefully made it up the hill. The rocky slopes to the left were covered new green grass. In the spring, there should be wildflowers growing here. As I reached the crest of the hill, I could see a small stream along the side of the trail to the right. At the top of the trail, I could see the source of the stream: the small seasonal pond at the base of the hills. In the spring, this pond teams with tadpoles, who race against time to develop into frogs before the pond dries up. In the summer, this is a dry depression, surrounded by dry grass. In the winter, however, it fills up and becomes a beautiful reflecting pond at the gateway to Coyote Peak.
Up to Coyote Peak
The Hidden Springs Trail ends at the junction with the Coyote Peak Trail. I took the Coyote Peak Trail and began the steady climb to the peak. There were small rivulets racing down the trail, but otherwise, the trail surface was in excellent condition. As I ascended, the view became more and more spectacular. Every step revealed more sights: the Santa Teresa Hills, the Almaden Valley, the Los Capitancillos Ridge of Almaden Quicksilver County Park, and the dark green wall of the Sierra Azuls. All around, the hills were clothed in a lush green coat of fresh grass. It was refreshing to see the green grass now, because I knew that in a few weeks, after the rains stop, the hills will turn a dry brown and will stay that way the rest of the year.
Finally, I made it to the top of Coyote Peak, about a 1000 feet above the valley floor. Towering high above the surrounding hills, Coyote Peak provides 360 degree views of the surrounding area. It sits at the southern edge of the Silicon Valley, so to the north are endless plains of houses and business, but in other directions are undeveloped hills, mountain slopes, and fields. From this vantage point, I could see all the way south down the Coyote Valley to Morgan Hill. To the east, I could see Tulare Hill and the northern Coyote Valley, a hotbed of controversy now because of the proposed power plant and Cisco campus. Now, it was just a big green field, with a seasonal lake across the road. To the immediate southeast were the rolling undeveloped ranch lands, most of which are owned by IBM. IBM's Santa Teresa Lab is on Bailey Avenue, but it was hidden by the hills. Beyond and down the Coyote Valley were more green fields, scattered seasonal ponds, and bright splashes of yellow mustard. The buildings and warehouses of Morgan Hill were barely visible on the horizon. To the south, I could see the hills of Calero Reservoir County Park. A sliver of blue was all I could see of Calero Reservoir itself. To the southwest was the trail leading down along the rolling hilltops below Coyote Peak to the abandoned microwave station at the start of the Rocky Ridge Trail. Beyond that was the Sierra Azuls, topped by Mt. Loma Prieta, the highest point in the Santa Cruz Range. To the west, looking into the setting sun bursting through the clouds, I could see down the Big Oak Valley into the Almaden Valley. A spotlight of sunlight lit up Rocky Ridge to the northwest, behind which was the IBM Almaden Research Center and the most populated part of the Almaden Valley. To the north was Bernal Hill and the ridge of the Santa Teresa Hills. Beyond that was Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay Area. On very clear days, I've seen the skyscrapers of San Francisco and Oakland from here, and even the top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County. On this day, dark clouds and sheets of rain obscured the view up the Bay.
Here are some views from Coyote Peak, starting from Tulare Hill and turning to the right:
Just before the sun began to set, I saw rainclouds approaching, so I quickly made my way down the mountain and back to my car before the rain hit.
Pictures taken 2/27/2000
Created 2/28/2000, updated 5/3/09 by Ronald Horii