Even with the weather looking more New Zealand (changeable with a constant chance of precip) than California (sunny) we decided to press on with a tramp/hike/mud bowl with little regard to the ominous clouds on the horizon. Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve is a lightly used area that stretches from Lexington reservoir in the west to a border with Almaden Quicksilver in the east. You could stretch a 14 mile 4000′ hike inside its expansive boundaries (Lollipop Loop). Unfortunately per situation normal we got a later start than anticipated and the weather was not looking good so we ultimately ended up choosing the shorter 9.4 mile Limekiln Loop route.
The hike starts at Lexington Reservoir beyond the dam at a very non-descript pullout. Its just past the turn for the quarry and has room for 3-4 cars well removed from the road. Anyhow its a march straight up the canyon with a view of the quarry road. It’s definitely a track that’s in a rush to reach its maximum elevation. Nothing Half Dome like but much more ‘up’ than originally anticipated and with extra layers for rain I was soaking on the inside. Once you hit the ridgeline there are some great views of Los Gatos and Lexington reservoir with some views of the South Bay when the trees permit. We took a nice quick lunch at the top of the hill and proceeded to freeze our arses off. So a quick energy refill with a Snickers and back on the trail.
We got a nice consistent mist of rain the rest of the way and I was a bit worried how the GPS (waterproof rated) would handle it, but it appears to take to water like an otter although in retrospect I needed to recharge the batteries. Once you hit the ridge the trail meanders up and down with some steep inclines much more than you would expect on a ridge trail. Views were phenomenal even with the bad weather.
The return part of the loop is less spectacular as your only view is of peoples houses across the valley. Interesting side note I nearly stepped on 5 salamanders as the wet weather brought the little slimy guys out from the woods, I thought they were neato hadn’t seen any since my Boy Sprout days. A great 5 hours to spend outdoors even in the rain!
Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation: 2400 ft
Duration: 4 hrs 24 min