Sierra Vista panorama
Trails and Preserves


Sierra Vista Fire July 14, 2016

A grass fire broke out at about 2:30 a.m. on July 14, 2016 at Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. Thanks to a quick response by the San Jose Fire Department and CAL FIRE, ​the fire was contained and burned only 5 acres. Megan Robinson, Lead Open Space Technician, was onsite at Sierra Vista early that morning and said, "We're grateful that San Jose Fire and CalFire responded to this fire so quickly—it could have been a much more serious incident. We're also grateful to our grazing operators as we believe our grazing practices at Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve helped to reduce fuel loads and prevented the fire from spreading more rapidly." ​The Open Space Authority has a grazing program in place for its open space preserves. Fire safety is important to be aware of, as the danger is very high in this area, especially at this time of year. Please report any suspicious activity that could lead to a fire outbreak. Read more about the grazing practices here.


Boccardo Trail
Boccardo Loop Trail

Nestled in the Eastern foothills of Santa Clara County and perched atop Alum Rock Park is the Open Space Authority's Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve.

This beautiful and scenic Preserve is comprised of 1,676 acres of majestic oak woodlands, rolling grasslands and chaparral communities. The Preserve provides vital watershed protection for Penitencia Creek and is home to a number of protected wildlife species such as the red-legged frog, tiger salamander, golden eagle, mountain lion, bobcat, and grey fox. Cattle grazing with the gentle and beautiful Corriente cattle breed are part of a plan to reduce invasive plants and restore native species.

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve and the 3-mile Boccardo Trail is frequented by over 13,000 trail users annually. The trail system totals over 10 miles and is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a 550-mile regional multi-use trail system planned along the ridge lines that encircle the San Francisco Bay. On a clear day views from the new trails include Penitencia and Arroyo Aguague canyons and Downtown San Jose, to the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay from Mountain View to South San Jose.

On August 23, 2014, the Open Space Authority opened a new public parking area at the top of Sierra Road that offers visitors direct access to the Preserve as well as free parking (including equestrian parking), 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In addition, two new trails opened. The 1.2 mile Aquila Loop Trail offers a mellow hike that is perfect for beginners and families with young children. The 0.25 mile Kestrel Trail begins at the new parking area and connects the Aquila Loop Trail to the Sierra Vista Trail.

Note: There are no bathrooms or water sources within the Preserve. No parking along Sierra Road.

Parking Update: Equestrian parking at Sierra Vista is now by reservation only. Please call the office at 408-224-7476 and make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, and a parking space will be reserved for you


Sierra Vista Trails

Boccardo View
Near the summit

Boccardo Trail
The Boccardo Trail is open to hikers, bikers and equestrians. The new sections of the Sierra Vista Trail and Calaveras Fault Trails are open to hikers and bikers.

The Boccardo Trail (2.7 miles) travels through annual grasslands and a short section of oak woodlands with views of Santa Clara Valley and Mt Hamilton (and on clear winter days San Francisco).  Dominant vegetation in the surrounding view sheds includes chaparral, coast live oak woodlands and sycamore riparian habitats. Sierra Vista’s steepest trail is the western segment of the Boccardo, gaining 896 feet of elevation in 1.1 miles. The hike is moderate to strenuous and has very little shade.

Aquila Loop Trail
The Aquila Loop Trail is open to hikers, cyclists and equestrians.

This 1.2 mile mellow hike is perfect for beginners and families with young children. Enjoy expansive veiws of northern Santa Clara County and Alameda County as you stroll through grasslands and rock outcroppings that once were part of the ocean floor. Stop at one of two benches along the way to take in views and relax, and keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife, such as red-tailed hawks, bobcats and acorn woodpeckers.

Sierra Vista Trail
Sierra Vista Trail (3.2 miles) connects the Boccardo Trail to the Calaveras Fault Trail and traverses the hillside. Views from this trail are of Penitencia and Arroyo Aguague canyons and Downtown San Jose. Trail sections go through annual grasslands and coast live oak woodlands. A segment of Sierra Vista Trail goes through steep cliffs of sedimentary geology showing that this area used to be an ancient seafloor before plate tectonics pushed the land up.

Calavaras Fault Trail
Calaveras Fault Trail (3.3 miles) travels from the Sierra Vista Trail along the Calaveras fault line passing through chaparral, coast live oak woodland, and California Bay Laurel woodland. All 3.3 miles of this trail are part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The Calaveras Fault Trail crosses Upper Penitencia Creek. This is an “out and back” trail with a view of the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay.

To hike all of the trails in the preserve would be a strenuous hike of 14.2 miles.

Boccardo Cow and Calf
Corriente cow and calf

Cattle graze on the property, so please close the gate after entering the trail. The cows are being used to improve grassland habitat for plant and animal diversity. The breed of cattle is Corriente. They have gentle dispositions and are very curious.

If you see cattle on the trail, give them a few minutes to move and then continue on your way. Don’t throw anything at the cows or chase them. They’ll move on their own. Also, don’t moo at cows with calves. Mooing can signal distress or act as a “feed me” cry from the calf.



From 680 exit east onto Berryessa Road. Follow Berryessa to Piedmont Road and turn left. Go right at Sierra Road. The free public parking area and equestrian parking are at the top of Sierra Road, on the right.
Map to Sierra Vista