El Sombroso is the highest point on the main front-end ridge that rises above the Almaden Valley area of San Jose. It is the highest legally accessible summit in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. El Sombroso offers great views of surrounding mountains including Mt Umunhum
and Mt Thayer, as well has decent views of San Jose. El Sombroso is climbed a fair amount but you will not see many people at the summit. The shortest way of getting to the top involves steep, rocky, fire-road hiking.
There are several entrances to the park that will reach El Sombroso.
To get to the Hicks Rd entrance of the park, start at the intersection of Shannon Rd and Los Gatos Blvd. Start out going east on Shannon Rd toward Robie Ln for about 1 mile. Turn right to stay on Shannon Rd and go for about 2.2 miles. Once you reach Hicks Rd turn right on Hicks and keep going for about 6 miles until you reach the intersection of Mt Umunhum Rd and Hicks Rd. Turn right on Mt Umunhum Rd and the SAOSP staging area is visible. To get to the summit from here, look at the Woods Trail Route
To get to the Kennedy Rd entrance you will, again, be starting at the intersection of Shannon Rd and Los Gatos Blvd. Start out going east on Shannon Rd toward Robie Ln for about 1 mile. Turn right to stay on Shannon Rd and go for about 1.5 miles until you reach Kennedy Rd. Turn right on Kennedy and keep going for a little over a mile and the entrance will be a gate on the left-hand side of the road. To get to the summit from here, look at the Kennedy Trail Route
The last entrance is the Alma Bridge Road entrance. Starting from going south on Highway 17 at the intersection of 17 and Highway 9 from Los Gatos drive for about 2.9 miles and exit on Bear Creek Rd. Cross 17 on the overpass and get back on 17 heading north. Drive north for about 0.4 miles and get off on Alma Bridge Rd. Drive on Alma Bridge Rd for about 1.6 miles and the staging area will be on the right-hand side of the road. To get to the summit from here, look at the Priest Rock Trail Route
or the Limekiln Trail Route
is a map that shows all four routes and all of SAOSP.
No permits or fees are required to hike in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. Parking is free at the all of the trailheads. The park does close at 30 minutes after sundown so you will probably want to get an early start depending on the length of the hike your planning. The major rules are the obvious: don't litter, stay on the trails, and leave the animals alone.
When To Climb
El Sombroso can be hiked year-round. SAOSP doesn't get any extreme weather so you would be fine with a sweatshirt in the winter and a t-shirt in the summer. Rainy days are about all you have to look out for. Going up on a clear day is best as with any mountain.
Camping is not allowed in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.