Today I decided to try something new, since I'm pretty sure I've gone up and down Mission Peak, Mt. Allison, and Monument Peak every possible way now. Looking at Google Earth and talking with Arti, I decided to see how to get up Black Mountain. It's a 2800 foot peak to the west of Mountain View and Los Altos. Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve is the closest park, and provides a great route up.
It took only 15 minutes to get to the RSAOSP parking lot from home. I spotted a ranger at the trail head, and I asked him what the best way to Black Mountain was.
"Do you want to go the normal way, or the most direct way?", he asked.
Today was a direct way sort of day, so he described the path up the PG&E trail (under power lines), then hanging a left at what he called the "Potty Trail" -- an unofficial single track twister that shaves at least a mile off the normal route, then finishing up on the Black Mountain Trail.
In describing the Potty Trail the ranger said, "there's a trail there, and you'll see it, but it's NOT kept to our standards."
Little did he know, this was less a warning and more an endorsement to me!
It was a good hike, covering 12-13 miles out-and back. Lots of shade, and the Potty Trail was definitely the highlight. I got to the top in a bit more than 2 hours, and back down in 1:40, running a good part of the way down.
Here's a screenshot from Google Earth:
<p style="text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thenobot/7058529335/" title="Rancho San Antonio to Black Mountain by thenobot, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5461/7058529335_4c1054a13e_z.jpg" width="640" height="349" alt="Rancho San Antonio to Black Mountain"></a></p> And you can <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=216260364569572714769.0004bd335d878f4d366ae&msa=0&ll=37.324692,-122.117379&spn=0.044911,0.074844">view the path in Google Maps here</a>.