El Sereno, meaning 'the serene one' in Spanish, is a broad, flat topped mountain overlooking the towns of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno, just south of San Jose. Its slopes are covered in a mix of forest and dense chaparral. The peak is accessed by fire road that is perfect for hiking or mountain biking. A trip to El Sereno can either be quick and easy, or more challenging and longer. One can drive to the 2,400 foot level on Montevina Road from the south and have only about 200 feet of climbing to do to get to the summit. A longer climb can be done by the trailhead at Sheldon Road from the north. The summit offers a great view of Los Gatos, north to Mt. Tamalpais, and south to the Santa Lucia Range. El Sereno also boasts a number of wildlife species. The summit is frequently visited by birdwatchers. More rare species include rattlesnakes and mountain lions. The trail also is a great mountain biking run that is quite challenging.
El Sereno can be reached by two roads; Sheldon Road from the north, and Montevina Road from the south. Both roads end at a trailhead that lead up to the summit. Montevina Road comes within about 1/2 mile from the summit, and Sheldon Road is a few miles from the summit.
To get to Sheldon Road: From downtown Los Gatos, head up W. Main Street and make a right on Bayview, then a quick left onto Pennsylvania Ave. Continue up Pennsylvania until it ends on Wissahickon Street. Go right and then make a quick left onto Overlook Road. Follow Overlook for about 1/2 mile until Sheldon Road turns left. Go left and Sheldon Road continues steeply up to the gated trailhead. There is parking available for about four cars. Hike/bike through the gate and continue up the steep, switchbacking trail to the summit of El Sereno.
Montevina Road is accessed by Highway 17. From Highway 17, exit at the Bear Creek Road exit. There is a sign for Montevina Road. Follow the sign and the road will travel along the side the freeway for about 100 yards until it heads left and starts the ascent up to El Sereno. Follow the road for 4 miles until it ends at the gated trailhead. Parking is available for about 3 cars. Go through the gate and go up the fireroad. Soon you'll come to a fork. Go right and the road will lead to the broad summit.
El Sereno lies in the El Sereno Open Space Preserve and there are no spacial permits required. The preserve is closed half hour after sunset.
When To Climb
El Sereno can be hiked or biked anytime of the year. Summer temperatures can get very hot, and winter can sometimes bring a small amount of snowfall.
There is no camping allowed in the El Sereno Open Space Preserve.
Fire danger is the only thing that would close El Sereno to hikers and bikers. To check, call the the open space committee at (650) 691-1200 or click here