Arlene, a local hiker, asked me about the stone walls at Ed Levin County Park. She said she’s been to the park but hasn’t seen the walls. Perhaps she’s among the sane folks who avoid hiking to the heights behind Ed Levin’s Sandy Wool Lake — the summits require 2,000 feet of climb in 3.9 miles, most of it unshaded and wind-blasted. The insane, like yours truly, have enjoyed the benefits of gazing upon these these interesting piles of stone.
Here’s a picture from a few years back.
To reach the walls you have to hike to the Monument Peak summit, about a quarter mile from the intersection of the Monument Peak and Agua Caliente trails. Either trail is a major slog, but the Monument Peak Trail is a little bit easier.
I found them a few years back when a couple hikers asked me if I knew anything about rock walls at the Monument Peak summit. At first I had no idea what they were talking about, then I remembered the piles of stone queued up across the country side and figured that’s what they were looking for. Somebody told them the rocks might’ve been from the pre-Ohlone period (Ohlone were the indigenous people who were run off by the European settlers of California).
Santa Clara County’s brochure for the park says some of the stone walls may have been built by an Amish settler around the turn of the 20th century, but others are a mystery.
If you’re thinking of heading up to take a look at them, they’re pretty easy to find. There’s a huge radio tower near the summit with an old gravel road behind it. When you get to the Monument Peak-Agua Caliente trail junction, bear right on the old road behind the tower (a sign says “keep out” but nobody does; just behave yourself) and stay on it till you get to a flat spot that has some flat concrete areas that used to hold towers. This is the Monument Peak summit.
The rock walls continue southward down the hillside. This is a pretty mean hike in the summer, but not so bad in the winter or during spring wildflower season.
More Ed Levin links:
Hiking to Mission Peak from Ed Levin (lots o’ GPS data here).