Santa Clara County Parks

Exploring the Bay Area Gem that Is Mt. Madonna

It is a shame — nay, a downright sin — to be in all the natural grandeur of California’s Bay Area and not want to spend time outdoors. The majestic Santa Cruz mountain range and its awe-inspiring redwood forests should be enough to tempt the worst agoraphobic to sample the community of nature. For the avid camper, Mt. Madonna is a little known treasure that outdoor enthusiasts in the region frequent and possessively enjoy like a closely guarded guilty secret.

Mt. Madonna is one of the most beautiful recreation areas falling under Santa Clara County Parks. It spans 3,688 acres with a panoramic view of Santa Clara Valley on the east side and Monterey Bay on the other side. The redwoods of the mountain shift to a growth of oak woodland, thick chaparral, and grassy meadows toward the foot meeting the valley. Once upon a time, the Ohlone Indians hunted, gathered, and harvested in the area.

The road to this gorgeous piece of natural California is winding and twisty. Dedicated campers are likely already familiar with this haven. Nearby residents certainly enjoy the park as much as they can. Mt. Madonna County Park is divided into four campgrounds with campsites occurring at sufficient distances so that campers don’t crowd each other, especially if they’re looking for some alone time. Campsites come with a fire ring, a picnic table, a food locker, as well as access to bathrooms with showers.

Mt. MadonnaTan Oak Campground is said to be the best one for tent camping in Mt. Madonna. There are no RV campsites available, so those longing to do away with modern conveniences for the interim won’t have to deal with the frustration of having a generator running all day and night. Valley View Campground, on the other hand, does accommodate RVs with provisions for hooking up to the water and power lines.

You don’t need to stay overnight to enjoy the park. There are shaded picnic tables scattered throughout the place as well as self-guided nature trails for those who have gone up just for the day. One of the trails leads to the ruins of the summer home of legendary cattle baron Henry Miller. Besides these, Mt. Madonna also has stables offering horseback trail rides, a gorgeous archery range for bowmen to hone their skills, an amphitheater for shows and other functions, as well as a visitor center for information on the area’s natural history, cultural history, and geology.

Mt. Madonna is managed by Santa Clara County Parks, which is dedicated to providing excellent recreational opportunities in lovely natural locations. It is also currently one of the largest park systems in the entire state of California. Its dedicated ranger, maintenance, and interpretive staff are committed to being responsible stewards and providing a first rate park experience to visitors.