Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hike // Pichetti Ranch, Zinfandel Trail

pichetti ranch
two stars

The Zinfandel Trail happens to be the perfect analogy for its namesake wine varietal. Zinfandel wine is bright and easy to drink, without being too soft, it’s a classic crowd pleaser wine. It’s just nice all around. At 3.8 miles there is nothing beefy about the Zinfandel Trail, but the 350 foot elevation gain in the first mile feels like more than just a warmup. The big views are not outstanding but rambling through moss covered oak forest is nothing if not charming. It’s nice all around.

Hike Summary
Difficulty Easy
Distance 3.0 Miles
Popularity Quiet
Peak Season All
Fees None

The Zinfandel Trail officially begins at the Pichetti Winery near the main parking lot but I prefer a loop variant which begins at a small trailhead along Stevens Creek Blvd. Beginning from this trailhead allows you to end your hike in Stevens Creek County Park where the trail ends and hike a short distance along the road (be very careful doing this of course, it is inherently dangerous) or along the shore of the reservoir. This way there is no need to backtrack over ground you’ve already covered.

California Live Oak hanging over the Zinfandel Trail

Pichetti Ranch perfectly fits the bill for a short, shady, quiet, ramble-for-a-sunday-afternoon, close to the heart of Silicon Valley. The park is generally very quiet and a lovely retreat from the urban world. No crowds, easy drive, nice hike. It’s a winner.

Fence along the Zinfandel Trail in Stevens Creek County Park

The first mile of the hike climbs the Bear Meadow Trail. The single track footpath winds its way up through chaparral and sparse oak forest before joining the Orchard Loop Trail. The portion is south facing and pretty open, so it can be toasty in the summer. The rest of the hike is nicely shaded though. Either direction from the junction leads to the Zinfandel Trail, a right takes you on the full loop, a left leads more directly into the heart of the park. Truthfully there are very few memorable moments along this this hike, which makes it tough to write about.

Fern lined trail, Zinfandel Trail

Fall leaves in Stevens Creek

The trail just winds its way for a few miles through some nice varied terrain. There is plentiful shade, with open areas and some nice views sprinkled in. Eventually the trail leaves Pichetti Ranch and continues through Stevens Creek County Park. The trail eventually hits a dead end at a T-Junction. A right heads more directly to the road via Camp Coastanoan, a left traces Stevens Creek itself. A little route finding is needed to get over the creek and back to the road which leads right back to the trailhead.

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