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Ridge Trail

Intermediate
 3.5 (2)

Wide doubletrack that goes from the bottom to the top of the park.


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Map Key

2.6

Miles

4.1

KM

76%

Runnable

1,872' 571 m

High

533' 162 m

Low

1,340' 408 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildlife

Open 8 a.m to sunset.

Description

Ridge Trail can be done in either direction. As described here, this run goes from the southeast corner of Mt. Madonna County Park, to the center of the park close to many park facilities and the Mt. Madonna summit. Going in this direction, the trail start is found by taking Merry-Go-Round Trail for 0.2 miles from the parking area at the southeast corner of the park. After running 0.2 miles on Merry-Go-Round Trail, go left at the signpost that marks the start of Ridge Trail.

Ridge Trail is a wide fire road style trail that climbs continuously over its entire length. It goes from the eastern edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, to within a stone's throw of Mt. Madonna's summit (1,900 feet.), on the spine of these mountains.

Ridge Trail starts out in the forest on the drier east side of the mountains. Although it is forested, this is not a redwood forest here. As the trail climbs, the steep sided valley of Blackhawk Canyon drops off to the left (south), and the forested ridge rises to the right. The trail briefly pops out of the forest into an open brushy stretch from the 0.5 - 0.9 mile mark to reveal great views of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the east. The Diablo Range can also be seen very faintly in the far distance to the east, across Santa Clara Valley, at the highest point of this open stretch around the 0.9 mile mark.

Continuing on, Ridge Trail re-enters forest and remains in the forest to the trail end. As the trail climbs, its climate gets moister, most likely because of the coastal fog that comes over the spine of the mountains from the Pacific Ocean to the west, and cloaks the higher altitudes on the eastern side. Redwoods start to appear as the moisture increases, scarce at first, and dominating the forest by the end of the hike.

Ridge Trail passes several trails on its way up Mt. Madonna - Tie Camp Trail at the 0.9 mile mark, and Loop Trail and Iron Springs Trail at the 2.0 mile mark. After Iron Springs Trail, the park trail map labels the trail Ridge Road. However, all the signposts along the trail still mark it as Ridge Trail. Regardless, motor vehicles can be seen after Iron Springs Trail, as one passes a parking area on the right, and the Archery Range on the left.

Ridge Trail ends at the paved park road after 2.6 miles. There is a sign at this junction pointing the way onto Ridge Road. So if one wants to run Ridge Trail from here, opposite the direction of this description, go right at this Ridge Road sign to get on Ridge Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Beautiful mixed redwood forest. Deer live here.

Contacts

Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 2 votes

#22380

Overall
  3.5 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#2,406

in California

#22,380

Overall
7 Views Last Month
159 Since Dec 29, 2020
Intermediate

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Photos

The forested ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains with some winter color, seen from an open stretch along Ridge Trail.
Dec 27, 2020 near Interlaken, CA
Nearby, are the forested ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the far distance (left) the ridgeline of the Diablo Range, on the other side of Santa Clara Valley, can be faintly seen. Winter is a beautiful time in these hills.
Dec 27, 2020 near Interlaken, CA
Hiking west on Ridge Trail, the first redwoods start to appear. Just scattered at first, as one continues west, they take over the mixed redwood forest.
Dec 27, 2020 near Interlaken, CA
Just pretty, mixed redwood forest with the weak December sunlight filtering through the trees along Ridge Trail in Mt. Madonna County Park.
Dec 27, 2020 near Interlaken, CA
Twisty trees silhouetted by the afternoon winter sunlight along Ridge Trail.
Dec 27, 2020 near Interlaken, CA
This is the HUGE redwood that's over 8 feet across with its roots exposed next to the trail. Picture taken standing next to its exposed roots, that continued a few feet above my head.
Jan 1, 2021 near Interlaken, CA

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