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Priest Rock Trail



4.0 mile 6.4 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,938' 591 m
Descent: -100' -31 m
High: 2,605' 794 m
Low: 768' 234 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)


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Trail shared by Joan Pendleton

A fire road trail that climbs into the Santa Cruz Mountains from Lexington Reservoir.

Joan Pendleton

Features Views


The Priest Rock Trail is basically an uphill climb of about 2,000 feet over four miles.

The Priest Rock Trail starts at Alma Bridge Road on the east side of Lexington Reservoir. The east side shore of Lexington Reservoir is a steep, wooded hillside. Priest Rock Trail begins by climbing this steep hillside. Although the trail is wooded, Lexington Reservoir can be seen below, through the trees. After a couple of swichbacks, the trail levels out for a short stretch.

Priest Rock Trail then veers away from Lexington Reservoir, and heads straight into the Santa Cruz Mountains. As the trail veers away from Lexington Reservoir, it starts climbing again to get to a ridge top. The trail emerges from the woods into dense brush. Once on the ridge, the climb lessens and then there is a short, slight descent to where it crosses the Limekiln Trail about 2.5 miles from the trailhead. From the ridge, there are views in all directions. Another ridge across a creek valley can be seen to the left. Several ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains can be seen to the right.

After crossing Limekiln Trail, Priest Rock Trail starts climbing again through the brush, along the ridge top. Eventually, the Priest Rock Trail ridge joins its neighboring ridges, at a higher ridge that they all intersect. Specifically, Priest Rock Trail makes a final steeper climb to a spot that looks directly down the valley that had been to its left up until now. Here, four miles from its trailhead, Priest Rock Trail ends at Kennedy Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Wooded, brush. Deer.

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Oct 4, 2019
Phal Muong
Parked at the gate — 10h 26m
Jul 7, 2019
Michelle Kiang
Mar 4, 2018
Jennifer W
Feb 10, 2018
Neil Mukherjee
Jan 28, 2018
Qian Pietila
Dec 16, 2017
Jason Willebeek-LeMair
Hiked to Kennedy trail. 8mi
Feb 23, 2017
Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  3.4 from 5 votes


  3.4 from 5 votes
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in California


79 Views Last Month
3,120 Since Feb 23, 2017



Hills and the Santa Cruz Mountains stand on the far side of Lexington Reservoir in the distance. The Priest Rock Trail meanders along a ridge-top on the left. This is looking west from near the top of the Priest Rock Trail.
Feb 24, 2017 near Lexingt…, CA
Enjoy a bird's-eye view of Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and the surrounding hills. Most of this video was taken at the intersection of the Kennedy and Priest Rock trails.
Mar 1, 2017 near Lexingt…, CA
This is the northwest shoulder of Mt. Thayer, with the ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains behind it. This is looking southeast from Priest Rock Trail.
Feb 24, 2017 near Lexingt…, CA
Looking down at the Lexington Reservoir from the Priest Rock Trail.
Jun 11, 2017 near Los Gatos, CA
With a brush-covered ridge to the northeast, the Priest Rock Trail climbs in the distance to end at the Kennedy Trail.
Feb 24, 2017 near Lexingt…, CA
Climbing into the Santa Cruz Mountains on Priest Rock Trail, enjoy this view of Mt. Thayer, the highest point in the distance.
Feb 24, 2017 near Lexingt…, CA


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