Mount Umunhum Loop is the king of scenic views in San Jose. It runs through the Siera Azul forest all the way to Mount Umunhum summit.
The Mount Umunhum Loop is an exciting and fun ride. The views on the trail are unmatched. Mount Umunhum means Hummingbird in the Ohlone language, and its summit has an interesting story that makes it a worthy biking adventure. The summit has an eight-story concrete tower that you can spot from almost everywhere in South Bay. The tower held a radar dish operated by the US air force between 1957 and 1980. The base was closed, and the land was sold to the Mid Peninsula Open Space District. Mid-Pen worked to restore the area to its original natural environment but kept the tower. If you bike to the summit, you will see the iconic 86-foot tower.
The Mount Umunhum Loop ride begins at Sierra Azul Open space preserve east entrance, which is at the junction of Hicks Road and Mount Umunhum Road. Get on Mount Umunhum road and ride for about 1.7 miles or until you see the sign on the Mount Umunhum trail on the right side. The first section of the Mount Umunhum trail is a singletrack that runs through the forest with many hairpin switchbacks.
The last 0.2 miles of the singletrack are only open to hikers. We realized bikers are meant to ride the remaining 0.2 miles on a paved road to the summit. The historical open space at the summit was recently opened to the public despite existing for over 30 years because of safety issues. Enjoy the scenic views before going on.
After your well-deserved rest at the summit, descend the Mount Umunhum trail for about 3.2 miles. You will come by a connector trail where the double-track Barlow road begins. Take it and ride for 1.5 miles to join the Woods trail. Brace yourself for a very steep descent on the last section of Barlow Road. It is more than 20% steep.
Take a right turn on the double-track Wood trail and ride it back to the starting point. You will enjoy this fast-flowing and well-shaded section of the trail.
The Mount Umunhum Loop offers fantastic views from the summit. You will get to see the interesting historical 86-foot tower and great views of Silicon Valley. If you ride in good weather, you can see everything up to San Francisco, the Pacific Ocean, and Monterey Bay.
Moreover, since the summit is one of the highest peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains, you will get epic views of all the mountains in the area, including Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton.
When riding through the Sierra Azul forest, you will see serpentine grasslands, bay trees, riparian corridors, deep ravines, shaded oak woodland forests, and rocky and steep chaparral. The Sierra Azul Preserve is also home to mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, and deer.