Mount Madonna

Southbound to Mount Madonna on the Ridge Trail

Mount Madonna County Park currently is home to the southern-most section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The 3.4-mile segment begins at Blackhawk Creek with a gentle climb through a mixed woodland before soaring more than 1,000 feet in just two miles. The trail then levels off for a winding final mile through a shady redwood forest.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

TRAIL MAP (date hiked)

  • Mount Madonna
  • Mount Madonna
  • Mount Madonna
  • Mount Madonna
  • Mount Madonna
  • Mount Madonna

Our Journal: Mount Madonna

The drive between Mount Madonna County Park and the northernmost trailhead of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, at Mount St. Helena, takes about 3.5 hours. We’ve now hiked both.

In between, the Ridge Trail has provided us with views of the oceans and reservoirs, vineyards and redwoods, grassy hillsides and cityscapes. We’ve hiked fire roads, rocky rights of way, loamy foot paths and asphalt. We’ve climbed mountain peaks that literally took our breath away and long, flat straightaways through city streets and along creek beds.

We aren’t very familiar with South Bay open space and really weren’t sure what to expect from Mount Madonna. What we found was a bit of everything the Santa Cruz Mountains hold for hikers: a creek through a woodland of oak, bay laurel and madrone; a heart-pounding ascent through coastal chaparral; and a walk through a redwood forest carpeted in ferns.

On another day, when the COVID-19 Omicron variant wasn’t raging through the Bay Area, we would have stopped for a glass of wine at one of the local vineyards on the way home.

The Ridge Trail climbs to a redwood forest at Mount Madonna. Dan Page/CoastsideSlacking

Miles we hiked


(with returns and connectors)

Elevation gain






Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 209 out of 400 miles


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