Loma Prieta

January 9, 2022


San Jose, CA

Loma Prieta is the Spanish name of the highest summit in Santa Cruz Mountains in central California’s coastal ranges, guarding the city of San Jose from the south side. This peak boasts over 1000 m prominence and that’s the sole reason why I even noticed it on the maps. It was Rob Woodall who actually reminded me there’s “one easy P1000m in California’s coast” and it didn’t take me long to figure out it’s actually this peak in the close proximity to San Jose. A quick research showed that I could easily tag this peak as a side trip while driving the long ass way back towards Canada. The ascent from the gate on the south side would take no more than 2 hours round trip by simply following the road and my plan was to get there around sunrise for a quick bag.

Through the previous night I pushed from Bakersfield northwards then westwards over Diablo Range to Gilroy, then northwards to the vicinity of San Jose. I drove around the city to the west side of an area known as Sierra Azul and followed Google’s direction onto the winding, but paved road up towards Loma Prieta. It was still in a pitch dark when I turned onto these narrow roads so I drove with care. The road condition was rough with a shit ton of pot-holes and some extremely narrow stretches. The higher I drove to the worse the road was. Eventually I made to the gate about 20 minutes before sunrise. The gate was open, so I drove another kilometer or two to the next intersection. I did not want this peak to be entirely a drive-up, so opted to park and walk the rest.

Loma Prieta via the standard road-walk. GPX DL

Right off the bat I took the wrong spur but soon realized the mistake. I backtracked to the truck and found the correct spur heading for the summit. I timed it perfectly to get here for sunrise as the views looking east was quite spectacular. The walk to the summit was rather uneventful. I did not even bother to take a backpack as it’s such a short walk. The views from the actual summit was not too inspiring thank to the large communication structures but that’s as good as I could expect from this dumpster-ish peak.

Pre-dawn view of the hills and the Californian coastal plants
The sunrise behind Diablo Range
Another photo of the sunrise behind a tree
The west side view and the morning horizon
The ascent was nothing fancier than plodding up this road
The golden morning sun about 15 minutes later
The road walk.. Upward and onward…
The summit structure was visible ahead
The road traversed to the south ridge, now looking south
Mt. Umunhum is another taller peak in Santa Cruz Mountains
The city of San Jose down in that plain
Me on the summit of Loma Prieta
The ugly structures inside the fence

After having enough of the photos I quickly walked down to the truck. I was hungry so had a breakfast while sitting in the truck. To my surprise someone else drove up from the east side but did not bother to fuss with me. I quickly followed that guy to drive out of this place, in case he was here to close the gate. I then carefully negotiated the winding roads back to sea level, drove across the city of San Jose and moved on towards Copernicus Peak.

The Pacific Ocean is not far away
As much as the descent went…