Sierra Azul + Bear Creek Master Plan

Master Plan Update (posted 10/7/2011):
In response to high public interest and the successful procurement of outside funding to clean the Mt. Umunhum summit with the goal of opening this mountain peak to public use, the District has shifted staff resources to focus on the planning process for this particular site. Mt Umunhum is the highest peak at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and is the site of a former Air Force base atop the Santa Cruz Mountain ridge. The District expects to turn its attention back to the Master Plan at the completion of the Mt. Umunhum Site Plan, which is expected in the summer of 2012, and will incorporate the Site Plan into the Master Plan at this later time.

For more information on the Mt. Umunhum Site Planning process, please refer to the Mt. Umunhum Project page.

Just outside the town of Los Gatos, on either side of Lexington Reservoir, sit the District’s two southernmost preserves, Sierra Azul ("Blue Range") and Bear Creek Redwoods. These preserves are the focus of a public planning process to develop a Master Plan that will serve as a guiding vision for the land. The Master Plan will define the desired future use, direct resource and land management efforts, and outline public access opportunities at both preserves.

Sierra Azul is vast, encompassing more than 18,400 acres. Because of its size, the Preserve is divided into four areas: the Kennedy-Limekiln area adjacent to Lexington Reservoir County Park; the Cathedral Oaks area, which is almost entirely surrounded by private property and is therefore currently closed to the public; the Rancho de Guadalupe area, which is also currently closed to the public pending the planning and development of public access facilities; and the Mt. Umunhum area, named for the 3,486-foot mountain that is its most dominant feature. Although known for its chaparral-covered slopes, Sierra Azul has pockets of serpentine grasslands, bay and blue oak woodlands, and lush riparian corridors, including the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek. Home to deer, bobcat, coyote, and the federally threatened red-legged frog, the preserve also provides exceptional habitat for the elusive and far-ranging mountain lion. It has the beauty and ruggedness of an unspoiled wilderness and attracts visitors seeking a more vigorous hiking, biking, or equestrian experience.

No less beautiful and rugged, although much smaller in size at just over 1,430 acres, Bear Creek Redwoods abounds with Douglas fir, oak, and madrone as well as the redwoods for which it is named. There are also grasslands, five ponds, and three perennial creeks. Of historic interest, the Preserve is the site of the former Alma College and once contained the first mainland radio tower to receive the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Much further back, the Preserve served as one of General Fremont’s camp sites. Now, with its direct access to Lexington Reservoir County Park, its proximity to State Route 17, and its potential connections to many trails in the region, including the Bay Area Ridge Trail, Bear Creek Redwoods can easily become one of the Bay area’s most popular recreation destinations.

The master planning process aims to provide the public with greater opportunities for recreation access, interpretation, and education, while protecting the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the landscape. The District is developing a long-term vision for these public lands and addressing opportunities for access and regional trail connectivity, species and habitat protection, safety concerns, and maintenance issues, among others. District staff and consultants are actively soliciting and encouraging community involvement from various agencies, non-profit organizations, neighbors, and constituents throughout the planning process.


Master Plan FAQ

Project Map

Master Plan Newsletter #1

Master Plan Newsletter #2

Master Plan Newsletter #3

Proceedings from 1st Master Plan Public Workshop

Proceedings from 2nd Master Plan Public Workshop

Proceedings from 3rd Master Plan Public Workshop

Results from Stakeholder Questionnaire

Additional Information

Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve

Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Trail Conditions

Current projects

Bear Creek Redwoods Planning

Cooley Landing Project

Coastside Protection Program

Driscoll Ranch Lease & Management Plan

El Corte de Madera Watershed Protection Program

Hawthorns Historic Complex

La Honda Creek Master Plan

Mindego Gateway Project

Mindego Ranch Use and
Management Plan

Mount Umunhum Summit Project

Skyline Ridge Tree Farm Project

Vision Plan Project