South Bay Visitor Trail Recommendation for 2 hour ride before sunset- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    South Bay Visitor Trail Recommendation for 2 hour ride before sunset

    In summary... I'm from the Oakland area and ride Marin, East Bay and upper peninsula. No experience at all with South Bay trails.

    Work is bringing me down to Los Gatos for the day this Friday, wrapping up work around 3 to 4, so figured that instead of sitting in traffic back up to Oakland, I might as well check out some trails in the area.

    What do you guys recommend if i'll be solo, completely unfamiliar with the area, have time from 4 to 7ish (before sunset), intermediate rider, doesn't make my drive back to Oakland significantly worse...

    Considerations so far:
    - St Joe's (easiest to get to from where i'll be, easy trails)
    - Demo (Is this possible time wise, for a first timer?)
    - Santa Teresa (kind of along my route back home but a bit out of way)
    - Saratoga Gap, JNT all seem a bit out of the way

    Any input is much appreciated; even better if you can give me a quick loop recommendation! Thanks and happy trails.

  2. #2
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    St. Joe's is not very interesting, and they issue tickets for speeding and not wearing your helmet...

    Demo is a bit too far for your time frame and you will have to fight commute traffic on 17 to the summit.

    JNT is close to Los Gatos if you park at the lower lot. You get on 17 southbound (traffic) for 1 exit, then up a windy road (no traffic) for a few miles.

    Santa Teresa is fun, but way too far south from LG and you will fight traffic the whole way.

    Here is one alternate that does not involve your car: Ride on the road from Los Gatos up Kennedy Road to the top (20 minutes), then on dirt for an hour up through Sierra Azul, then down to Lexington Reservoir via the Limekiln Trail. Then 1/4 mile of road to the dam. From here go up through St Joe's or down to the LG creek trail (paved and gravel) for a couple of miles back to town.

  3. #3
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    Given Highway 17 traffic, Demo is probably a no-go
    JNT is 20 minutes from Los Gatos, shady
    Gap and Santa Teresa are out of the way, especially given traffic

    I recommend St Joe's to Limekiln (Overgrown), down Priest Rock and back to Los Gatos.
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  4. #4
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    St Joes is nothing but a fireroad workout. Has a nice view from the top though.

    Demo is not possible at that hour.

    Santa Teresa is good if you want a new experience. Rocky Ridge and Stiles are unique trails to the bay area. lot's of fire roads too if you like that.

    JNT is really nice if not technical at all. Also has a good view of the south bay from near the top. This is the one I'd recommend. Saratoga Gap is probably a good option too.

  5. #5
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    Drive up Highway 35 a bit further and ride Skeggs from 4:30 till sunset. You'll be that much closer to Oakland on the way home. Don't get lost after 7pm, it gets dark fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Drive up Highway 35 a bit further and ride Skeggs from 4:30 till sunset. You'll be that much closer to Oakland on the way home. Don't get lost after 7pm, it gets dark fast.
    Skeggs is great. But frankly I think it could be a bit creepy to ride it solo at dusk for the first time. You're likely not hitting the trail until 5pm if you leave Los Gatos at 4, and while sun technically doesn't set until 8pm this week, it'll be getting quite dim back there well before that. Also easy to get lost, and you're parking at the top, and it's a long climb back out on most routes. Great riding though.

    You might consider Water Dog as an alternative. Demo it is not, but it's single track and right off the 280 and/or 92. Almost zero additional commute back to Oakland regardless of which bridge you want to take. Plus, it's pretty back there, and there are some fun DH sections.

    Here's my normal post-work route: https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/6744964/ (8 miles).

    You can add a mile of fun single track with Headbangers Ball (https://www.trailforks.com/trails/he...s-ball-156731/) or try your luck on the big hits across the street at Carlmont (https://www.trailforks.com/region/carlmont-hills/)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by xtrwin View Post
    Skeggs is great. But frankly I think it could be a bit creepy to ride it solo at dusk for the first time. You're likely not hitting the trail until 5pm if you leave Los Gatos at 4, and while sun technically doesn't set until 8pm this week, it'll be getting quite dim back there well before that. Also easy to get lost, and you're parking at the top, and it's a long climb back out on most routes. Great riding though.

    You might consider Water Dog as an alternative. Demo it is not, but it's single track and right off the 280 and/or 92. Almost zero additional commute back to Oakland regardless of which bridge you want to take. Plus, it's pretty back there, and there are some fun DH sections.

    Here's my normal post-work route: https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/6744964/ (8 miles).

    You can add a mile of fun single track with Headbangers Ball (https://www.trailforks.com/trails/he...s-ball-156731/) or try your luck on the big hits across the street at Carlmont (https://www.trailforks.com/region/carlmont-hills/)
    Yeah, I should preface that with DO NOT GET LOST! It is creepy, when dark. And it gets so dark there you can't see your hand in front of your face.

    Here's something that's really, really useful: https://www.avenzamaps.com/maps/how-it-works.html There is a detailed map of Skeggs that works on iPhone, even out of cell range, as it's GPS based. This is very useful.

    +1 on WaterDog. Can't get lost and some good intermediate riding.

  8. #8
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    Nothing creepy about Skeggs, ride down single track and up the fire roads which are easier to follow. Take a backup light. It'll be exciting!

  9. #9
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    Another vote for JNT. If you're a strong climber you might have to time to do an out-n-back on the Skyline s/t, just take a right at the split at the top of JNT.
    Ride fast. Huck bravely. Waste no beer. Safety third.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the suggestions fellas. I should have noted that I'm at Water Dog weekly, so looking to spread my wings further out of the area. Haven't been to Skeggs but I'll reserve that for another day with company since it's a bigger ride.

    Definitely going to consider the other options. Also, if I decide to run by TrailHead Cyclery prior to the ride, am I looking at sitting in major traffic to go from downtown Los Gatos to THC? It looks as though my best bet if I do stop by, is to head over to Fremont Older? Hopefully it's not blazing hot out there Friday.

    Thanks for the help all.

  11. #11
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    Do you have a GPS unit you can follow? I can set you up with a route looping out from Los Gatos that may not be the most epic of rides but will show you every nook and cranny of my neighborhood. If you like weird adventures, let me know and I'll PM you something.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Yeah, I should preface that with DO NOT GET LOST! It is creepy, when dark. And it gets so dark there you can't see your hand in front of your face.

    Here's something that's really, really useful: https://www.avenzamaps.com/maps/how-it-works.html There is a detailed map of Skeggs that works on iPhone, even out of cell range, as it's GPS based. This is very useful.

    +1 on WaterDog. Can't get lost and some good intermediate riding.
    Wow, avenzamaps is super cool. Thanks for that!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott M View Post
    Do you have a GPS unit you can follow? I can set you up with a route looping out from Los Gatos that may not be the most epic of rides but will show you every nook and cranny of my neighborhood. If you like weird adventures, let me know and I'll PM you something.
    I don't actually have a GPS unit available but thanks for the offer. Appreciate it!

  14. #14
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    With this heat wave I may need to alter Friday plans anyways and get out of the South Bay.

  15. #15
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    It was suppose to be a bit cooler today but still hit upper 90s in the Los Gatos area. Too hot for my taste... ended up popping my head into THC for some bike service and then up 280 back to one one of my usual spots, Water Dog. Will try something new in the South Bay when it gets cooler. Nevertheless, thanks all for the suggestions.

    It was crazy how the weather went from upper 90s in Los Gatos, then mid/lower 90s going up 280 around Palo Alto... by the time I got back to 92 and Water Dog, my car actually registered mid/upper 70s. Actually felt like I needed another layer on my ride.

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