OverviewBlack Mountain is the highest point of the long, foliage-covered ridge that forms the western backdrop of the cities of Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, and Mountain View. It is not very prominent in appearance, although there are several antennae at the top of the mountain.
Getting ThereThere are various approaches for hiking this mountain. Here are several options:
Rhus Ridge Trailhead
This trailhead is located in Los Altos Hills, at an elevation of 560 feet above sea level. The climb is very straightforward. It is about 4.8 miles to the top. You hike 0.9 miles up the Rhus Ridge trail (fairly steep uphill), and then you turn right on the Black Mountain trail (which is a bit gentler) and hike 3.9 miles to the top. Once you cross through the trailhead gate by the antennae at the top, you will encounter an intersection with another trail. Turn right toward Monte Bello Road, DO NOT turn left (A ranger almost gave me a ticket when I made this mistake. He mentioned something about trespassing). After you turn right, walk shortly and you will get to another intersection with Monte Bello Rd, which is actually a fireroad. Turn left here, and ascend a very short distance and you will see an open meadow with a bunch of rocky outcroppings on the right. This is the summit, and there is a USGS marker located on one of the rocks. Return the same way.
Getting there: From Interstate 280, take El Monte Avenue exit westbound, toward Foothill College. Pass Foothill College, and you will take a sharp left to get on Moody Road. Drive about 1/2 a mile, and turn left on Rhus Ridge Rd. Follow the road all the way to the end, where there is the trailhead and parking.
Rancho San Antonio County Park Trailhead
This trailhead is at the extremely popular trail-running and hiking park of Rancho San Antonio. Parking here on a busy weekend morning can be almost impossible, and I have seen some heated exchanges and honking of horns over stolen parking spaces. If you park here, you are looking at a much longer outing than by using the Rhus Ridge Trailhead. There is a much longer approach. For your average hiker, it is probably a good 1.5 to 1.75 hours of hiking before reaching the beginning of the 3.9-mile ascent up the Black Mountain Trail.
Getting there: From Interstate 280, take the Foothill Expressway exit, and head south (there are brown signs directing you to Rancho San Antonio). Turn right at next light, at Cristo Rey Dr. Within a mile or so, you will drive through a small roundabout, and you want to take the second exit from that (the third exit takes you to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery. You want to avoid that!) Drive less than 1/4 mile and then turn left into the park entrance. Follow the road all the way down to the main parking lot where the large bathrooms are located in the center of the parking area.
Begin hiking at the northwesternmost corner of the parking lot. Cross a bridge over a small creek, and turn right onto the Permanente Creek Trail. After you pass the tennis courts on your left, you turn left, and shortly you will see a sign that signifies that you are leaving Rancho San Antonio County Park and entering Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. Follow this trail all the way to Deer Hollow Farm, a small farm that is often open to the public for viewing. As you pass this farm on the left, keep going straight on the Rogue Valley Trail. You will get to a small pond and a junction with a trail that goes right. Take this right turn (toward Chamise Trail) and you will climb for 0.2 miles. When you get to the next junction, turn left onto the Chamise Trail. From this point, it is 2.1 miles of undulating-to-hilly terrain to the junction with Black Mountain Trail. At this point, you go left onto Black Mountain Trail, where it is 3.9 miles to the top. It is about 8.4 miles to the top from the start of the hike.
Red TapeAdd Red Tape text here.
CampingNo camping is permitted.
External LinksRancho San Antonio County Park This is where you park for the Rancho San Antonio County Park Approach.
Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve This is the open space preserve you will enter before ascending Black Mountain.
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve This open space preserve has mountain biking trails that can connect you with Page Mill Rd., for a good mountain biking journey.
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