Information about St. Joseph's O.S.P.

One of the distinctive scenic backdrops to the Town of Los Gatos is the 267-acre St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve, which provides a quick escape from the nearby urban areas of the southern peninsula. Its four miles of sometimes steep trails wind through grassland, chaparral, and oak woodland, offering an interesting variety of environments and opportunities for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and walking your dog. At the eastern edge of the preserve, the top of 1,250 foot St. Joseph's Hill features panoramic views of the Santa Clara Valley, Lexington Reservoir, and the impressive Sierra Azul mountain range.

The popular Jones Trail connects Novitiate Park in Los Gatos to St. Joseph's Hill, then to Santa Clara County's Lexington Reservoir County Park. A portion of the Jones Trail follows the historic alignment of Jones Road, which was used in the last century by stage coaches and pack teams. This was an important route, bringing people, supplies, and equipment over the precipitous St. Joseph's Hill and then down into Los Gatos. The first recorded travel through this area was in 1791 by the California mission founders. However, there is strong speculation that the native Ohlone people used the same route to cross the valley, perhaps as much as thousands of years ago.

The Jesuits first lived atop St. Joseph's Hill in 1888, finding an isolated and serene area where they could study, pray, harvest grapes, and make wine. In fact, observant visitors will note the remnants of abandoned vineyards on the upper slopes of St. Joseph's Hill -- a reminder of the Novitiate's wine-making history. The purchase of St. Joseph's Hill in 1982 was a joint project of the Open Space District and the Town of Los Gatos. Today, St. Joseph's Hill is a popular destination, offering trails that will challenge hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Leashed dogs are permitted on all trails at this preserve.

Werner Hager at
Last updated February 24, 2000.
Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by Werner W. Hager and Micromoms. All rights reserved.