Varying Trail Conditions

March 2019 Hiking


  • Location: Calero County Park, near Morgan Hill
  • Date: 30 March 2019
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Info: Santa Clara County Parks, BA Hiker
  • Fee: $0
  • Dirt-mud ratio: About even
  • Horses: 8
  • Deer: 2
  • Turtles: 1
  • Ticks: zero, thankfully
  • Mountain lions: zero, probably for the best

Near Morgan Hill, a short jaunt west of Highway 101, Calero Reservoir is a popular boating destination. I’d passed by the park once on my way back from Mt. Madonna County Park, and was curious to see if this park offered more than water. In fact, it did.

Parking at the southern trailhead was generous … and unmarked. I left my car in on a patch of dusty dirt next to another car, hoping it was a valid spot. As a county park, there’s a $6 entry fee. But the trailhead had no place to pay, so … a hikin’ we will go.

Loss Cerritos trail
Los Cerritos trail climbed and rambled over many small hills.

The first trail, Los Cerritos, wandered over many small hills. The rises had decent views of the valley and reservoir. The low spots had mud with standing water. All of it was exposed and sunny as the morning clouds evaporated.

Standing water and mud on the trail
Standing water covers the trail.

I followed the trail as it looped north to the reservoir, then south to a high windswept junction with Peña Trail. From here I had many options, but I stuck with my plan to head west along the Serpentine Trail loop.

Calero Reservoir
Calero Reservoir didn’t have many boats at the time.

Unlike Los Cerritos, oak trees kept this path mostly shady. I had occasional glimpses of higher foothills to the west. Occasionally my boots and trekking poles got stuck in mud, but the trail was mostly hard dirt. Then more mud. Then a thin patch of grass. From my boots’ perspective, the motif was variation.

Dry trail conditions
Sometime water left evidence of its passing.

Before long I reached the Calero Bat Inn, a popular hangout for mosquito-consuming flying mammals. The wooden structure was smaller than I expected, but unique. If any were home, they were well concealed from the harsh sunlight.

A horse and rider allowed me to walk pass. This was the second time I was told that horses take their time going downhill.

Cherry Cove, a western branch of the reservoir. Pictured here, the left-most peak is Mt. Umunhum.

Serpentine Trail turned south at a connector junction. The next leg of the trail tested both of mine during a steady uphill climb. In spite of the long walk, the weather cooperated. Neither too warm nor too cool, the sky was about as clear as you could ask.

I paused for a snack at the Fish Camp, which features an aging picnic table overlooking a small, quiet pond. Inch-high grass that concealed a half-inch of standing water. The results were messy.

Muddy boots
At least my muddy boots dried quickly on this sunny hike.

I met four more horseback riders before reaching the Vallecito Trail. Unlike the others, this narrow track cut through tall grass and hints of spring flowers — probably not wide enough for horses. At this point, the trails’ varying moisture, texture, and width were hallmarks of this park. The welcome variety made walks interesting.

Hills, grass, trail, and sky on Peña Trail
The view east from Peña Trail.

For next time

  • Come back at dusk to see the bats in warm weather.
  • The reservoir isn’t as scenic as the hills, in my view. More interesting trails lie away from the water.