Route planning: Los Gatos to Black Road
I've spent enough time today searching the forums and browsing Google Maps/Earth and I still haven't found an answer to my question and so I will now appeal to the vast wisdom of crowds.
I'm trying to plan a "scenic" commute home from San Jose to Menlo Park. One route that looks interesting is to head down through Los Gatos, take the bike trail south to Lexington Reservoir, and then pick up Black Road and follow that north to Skyline and so on.
What I can't figure out is how to transition from the Los Gatos Creek trail to Black Road.
Here's a map of where I would be starting and where I'm trying to go.
It seems like these are my options:
1. Circle clockwise all the way around Lexington Reservoir. This would be about a 7 mile detour.
2. Ride the wrong direction in the shoulder on Hwy 17 for half a mile between Alma Bridge and Bear Creek Rd. Sounds stupid and dangerous.
3. Possibly take a dirt trail for the 1/2 mile section above. It shows up on Goog Earth but it's hard to tell if it's open to the public or gated/private etc.
4. Cross Hwy 17 at Alma Bridge Rd which would put me on Montevina. 2 lanes, concrete divider, 2 more lanes. Sounds even stupider than option 2.
Out of these, #3 seems like the least ridiculous. Anyone care to comment?
I was in the area in a car on Sunday and couldn't figure out an option I would be happy to ride. Los Gatos to Alma Bridge looks safer than Alma to Los Gatos. Black Road to Gist and 35 looks like on tough climb.
shortest route, yeah #3.
another option, probably not for the commute, is to go up bohlman and down montevina either way gist is worth checking out while you're up there.
i like the route around the reservoir. a few rollers, low traffic.. but only if you were going up old santa cruz toward skyline. probably an extra 8-10 miles to the top of black rd. nice and scenic, nothing too steep.
1 MILE TO TOP
Going around the reservoir, then left on Old Santa Cruz Hwy up to Summit to Skyline would be scenic. If you wanted a tough climb, there's the option of turning right at Holy City from Old Santa Cruz Hwy, then navigating the maze through Redwood Estates up to Summit.
Thanks for the suggestions ... it sounds like it's dirt trail or bust for this plan. To clarify my goal, I'm looking for a way to turn my 24 mile flat commute into about 40 miles with hills. Any longer and it put's me home too late. Those other options are pushing up towards 50 miles which might be okay once the days get longer.
For now I'll probably just throw Hwy 9, Montebello, or Page mill into the mix to get some extra climbing.
yeah, the only way to get from LG to Lexington is to travel on 17 (nope) or take a few dirt trails. The one you've pointed out on the map is the entrance to the backside of St. Joseph's Hill OSP. You probably dont want to go this way, it's rather steep and no place for a road bike.
On the other hand, you can take the LG Creek trail up to the dam and then get on Alma Bridge Rd. This is much better, only one steep section to deal with.
You do not have to go around the Lexington, you can just go straight to Bear Creek Rd to cross 17. From there you can get on Blacks Rd.
I have thought about doing this a few times, but I am unwilling to bring my road bike up the dirt trail.
How does this route look:
Basically it approaches from the north on the Los Gatos Creek trail and climbs up the back side of Lenihan Dam to Alma Bridge road. I think this is all paved, no?
Then the route follows what looks like a narrow dirt trail that parallels Hwy 17 down to Bear Creek. Is that what you're describing? I would imagine this part must be pretty flat (it is close to the reservoir) and it's only half a mile long so it seems it should be doable on a road bike.
Actually I just looked this trail up on Google street view. At the southern end where it meets up with Bear Creek it looks like this.
Originally Posted by starvingdavid
ben, the only change you'll have to make is to follow the construction detour. currently you have to go up the west side of the spillway to get to the top of the dam. so instead of making that quick left then right you just go straight.. it goes under the bridge and loops back up to the road (yes, where the water would be, if there was water..)
ohhhh yeah....that's 17 ahead there. There is an exit lane that extends from Bear Creek to this road on 17, hmmm.
Originally Posted by silentben
No, it's not all paved. I wish it was! LG creek trail is gravel, and the trail up from it to the dam is dirt with rocky parts. I have not ridden it for a while but when I did, it was something that a skilled rider could do on a road bike. But its not easy. It it was wet I'd be walking the hard part.
Originally Posted by silentben
It's flat, but it is often muddy and get driven on, so it gets rutted. I ride the loop, or go backwards on 17. There is a shoulder there, but there's a drainage grate that you have to ride in traffic to go around. I don't like doing it and there's no way I would try it in the dark.
Originally Posted by silentben
Black is very steep. 1750 feet in 4.3 miles, but there is a mile of flat in the middle. The first 2 miles are 9% and the last mile or so is more like 10%. There is no shoulder. It's one lane in spots and there are a lot of places with dropoffs and no guard rail. It gets a fair amount of traffic both to Black rd residents and people who live in Las Cumbres and other places off Skyline. The local drivers drive fast. Not all of them are good at moving over. I am not trying to discourage you, just letting you know what it is like.
I've lived and ridden in the area for years and I am still not hardy enough to want to ride it in the dark in the evening. I'm ok with riding it in the dark in the morning though. If you try it in the evening, put a lot of blinkies on the back and a good light on the front. Once you reach Skyline and turn north, you have another 800' of climbing to reach the high point. Skyline gets a lot of high speed commute traffic too but the road is wider.
Unless you are a really fast climber this will probably make your commute home too long.
I appreciate the advice Eric. I had sort of been assuming that Black road would get very little traffic with it being seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like my originally planned route has more pitfalls than I thought and that it'd be prudent to check it out in the day time before attempting it at night.