From the San Jose Mercury News, September 2007
You may forget you came here to hike.
On the way to the trails at Hidden Villa, you’re apt to pass pigs, cows, chickens, goats and thriving organic gardens. It’s borderline impossible to resist the urge to pause and check out the agrarian flora and fauna.
Miles of trails: 8-plus
Fees: $5 to park.
Hours: 8 a.m. to dusk, Tuesday through Sunday (it’s open now, but it’s often closed to the public during the summer months, when youth day-camps are in session).
Limitations: No dogs or bikes; horses allowed on some trails.
Driving directions: Take Highway 280 to the El Monte/Moody Road exit.
Follow signs to El Monte Road West and Foothill College; drive past the college. At first stop sign, turn left onto Moody Road, continue for 1.7 miles. Entrance is on the left.
Tucked away in Los Altos Hills, Hidden Villa is a privately owned 1,800-acre organic farm and nature preserve. A non-profit foundation owns the land and conducts summer camps and educational programs throughout the year.
Trails at the lower elevations of Hidden Villa have a dense tree cover – which means shady and cool all year. The higher trails open onto scenic vistas of the Santa Clara Valley and the nearby hills, but the open views translate into stifling hiking on hot, sunny days. The trails are well marked and well-maintained, and most zigzag gradually up the hillsides to ease the leg burn while climbing.
Standard precautions: Most of the trails are single-tracks, which means the poison oak will be nearby. There are mountain lions in these woods, and while your odds of seeing one are slight, you need to keep small children nearby all the time, just to be extra safe.
Easy: The Creek Trail is a gradual climb for about a mile along Adobe Creek – with lovely sounds of tumbling water in the winter and spring, then a stillness in summer and fall after the water flow dries up.
Moderate: The Hostel Trail takes switchbacks up a hillside for about a mile and has excellent valley views along the way. For a shorter, 2.3-mile loop, return on the Grapevine Trail to the Adobe Creek Trail. For a longer loop of about 4 miles, continue to the Black Mountain Trail in the neighboring Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve and return via the Ewing Hill trail.
Hard: For a rugged 10-mile out-and-back, take the Hostel Trail to Black Mountain Trail and head up to the peak of Black Mountain; on clear days, you can see the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay and all of Silicon Valley.
View Larger Map (Click on “A” for driving directions)