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A trail leading up through El Sereno Preserve.

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2,517' 767 m


1,174' 358 m


1,355' 413 m


52' 16 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers

The preserve is open year-round from dawn until half an hour after sunset.

There is NO PARKING at the Sheldon Road trailhead nor anywhere near the trailhead along Sheldon Road.

Runner Notes

The trail is eroded in several places, and rocks are common throughout the trail, so you need to watch where you are going. This trail is also popular with mountain bikers as many enjoy riding down the trail, although some enjoy the challenge of climbing up it, simply to ride back down, so be on the lookout for oncoming mountain bikers.


The Aquinas Trail begins at the park boundary gate at the end of Sheldon Road. The trail enters the woods and climbs gently at first along the hillsides. You pass by a gully where evidence of landslides sit above the trail. As the trail wraps around the hillside, flowers, like shooting stars, can be seen blooming in the spring. The first half mile is full of flowers in the early spring, making it popular for people who love flowers.

The trail begins to climb up the ridge as the woods begin to give way to chaparral environment. The trees give way to an open field where some limited views of the South Bay-area await you. Due to the amount of climbing that this trail does, it's popular with mountain bikers who ride down from the parking area on Montevina Road, so be on the lookout for riders.

At roughly 1.3 miles, the Serenity Trail breaks off to the left and descends to a vista point above Lexington Reservoir, although some of the view is obstructed by power lines and tree growth. The Aquinas Trail continues uphill, now without the cover of forest as it climbs the ridge line. The trail is washed out in a couple of places in the winter thanks to the rain, so watch your step. Off to the left of the trail, you can see the mountains and catch glimpses of Lexington Reservoir and homes that sit on the ridge line outside the preserve.

At roughly 1.9 miles, the Loma Vista Trail breaks off to the right and begins to descend to the park boundary. Because this trail dead-ends at a chain link fence, the best views are in the first 0.1 miles of the trail.

From here, you have roughly two miles to the parking area at the top of Montevina Road. Views continue to improve as you climb, with St. Joseph's Preserve and Lexington Reservoir spreading out before you across CA17. You can admire how far you have come as the trail snakes its way along the ridge below you.

At 2.75 miles, you enter the shade of the woods again for a little bit, so enjoy the break from the sun, especially in the summer. As you wind uphill, views of Cupertino and Campbell sit off to the right at 3.0/3.1 miles. The trail climbs a little more until it reaches a vista, although it is partly obscured by shrubs. The trail begins to descend at 3.5 miles.

At 3.6 miles, the Montevina Ridge Trail goes straight ahead, while the trail cuts back to the left and leads downhill to the parking area alongside Montevina Road. To get back to your car, turn around and enjoy the descent.

Flora & Fauna

There were lots of wildflowers in the spring when I took it. Most of these are found in the first 1.5 miles of the trail, though the wooded and shaded areas. Hawks, turkey vultures, and others birds can be seen flying overhead throughout the day.


Shared By:

David Hitchcock with improvements by Bill Bumgarner

Trail Ratings

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  2.7 from 3 votes
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1,866 Since Mar 18, 2017
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The Aquinas Trail can be seen snaking along the ridge below you in El Sereno Open Space.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
On clear days, the green mountains and the blue of Lexington Reservoir make for great photos, especially late in the day.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
Homes sit right outside the preserve in the hills above Lexington Reservoir.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
The trail moves through a small meadow between the chaparral and the woods.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
Flowers bloom within the first 1.5 miles of the trail. It's great in the early spring.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
Enjoy copious views of Silicon Valley from the Aquinas Trail.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA



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Mar 16, 2021
Suhas Gundimeda

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