Rancho San Vicente Loop
ElevationAscent: 672' 205 m
Descent: -672' -205 m
High: 886' 270 m
Low: 422' 129 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 11% (6°)
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“This is a beautiful day-run through grass and wooded hills with views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Calero Reservoir.”— Joan Pendleton
Continuing along the shoreline of Calero Reservoir, the trail arrives at Calero Dam. Then after a mile or so on a thinly wooded sunlit hillside, one returns to the trailhead and parking area.
The golden grass hills of summer and autumn turn a brilliant bright green in winter and spring, exploding in vibrant wildflowers by March and April. Geese, ducks, wild turkeys, hawks, and a variety of other birds, along with deer are attracted to the creeks, reservoir, and quiet countryside.
From the trailhead, Rancho San Vicente Loop heads into the grass hills, climbing gently. To the right in the distant wooded hills, are a few widely scattered homes. To the left, rise the grass hills of Calero County Park. A few trail junctions are passed—North Ridge Trail at the 0.2 and 0.4-mile marks, and then the start of Cottle Trail at the 0.6-mile mark. About 1.1 miles from the trailhead, Vista del Oro Trail is finally passed on the left.
Shortly after passing Vista del Oro Trail, Rancho San Vicente Loop veers left (southeast) to head into the interior of the park, leaving all signs of civilization behind. A high, grassy ridge rises to the left of the trail. To the right of the trail is a wooded creek valley. Across the creek valley, one can see the wooded hills of the park and the Santa Cruz Mountains in the distance. The trail now goes through sunlit wooded sections as it levels off briefly before resuming its gradual climb.
At the 2.9-mile mark, there is a short 0.1-mile spur to Lisa's Lookout, above the trail's highpoint. This lookout has picnic tables and a great view of the hills and Santa Cruz Mountains. Lisa Killough, the Lisa Killough Trail and lookout's namesake, had a dedicated 25-year career with Santa Clara County Parks, enthusiastically promoting Santa Clara County Parks' growth and preservation.
Just after passing Lisa's Lookout, Rancho San Vicente Loop reaches its high point and begins to gradually descend. Continuing to wind through grass hills and thin woods, the trail passes the end of Vista del Oro Trail on the left at the 3.5-mile mark. From here, the trail heads east to one giant switchback where it does a U-turn to head west down into the Cherry Canyon Creek Valley and Cottle Trail.
Rancho San Vicente Loop reaches Cottle Trail after 5.0 miles at Cottle Trail's 2.9-mile mark, deep in the interior of Calero County Park. Turn left here onto Cottle Trail, to continue running the Ranch San Vicente Loop.
After passing the Cottle Trail junction, Rancho San Vicente Loop runs along Cherry Canyon Creek in its broad grassy creek valley. Calero Reservoir comes into view and after about 0.3 miles along the creek, the reservoir is reached. Cherry Canyon Creek empties into the reservoir here at the reservoir's marshy end of Cherry Cove. From here, the trail goes through wooded and grass sections as it follows the reservoir's western shoreline for the next 1.3 miles. To the right of the trail, the reservoir can be seen below, nestled among the grass and wooded hills of Calero County Park. The trail reaches the end of the reservoir on a hillside above the reservoir dam.
Leaving the reservoir behind, Rancho San Vicente Loop meanders through the grass of a thinly wooded hillside for its next 1.3 miles. The trail is fairly flat here and shaded by oak trees. A trail junction with Lisa Killough Trail is then reached. Turn right here, onto Lisa Killough Trail, for the final 0.6 miles of the Rancho San Vicente Loop, through grass hills. Rancho San Vicente Loop ends at the parking area where it started.
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Land Manager: Santa Clara County Parks