Backpackers, horseback riders and bicyclists trekking through the Santa Cruz Mountains could soon zoom between two large parks on the southernmost edge of Santa Clara County.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will vote on what is set to ultimately become a multi-use trail connection between Uvas Reservoir County Park to the north and Mt. Madonna County Park to the south. The trail rights for the 735 acres of land sandwiched between the two parks — roughly five times the size of the county’s fairgrounds — will cost the county $1.25 million.
The trail would wriggle through the roughly 5 mile north to the south gap, connecting 5,622 acres of county parkland altogether. It’s completion date is unknown, according to the county.
The land itself is set to be purchased by the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency at a total cost of $7 million from the Bates family, who own a nearby vineyard and a mid-century home designed by renowned local architect William Wurster. That 100-acre portion of land located in the southwestern part of the property will be retained by the family.
The sale is set to close between March and June of 2023, according to Tim Heffington, a real estate agent for the county’s Parks and Recreation Department. Other agencies contributing funds include the Peninsula Open Space Trust, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Palo Alto-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. If funding falls through, Heffington said the county is willing to make the purchase with their own funds.
Uvas Reservoir Park came under the county’s Parks and Recreation control in 1960, while Mt. Madonna was first purchased in 1927 and later expanded over the course of three decades. Mt. Madonna’s 1,897-foot peak was named by poet and pioneer Hiram Wentworth, who lived in the area in the late 1800s, according to the county.
The two parks include redwood forests, grassy meadows and a reservoir with trout and large mouth bass. Hikers can see black tailed deer, the California grey squirrel and bobcats roaming the area.
In addition to the Uvas Reservoir-Mt. Madonna connection, the county is also set to create a short trail 15 miles to the north that would connect Santa Teresa County Park and Santa Teresa Blvd. The Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency purchased the $1.2 million, 17-acre parcel of land in November and is set to split the cost equally with the county and Peninsula Open Space Trust.
Ownership of both the lands surrounding Uvas Reservoir, Mt. Madonna and Santa Teresa County Park will eventually be transferred over to the county, said Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency Executive Officer Edmund Sullivan.
The trail linkage is part of the county’s larger goal to try to make connections between all of its county parks. The county purchased land in 2016 with the ultimate intention of linking Harvey Bear Ranch and Anderson Lake Park. In March, the county purchased a 47-acre, $8.5 million sliver of land to connect Santa Teresa and Calero County Parks.