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 about 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.
Currently, Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve is only accessible thorugh Alum Rock City Park, and some sections of the new Sierra Vista trails are dual-use only (hikers and bicyclists). Sierra Vista Preserve is open from 8am to sunset, no dogs allowed.There is no fee to use Sierra Vista OSP, however Alum Rock Park can charge $6.00 per vehicle on weekends to park within their lot. No bathrooms, water sources or parking areas are located within the Sierra Vista preserve.
Note: Sierra Vista is only accesible through Alum Rock Park, which is closed on Mondays. There is no parking along the roadside of Sierra Road.
Sierra Vista Trails
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.
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.
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 12.7 miles along with another 1.8 miles of trail within Alum Rock Park.
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.
Map to Sierra Vista