can be done in either direction. As described here, this hike goes from the southeast corner of Mt. Madonna County Park, to the center of the park close to many park facilities and the Mt. Madonna summit. Going in this direction, the trail start is found by taking Merry-Go-Round Trail
for 0.2 miles from the parking area at the southeast corner of the park. After hiking 0.2 miles on Merry-Go-Round Trail
, go left at the signpost that marks the start of Ridge Trail
is a wide fire road style trail that climbs continuously over its entire length. It goes from the eastern edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, to within a stone's throw of Mt. Madonna's summit (1,900 feet.), on the spine of these mountains.
starts out in the forest on the drier east side of the mountains. Although it is forested, this is not a redwood forest here. As the trail climbs, the steep sided valley of Blackhawk Canyon drops off to the left (south), and the forested ridge rises to the right. The trail briefly pops out of the forest into an open brushy stretch from the 0.5 - 0.9 mile mark to reveal great views of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the east. The Diablo Range can also be seen very faintly in the far distance to the east, across Santa Clara Valley, at the highest point of this open stretch around the 0.9 mile mark.
Continuing on, Ridge Trail
re-enters forest and remains in the forest to the trail end. As the trail climbs, its climate gets moister, most likely because of the coastal fog that comes over the spine of the mountains from the Pacific Ocean to the west, and cloaks the higher altitudes on the eastern side. Redwoods start to appear as the moisture increases, scarce at first, and dominating the forest by the end of the hike.
passes several trails on its way up Mt. Madonna - Tie Camp Trail
at the 0.9 mile mark, and Loop Trail
and Iron Springs Trail
at the 2.0 mile mark. After Iron Springs Trail
, the park trail map labels the trail Ridge Road. However, all the signposts along the trail still mark it as Ridge Trail
. Regardless, motor vehicles can be seen after Iron Springs Trail
, as one passes a parking area on the right, and the Archery Range on the left.
ends at the paved park road after 2.6 miles. There is a sign at this junction pointing the way onto Ridge Road. So if one wants to hike Ridge Trail
from here, opposite the direction of this description, go right at this Ridge Road sign to get on Ridge Trail
Beautiful mixed redwood forest. Deer live here.