Stevens Creek from the source

Stevens Canyon and San Andreas Fault Hike

I want to learn more about creeks near us. Last week I hiked along a nearby creek, Stevens Creek. Stevens Creek starts in the hills west of the Santa Clara Valley.

Our hike is shown on the terrain map below. We started at the source of Stevens Creek (the left-most orange balloon), hiked down a valley (next two orange balloons) into Stevens Canyon (the yellow balloon). A one-way hike, we parked a car at the bottom, drove to the top, hiked down the valley and into the canyon, and drove back to the top to retrieve the car. The 8-mile hike took 3 hours, with an elevation loss of 1400′.

map of Stevens Canyon hike
map of Stevens Canyon hike

We started the hike at Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, 30 minutes from Stanford University. Posted signs warn us about ticks, poison oak, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. “IF ATTACKED, FIGHT BACK”, the sign says. But until then, relax and have a good time!

Monte Bello trail head
Monte Bello trail head

The trail winds down a valley formed by Stevens Creek, with Mt. Umunhum and Loma Prieta in the distance. In this valley, Stevens Creek follows the San Andreas Fault. Loma Prieta was the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake that damaged and closed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Stevens Canyon lies ahead of us down in the fog bank.

Stevens Creek from the source
Stevens Creek from the source

We passed this field of ferns and redwood trees. As you can see, the grass is dry in August. We get little or no rain from April to September.

ferns and redwoods
ferns and redwoods

Down in the canyon we hiked on Stevens Canyon Road and saw this shaded pool. Although we’ve had no rain for months, water emerges from springs.

shaded pool
shaded pool

Ferns cover this wall of the canyon.

canyon with ferns
canyon wall with ferns

We reached our car and took pictures. From our car to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino is a 15-minute drive. We marveled that we have this kind of open space so close to us.

We saw no other hikers during our hike. You need to be careful while walking on Stevens Canyon Road, especially when walking around a blind bend. There are cars and bicycles on the road, which is narrow with minimal shoulders in the canyon.

The map is a screenshot of a map from Adobe Lightroom. I use Lightroom to view, sort, and resize photos. The camera has GPS and saves photo locations. Lightroom displays the photo locations on the map. You can see that the trail and the road follow a valley.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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