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Aquinas Trail

Intermediate

Trail

3.7 mile 6.0 kilometer point to point
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,355' 413 m
Descent: -52' -16 m
High: 2,517' 767 m
Low: 1,174' 358 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 24% (14°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Map Key

Trail shared by David Hitchcock

A trail leading up through El Sereno Preserve.

David Hitchcock

Features Views · Wildflowers

The preserve is open year-round from dawn until half an hour after sunset.

Description

The Aquinas Trail begins at the park boundary gate at the end of Sheldon Road. The trail enters the woods and climbs gently at first along the hillsides. You pass by a gully where evidence of landslides sit above the trail. As the trail wraps around the hillside, flowers, like shooting stars, can be seen blooming in the spring. The first half mile is full of flowers in the early spring, making it popular for people who love flowers.

The trail begins to climb up the ridge as the woods begin to give way to chaparral environment. The trees give way to an open field where some limited views of the South Bay-area await you. Due to the amount of climbing that this trail does, it's popular with mountain bikers who ride down from the parking area on Montevina Road, so be on the lookout for riders.

At roughly 1.3 miles, the Serenity Trail breaks off to the left and descends to a vista point above Lexington Reservoir, although some of the view is obstructed by power lines and tree growth. The Aquinas Trail continues uphill, now without the cover of forest as it climbs the ridge line. The trail is washed out in a couple of places in the winter thanks to the rain, so watch your step. Off to the left of the trail, you can see the mountains and catch glimpses of Lexington Reservoir and homes that sit on the ridge line outside the preserve.

At roughly 1.9 miles, the Loma Vista Trail breaks off to the right and begins to descend to the park boundary. Because this trail dead-ends at a chain link fence, the best views are in the first 0.1 miles of the trail.

From here, you have roughly two miles to the parking area at the top of Montevina Road. Views continue to improve as you climb, with St. Joseph's Preserve and Lexington Reservoir spreading out before you across CA17. You can admire how far you have come as the trail snakes its way along the ridge below you.

At 2.75 miles, you enter the shade of the woods again for a little bit, so enjoy the break from the sun, especially in the summer. As you wind uphill, views of Cupertino and Campbell sit off to the right at 3.0/3.1 miles. The trail climbs a little more until it reaches a vista, although it is partly obscured by shrubs. The trail begins to descend at 3.5 miles.

At 3.6 miles, the Montevina Ridge Trail goes straight ahead, while the trail cuts back to the left and leads downhill to the parking area alongside Montevina Road. To get back to your car, turn around and enjoy the descent.

Flora & Fauna

There were lots of wildflowers in the spring when I took it. Most of these are found in the first 1.5 miles of the trail, though the wooded and shaded areas. Hawks, turkey vultures, and others birds can be seen flying overhead throughout the day.

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Check-Ins

Mar 10, 2019
Ben Gremillion
Not as much mud here as expected from the recent rains; the trails are more rocks than dirt. Great views of the swelling Lex Reservoir 5mi — 2h 30m

Trail Ratings

  2.7 from 3 votes

#33098

Overall
  2.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
67%
2 Star
33%
1 Star
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Trail Rankings

#3,777

in California

#33,098

Overall
29 Views Last Month
792 Since Mar 18, 2017
Intermediate

0%
67%
33%
0%

Photos

The Aquinas Trail can be seen snaking along the ridge below you in El Sereno Open Space.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
On clear days, the green mountains and the blue of Lexington Reservoir make for great photos, especially late in the day.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
Homes sit right outside the preserve in the hills above Lexington Reservoir.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
The trail moves through a small meadow between the chaparral and the woods.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
Flowers bloom within the first 1.5 miles of the trail. It's great in the early spring.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA
Enjoy copious views of Silicon Valley from the Aquinas Trail.
Mar 22, 2017 near Monte S…, CA

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