Assault on Mount Umunhum

Originally a discussion about my failed attempt to legally bicycle up Mount Umunhum, this page is now a much more useful discussion about all things Mt. Um-related.

View the original entry, including maps and road names.


  1. Kevin
    Posted July 10, 2004 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Were their no trespassing signs on route up Mt Umunhum Rd, after the gate at Bald Mountain trailhead? Approximately how far was Cathermola Rd interection up Mt. Umunhum road, from that point? Any signage or gates to navigate between these 2 points?

  2. Bob
    Posted July 10, 2004 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It’s a nice road most of the way, a couple gates but nothing locked–you get almost to the top before seeing “No Trespassing” signs and warnings painted on the road. It’s in the video clip, I’ll fix that too. Interestingly, yesterday I tried another route to the top, Casa Loma Rd, which is further south. That’s even more scary, and I was tipped off that going up Mt. Umunhum Rd. itself is the best way; you’re always on park land that way, not private land. I think I was close to Cathermola, but I haven’t gone all the way…yet.

  3. Kevin
    Posted July 11, 2004 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I hiked the Kennedy>Sombroso>Barlow>Gate SA09 on Umunhum. I was planning to hike Umunhum (SA09) > Summit & Morrill via Cathermola — but was worried about access? Another option is Umunhum > Loma Prieta > Summit Rd — again with access questions?

  4. Bob
    Posted July 11, 2004 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard that by hiking you can get all the way up–but I have only tried on the roads. The Open Space group has a big map of the trails in the park; a quick glance doesn’t seem to show access to Summit Road–you’d have to go pretty far south to get there, and they say all that is “closed”. If you stayed on the road, however, you might be ok; that’s what I’m going to try next time I ride it.

  5. John
    Posted July 28, 2004 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I know of access to the summit……

  6. Farhan
    Posted August 10, 2004 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Im so determined to get to the top of this mountain. Ive gone up to the second set of “No Trespassing” signs up Mt Umunhum Road. These second set of signs are more specific in that they say “armed guards patroll this area”. Guessing that refers to the mountain folk that live up there. After seeing that we decided to not risk it and just turn around, even though we were soo close. Then when we got to the bottom we saw a ranger there so we asked her if there was any access up to the top of Mt Umunhum. And basically what she said was “you guys can make your own trail to go up there any way you choose, just as long as you dont go into any private property” She didnt say it in those exact words, but thats basically what she meant. So i went a second time at a later date, and took Barlow Road (SA09) off Mt Umunhum Road, and tried to “find” a trail up the mountain. But the foliage was so thick it was hard to move anywhere. Im going to attempt a few more runs, trying to find a good path up, otherwise im just gonna have to start complaining to the open space district to open up that area to public access. If anyone else has found a better way up Mt Umunhum please share wiht the rest of us.

  7. John
    Posted August 14, 2004 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I went up there to enjoy a recent meteor shower, apperently the open space district doesnt like people up there after dark, i want to go to the building at the top, i’ve lived in this vally all my life, i’m extreamly determined to get there, does anyone know of any upcomming events? Email me if you know:

  8. Bob
    Posted August 23, 2004 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    On the official open-space website, a disappointing message:

    Public hiking and bicycling access continue up Mt. Umunhum Road for 1.3 miles past gate SA-08, to the point where the road enters private property. Although it is not gated, this point is well marked with private property signs on the sides of the road, as well as symbols on the road surface. Do not travel on Mt. Umunhum Road beyond this point. The land is private property and entry is trespassing.

  9. Kevin
    Posted September 8, 2004 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    re: “otherwise im just gonna have to start complaining to the open space district to open up that area to public access”


    I hope you have done/are doing so … the MROSD people are reasonable, and sympathetic to your objectives. Letting them know your preferences, and attending public meetings on 2nd & 4th Wednesday each month (like tonight), helps. I read on the website that they are considering a planning contract to ADAW ( over Sierra Azul Open Space District improvements. Sierra Azul promises so much, we should take this as a positive, while exercising our rights to public imput and influence (something encouraged/codified in the charter of the MROSD). Hiking and biking trail and access priorities should be voiced …

  10. kevin
    Posted September 9, 2004 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Correction: EDAW ( budget of $170k over 2004-05, was approved to develop “Master Plan” for Sierra Azul & Bear Creek. A robust public participation in the planning process is fundamental to the contract, which will begin in Q4’04. The planning is to be completed before end of ’05, but (the bad news is) no new openings in Sierra Azul are planned in advance of M-P completion according to Cathy, the Planning Manager for MROSD.

    The process at these meetings is not fast, but it is methodical with what appears to be material progress along the way. The board and staff appear to be thoughtful and diligent in developing new areas of access — i.e. they move in our direction, but it’s always important to keep them aware of our priorities as “stakeholders” in their progress.

    I met the Operation Manager, John, at this meeting — a helpful guy who appears to be the model for his well-trained staff of rangers. He is one who walks the fine line between the more restrictive landowners, and MROSD’s day-to-day mission of responsible access and development of new areas. He mentioned that MROSD now controls(?) access at the Loma Prieta end of Sierra Azul, down to Summit Road. It was not clear to me whether he meant the Loma Prieta end of Loma Almaden Road across the saddle to MtUm (advise — stay on road, to be safest, but no guarantee) … I will follow up for clarification.

    He did affirm that the MtUm end of Loma Almaden road is still private property — is consistent with Bob’s warning post (above) from the website.

    Stay tuned — or better, make yourself a part of the process. Respect private property, and do not trespass! None of us wants a setback, because of intrusion.

  11. Kevin
    Posted September 27, 2004 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    There are 2 cameras positioned at the obvious approaches to the top of MtUm. The 1st is near what looks the 2nd “no-tres” roadstripe (near the top), well past Bob’s roadstripe in his QT-video — could be Farhan’s “armed patrol … warning”? This means he might have been on camera when he turned around (good choice)?

    The 2nd cam is on the ridge between MtTh and MtUm and pans nearly 360 degrees, and it’s view covers a west approach to MtUm, but the elevation is actually below MtUm – you see only the top 20% of the cube.

    These are certainly part of a comms-tower observation/sec system.

  12. Ernie
    Posted October 6, 2004 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Going back nearly fifty years, we had our home on Patio Drive in Campbell (while I worked for the Atomic Power Equipment Dept. of GE in San Jose). The road up to Mt. Umunhum was my favorite one to be alone with my dear wife – it was our “lovers’ lane”. Neither the police, nor any landowners in the area, nor other people driving by ever disturbed us — they just smiled! I thought it was pretty close to paradise – and it probably still is for a lot of you.

    I now live in Falls Church, VA, inside the Beltway that goes around Washington, DC. This place has many attractions – VERY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE DAYS a half century ago! Cound one of you post a couple of photos of Mt. Um on the Internet and tell me about them? My address:

    THANKS! And good luck to you all as you go up and down those hills! (It is probably less dangerous than our highways here in the metropolitan Washington-Baltimore area!)

  13. Stella
    Posted October 6, 2004 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been up hiking on Mt. Umunhum quite a few times in the years passed and I have come to hear stories of something quite strange. I’ve heard that if you veer off a certain path you come to an enclave of quite hostile albinos. I haven’t had the nerve to find out for myself, but has anyone else heard claims of this?

  14. kevin
    Posted October 8, 2004 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    re: “Albinos” — I believe their last name is Peacock (for you X Files fans)? IMO, the private property owners simply want privacy (that’s why they live there); plus some also have significant business interests in leasing high elevation land for comm’s towers — true at MtUm, MtTh, and MtL-P.

    To get back to Ernie’s request, my favorite picture of Mt Um is from the NNW on Wood’s Trail near El Sombroso (~3000′). Pic’s at 4 resolutions (ideal for your PC Wallpaper) can be found at the end of the San Mateo/Santa Clara county section at: MtUm wallpaper images

    For other good pic’s, try: MtUm slideshow

    And a panorama* view from west of MtUm, can be found at: panorama of MtUm

    For those who want to know what is was like in the late 60s (awesome site) — sorry Ernie, as far back as I could go: older photos

    And for recent photos of the top (more awesome photos, and includes panorama* shot): recent photos

    • NOTE: The panorama photo scroll-pans appears to be ~270 degrees (missing the El Sombroso quadrant).
  15. Anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2004 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Some legally-obtained pictures I found–if you can see these, you can be seen!

  16. Kevin
    Posted October 11, 2004 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Re: my earlier post about John (MROSD Ops MGr) comments regarding “MROSD now controls(?) access at the Loma Prieta end of Sierra Azul, down to Summit Road.”

    It is now clear what John meant if one refers to the map dated “1/04”, available here. Please note that the southeastern L-P end of this JAN’04 Sierra Azul Map shows much more MROSD land (in blue) at that end of the ridge. There are much fewer private sectors (in white) in this part of the map — this in contrast to large of intervening private sectors (white and pink) on the road accesses to Um.

    Additional note: It looks like the highest part of the Cathermola Rd section is MROSD land, although that becomes private upon descent. This junction is well before the Um private sectors, when coming from the L-P end of the ridge.

  17. Kim
    Posted December 25, 2004 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Here is a Hike to the top, without trespass on private land. From the gate on Umunhum road, go up to SA09 trail, take this trail over till you get to the creek, go up the creek bed to the top. this is a tough hike. but the only way I know to stay on public land and get to the top.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted January 3, 2005 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Best creek bed hiking in JUL-OCT — dry season.

    While under canopy (1st ¾ of route), full clothing

    … when path/creek bed forks — stay left.

    … when blocked — best to go/climb around left.

    … there is some p-oak, yellow-jackets & ticks.

    After leaving canopy (last ¼ of route), but still in creek bed

    … at ~200′ below top, there’s minor rock climb (when dry)

    or do end-around left and return to creek bed.

    Last ~100′ of elevation is in Pic#3 view, unless cam moved or foggy.

    … but you’re still on public land, until summit perimeter fence.

    Mount Umunhum assaulted!

  19. Kevin
    Posted January 8, 2005 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    A well written high schooler’s story of a pre-dawn road assault from Jan’01. Ms. Rettner’s cross-country fitness served her well, as she+3 climbed some serious winding elevation (~2500) before sunrise. NOTE: the “motion detector” insight in Chapter 6; I guess it is more than cameras on the “no trespassing” approach.

    Based on the “anonymous” post above, looks like this route circumvents the dry season limitations of the creek bed. Get wet or get arrested … hmmm?!?

  20. David
    Posted January 18, 2005 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I recently made it to the top of Umunhum. I started my assualt with two of my friends on Soda Springs Road. After we got to the end of the public road, we hoped the gate. May I remind you that we were on mountain bikes. About 200 yards after the first gate, we turned onto a little fire road. We followed the road around Mt. Thayer, hoping more gates. Thayer is completly surrounded by barbed wire fence. A little past Thayer the fire road hooked up onto a poorly mainatined paved road. We came upon another gate and hoped it. We were now in the Almaden AFB. We rode through a small cluster of delapidated barracks and other buildings. If you look closely there is a pool that is overgrown with brush on the side of the road. We then came to a fork in the road. We went off to the left first and passes through a large open gate. From there it was a little further up to the summit of Mt. Um. The views were fantastic from here. I couldn’t believe that I was on top. I’d always wanted to get to the top, but I never thought I’d make it after many attempts. Anyway, we rode back down to the fork, took the right turn and suddenly came upon a big barbed gate. We thought we were stuck, but to add to our terror, we heard a truck pull up behind us. We wee thinking it was a ranger or something, going to bust us. But instead, it was a nice couple who owned some transmitter up there. I think they were the McQueens, but I’m not sure. They opened the gate for us and we rode all the way down Mt. Um RD. BAck home. The sign might say “armed guards on patrol’ but its there just to make sure you dont go. There wasn’t a single soul up there except that one couple. If you want more info about my Mt. Umunhum summit success, e mail me at I’d be happy to fill you in about it.

  21. kevin
    Posted January 19, 2005 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    re:”Anyway, we rode back down to the fork, took the right turn and suddenly came upon a big barbed gate.”

    You took a “right” coming down from MtUm? Doesn’t this go back to MtTh, if I read the map correctly? A “left” would take you along McQueen Ridge road, past the NexRad WeatherDome and to locked gate(s) with the motion detector (of Ms. Rettner), and down the winding MtUm road?

    Gracious of the McQueens to give you 3 a pass — they also own and lease the land for the towers on the ridge between MtUm & MtTh (so your Soda Springs route, might have given them heartburn).

  22. David
    Posted January 19, 2005 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Your right. It was a left turn from the road that went to the summit. We came from the right.

  23. kevin
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Some DEC’04 updated photos from the Radomes site — note the top view of the MtUm “block house.” A good pic of uninviting spot.

    Update MtUm Pics

  24. Name kevin
    Posted February 25, 2005 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Your Comments A new MROSD Sierra-Azul planning map that details ownership of some of the properties of the area. Though it isn’t very detailed, it does offer more insight into the potential for access and acquisition — Sierra-Azul/Bear Creek Area Planning

  25. Name David
    Posted March 7, 2005 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Your Comments Hi Kevin- I was planning to do a bike ride from Summit Road to Mt. Umunhum along the Loma Ridge Rd. DO you have any opinion on this? It looks like an interesting ride. I wanted to know what you think about it. A while back I drove up to the Mt. Loma Prieta area and went to the Sierra Azul OS gate. It seemed to me that one could get to the top of Um from there.

  26. kevin
    Posted March 8, 2005 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Route-wise, you are correct, David.

    As you know from the Summit-Mt Madonna Road intersection, take the left-fork up through the open gate — what I believe is an unenforcible/uninforced “no trespassing” sign is about 50ft NE from that intersection. Wind your way up the hill til you sweep left with MtL-P to your right and up. You then come to a 3-way fork at the foot of MtL-P, the left fork is Loma Prieta-Mt Umunhum Road (Loma Ridge Road).

    Near and NW of MtL-P, you may be briefly crossing private property past the spring (before getting to the MROSD gate you mentioned). After that you continue descending from MtL-P and turning sharply WSW then W and then WNW down and across the saddle ridge, then back up toward MtUm. After ascending past the Camerola Rd turn-off (on left between 3-4 miles from MtL-P) you continue ascending MROSD land before you hit a very well marked “No Trespass” gate and sign on the south end of the same private property you hit coming up from the N on Loma Almaden/MtUm Rd from Hicks. From this point on, signs, gates, cameras and fences are all in the path to MtUm (which you saw from the other direction, on your on your earlier Soda Springs trip). Of course you are subject to all of the legal entanglements, citizens-, MROSD- and Co Sheriff’s-, if you proceed either left and up towards MtUm or the quicker right down the MtUm Rd. Finally, if you choose the earlier the Camerola Rd turn-off down to Lk_Elsman (and later LexRes), it offers a similar brief “No Trespass” private property descent risk, well down from the ridge.

  27. kevin
    Posted March 29, 2005 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Sierra Azul &

    Bear Creek Redwoods


    Open Space Preserves

    Master Planning

    Preliminary planning, stakeholder interviews,

    and data collection is currently

    underway for the Sierra Azul-Bear Creek

    Redwoods Master Plan. The

    first public workshop is tentatively

    scheduled for mid-

    March 2005. Please check

    the District Web site or the

    upcoming project mailing

    for actual date, time, and

    meeting location. The first

    workshop will introduce the

    public to the planning

    process and serve as a

    visioning session for the

    future use, development,

    and management of Sierra

    Azul and Bear Creek Redwoods Preserves.

    If you would like to be added to the mailing

    list to receive a copy of the project mailing,

    please contact Ana Ruiz, Project Planner, at

    (650) 691-1200.

  28. kevin
    Posted March 29, 2005 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    1st planning meeting next Monday 4-APR-05 from 6:30-10:00p

    Los Gatos Neighborhood Community Center

    208 E. Main Street

    Los Gatos, CA 95033

    (is 3 to 4 blocks east of Hwy-17, across street from Saratoga/Los Gatos Rec Department bldng)

  29. Name
    Posted March 29, 2005 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    More info:

    MROSD Sierra Azul Planing

    MROSD Sierra Azul Newsletter #1

  30. Casa Loma Resident
    Posted May 4, 2005 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Casa Loma and Loma Chiquita roads are private roads. They’re easements that cut through private land. For the most part the people that live there are very protective (Over protective) of people coming up there. My understanding is that in the 70’s there would be scores of weekend warrior in their new 4×4’s that would plague these roads. If you run into a resident, nothing much is likely to happen other then some angry comments and perhaps gestures. My suggestion is to tell them you’re a resident or that you’re visiting a resident. It’s all rather silly as these are special, beautiful places that can and should be shared with everyone. I’m told also that the caretaker for Mt. Umunhum is rather grumpy and will prosecute for trespassing.

    The inaccessability of this place, to me, makes it that much more appealing.

    One final note. The area of Morril road around Lake Elsman is private property owned by the water district. As long as you don’t run into an employee then you shouldn’t have many problems. In many of these cases the worst punishment for being caught is that you’ll be told to “beat it”.

    Good luck and keep exploring.


  31. Carol
    Posted May 6, 2005 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    A friend of mine tried to do an Um rid eon his bike and ran in to some crazy rednecks who held him hostage with a shotgun while he called the police. Yikes!

  32. Name
    Posted May 11, 2005 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    When, where and any other details? Was the friend in no-no land?

  33. David
    Posted May 14, 2005 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all of the info, Casa Loma resident. I totally agree with you that landowners don’t really do anything much to you if you are caught anywhere up there. You’d know, since you live up there. I’m curious to know more about the Mt. Umunhum caretaker you mentioned: what exactly does he patrol if anything? If it’s Mr. McQueen you’re talking about, he let me and my friends through one of the gates, and he wasn’t mad at us for trespassing or anything.

    Hey Carol-did that incident really happen? I would like to know where it happened so I could avoid the area. Wouldn’t want that to happen to me.

  34. L
    Posted May 26, 2005 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I had an encounter with the red-neck on Mt. Umunhum this morning, 5/26/2005. I was about a hundred feet beyond the 2nd gate when an old truck pulled alongside. The guy (60ish, beard, glasses, heavy, with a “veteran” cap) told me the following,

    “… You are trespassing… People up here have guns. If we catch you trespassing, we’ll shoot you. blah…blah…blah…”

    He then drove away, skidding his wheels in the process.

    I was not amused. A simple warning would have been enough. Death threats were neither necessary nor civilized. Well, perhaps red-neck civility is different. Hmm… such behavior deserves bad mountain karma.

  35. Kevin
    Posted May 27, 2005 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    A hundred feet beyond the 2nd gate (SA-09 to Barlow Rd?), is still well in the contested public zone — the warning road stripes and signage are both more than 500 yards farther up MtUm road! So the threat occurred on public property? If I understand you correctly, and the threat was as direct as you say, the incident should at least be reported to rangers and the authorities …

  36. Kevin
    Posted May 27, 2005 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Correction: A hundred feet beyond the 2nd gate (SA-09 to Barlow Rd?), is still well in the UNcontested public zone

  37. David
    Posted May 27, 2005 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    It is possible that L couild mean the 2nd gate that covers Mt. Umunhum Road only. The SA-09 gate is off to the side. The 2nd gate on the road would be on the ridge just before the turn off to McQueen Ridge and the NEXRAD weather station, which is well within the trespassing zone.

  38. Kevin
    Posted May 30, 2005 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Agreed — we need a clarification if the reference was to ‘SA-09 to Barlow Rd?’ or to the next on-road gate above it?

  39. Kevin
    Posted May 30, 2005 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    BTW, nice job on the MtUm page on

    Side note to Bob — I had some A HREF syntax trouble with the comment adder on above. Could not create a direct link.

  40. David
    Posted May 30, 2005 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for the compliment. I went up Um for the second time recently, but I got yelled at by a resisdent on Soda Springs Rd, (well after the first no trespassing sign).

  41. David
    Posted May 30, 2005 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for the compliment. I went up Um for the second time recently, but I got yelled at by a resisdent on Soda Springs Rd, (well after the first no trespassing sign).

  42. David
    Posted May 30, 2005 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Ooops. Sorry about the double submission.

  43. Kevin
    Posted May 30, 2005 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Assuming was biking trip — how did you return?

  44. David
    Posted May 31, 2005 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I hiked this time. I went with one of my friends and his father. We didn’t feel like going back down SS Rd, on the chance that the resident was waiting for us, so we went down Mt. Umunhum Rd and arranged for a pickup at gate SA-08. Going down Mt. Um Rd was no problem, which was nice. We did have to be careful as we neared the trailer park though. Wonder if those are the “rednecks” that Carol was talking about?

  45. john
    Posted June 3, 2005 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    This is a very interesting story about mt. umunhum. emiray/mtumunhumlink.html

  46. Kevin
    Posted June 6, 2005 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    A summary of the first workshop – some progress, though not as fast as many would like!


  47. David
    Posted June 11, 2005 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Haha, I’d like to see those things be done in my lifetime. As an attendee of the workshop last April, not a whole lot was said about Umunhum, however some good ideas were taken into consideration.

  48. Rad
    Posted July 1, 2005 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    i went up with david, it wasnt so much an assult on mt umunhum as a verbal assult on us when some tight ass saw us

  49. Jared
    Posted July 3, 2005 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    From gate SA09, I went hiking down Barlow road with the intention of getting to the top of mt. Umunhum via the Guadalupe creek bed. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of water flowing now in July and the embankments are not confidence inspiring – and falling into the creek would probably suck. I only made it a little past the first fork in the creek before I turned around.

    So I went further down Barlow road. To my surprise, there are no less than three hidden paths that split from the main trail along the left hand side of Barlow. The first is a little past Guadalupe creek and seems to wind about 200 yards before ending in thick manzanita/bay tree growth. The second path is about 100 yards before a gate and cement-filled garbage can that you can see straight ahead while heading north on Barlow. The third path is about 200-300 yards further up Barlow, behind a gate on the left. Again, this third path doesn’t seem to go too far.

    The second path seems like it may be a possible north-east approach to the summit of Mt. Umunhum. I made it about 3/8-1/2 of a mile up this path before the ground became excessively loose and my path was blocked by a large fern-covered rock. I might try exploring this area again if I’m more prepared. Maybe I lost my way on this second path? The second path is clearly defined by trampled vegetation, which leads me to believe that there is human traffic on this path.

    I know I could try sneaking up the road to get to the Summit of Mt. Umunhum, but hiking is more fun. Plus, the paths off Barlow lead me to believe that there are some possible north-east approaches to the summit of Umunhum. If anyone has any information about other hidden trails up Umunhum, or just any hidden hiking trails in general around the Mt. Umunhum/Thayer/El Sombroso areas, let me know.

  50. Mt Umunhum resident
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Don’t you people understand the concept of “Private Property”?

  51. Kevin
    Posted July 15, 2005 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    “Don’t you people understand the concept of “Private Property”?”

    A pretty broad brush you’re painting with, eh? Your option to read the thread, again; however, some posters here clearly do.

    In my own case, I know that some of the resident postings of “no trespassing/private property/private road” signage at the Summit/MtMadonna road intersection that has, by legal ruling, been invalidated! My presumption is that elsewhere the signage posted by current residents and property owners is valid, and I have posted to that affect on this board.

    The openness of this board provides a public exchange of ideas and progress on legal access to the greater MtL-P, MtUm, Sombroso areas of the Sierra Azul. You’re right — that not all of the posts are in that spirit or practice; but is it not better for those newcomers to this board to know where they will encroach on “private property” and where they are in the clear? And if there are unlawful actions, you certainly will learn of them. Your own post on “private property” — doesn’t this small venue provide yet another way for you to warn off potential trespassers? In this, or in areas of real or potential vandalism, this website offers you allies, should you want to get the word out. It is safe to say that almost all posters here are sympathetic to any action, lawful or unlawful, that delays/restricts access to the public areas of this region so close to our high tech center.

    It is also my hope (though perhaps I’m in he minority), that posters here also know of the dangers of the recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling sanctioning of what clearly can become local government land confiscation abuses based on “eminent domain!”

    It’s after midnight … perhaps we should leave such things until at least next week?

  52. David
    Posted July 15, 2005 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Yeah, what Kevin said.

  53. CmdrPiffle
    Posted July 21, 2005 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Local resident here…..from the Skyland Rd. side of Summit.

    Been up here many times….

    I will add that many of the private property signs are put up in non-privately owned areas to block access.

    Methamphetemine production has been noted is several locations in the general area. Maymens Flat seems the worst.

    I would respect all properly marked access to private property, and may be a good idea to ride in groups of 3 or more. I’ve only had one issue, at the summit area of Mt. Loma Prieta a little down from the towers. A Jeep came up and a man demanded to know what I was doing. He was offensive, and there was an implied threat.

    As an avid mt. biker with an uncontrollable urge to summit this thing……I’ve been disappointed. I can advise some really good rides, but not all the way to Mt. Um. I would love to see more open access, and think we may in the future. Anyone here feel free to write me at the below address, and I can suggest some good rides in this area.


  54. CmdrPiffle
    Posted July 21, 2005 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Guess this would help…

  55. Matt
    Posted August 5, 2005 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    There was a raid on a Marijuana farm on Mt umunhum today, maybe that is why people were so protective up there, didn’t want you cutting in on their stash! Check out the article.

    Most of are probably lucky you didn’t push your luck going up there, might have ended up bad.

  56. Jared Rader
    Posted August 6, 2005 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    It’s too bad this mountain is surrounded by paranoid neighbors, ranger patrols, and law enforcment actions. I guess I know now that bushwacking around those paths off Barlow road was probably not a very good idea. Hopefully it will cool down up there between the outdoor growing seasons.

    Someday I’ll find a way to the top, but in the mean time, Umunhum’s nearby mountain cousin is a lot friendlier.

  57. Name
    Posted August 8, 2005 at 4:09 pm | Permalink


    “The marijuana gardens were within half a mile, in a direct line, of residences on the eastern slope of Mount Umunhum in the 16,879-acre Sierra Azul open-space reserve, Cooke said.”

    This sounds like the Herbert Creek Drainage east of MtUm Rd — is bounded between MtUm, BaldMt, AlmadenRes and L-P — a very rugged area! David/Rad — this wasn’t the area you bushwhacked thru to get around the MtUm return blocked, you reported a few months ago? I believe it was you — however the post has been deleted or I saw it somewhere else?

    Anyway, the Jacque’s Ridge parking > MtUm Rd (SA-8) > (SA-9) Barlow > Wood Trails loop is still open for hiking/biking, and apparently not near the crime scene — I checked. As these areas open up, it’s important that they are used/monitored continously. An active vigilent hiking/biking public discourages criminal activity in these remote areas, just by being there.

    In case you need to report suspicious activity, call the Ranger number at 650-968-4411. It’s public land, for public use — keep the bad guys from winning, by default.

  58. Kevin
    Posted August 8, 2005 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    The last post was from me…

  59. Jack
    Posted August 11, 2005 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I have just read through this entire forum and am greatly saddened. I lived at Almaden Radar Site in 1972/1973, I was 14/15 years old at the time.

    It was paradise.

    There were about 30 families and 150 enlisted airmen stationed there. We had to ride an old Air Force bus down the mountain each day for school. Sometimes we were snowed in and had great fun handing the school attendance office our “snowed in” notes. When they asked where we lived, we would take them outside and point up to the mountain. We also did this with kids we met at school.

    The base had a half-court basketball gym that doubled as a theater on Friday and Saturday nights, showing first run movies for a quarter. I saw my first R movie there…”Summer of ’42”. There was also a 2-lane bowling alley that my dad managed in the evenings….25 for a game and a dime for shoe rental. Summer days were spent at the outdoor pool located next to the gym.

    There were miles and miles of fire-roads, I spent many happy hours on my mini-bike exploring these roads (this is before mountain bikes were invented). I learned to rappel on the metal framed tower seen in some of the photos. There used to be two of these towers, they had a “rocking chair” looking structure on top of them. These towers were called height finders.

    Some of the younger enlisted airmen taught my friends and I how to rock climb on some of the rocks surrounding the base. The best one was ‘Big Rock”, where after you were done climbing, you slid down the mountainside through/under the brush at break neck speeds.

    The base was closed due to better radars being developed and the smaller sites such as Almaden were no longer needed.

    Yes, asbestos and lead-contaminated buildings were left behind. One thing people tend to forget is that at the time of the base’s construction asbestos was considered a wonder material, the dangers of prolonged exposure to it were unknown.

    Many uses for the base were discussed after the closing. In 1986 the base was purchased by the Mid-Pensuila Open Space District for somewhere around $270,000. Oh, how I wish I would have known it was for sale, somehow I would have raised the money to buy it. I always thought it would have made a great enviromental studies camp.

    In 2003 I had the opportunity to revisit the base, it was a very bittersweet experience. So many wonderful memories, yet so sad to see it in it’s present condition.

    I grew up on Air Force bases all over the United States in the 60’s and 70’s…Almaden was my favorite.

    If anyone has any questions I would be happy to answer them.

    The Fis and Game warden that was wounded during the recent dope raid is the son of a friend of mine here in Morro Bay.

    I would love to see the road to the summit opened to cyclists and hikers, the views are beautiful. I also long to show my 13 year old son the place I simply call, “the mountain”.

  60. Farhan
    Posted August 16, 2005 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    After two long, grueling years, i finally made it to the top of mount umunhum! So for those of you who are curious as how to get up there, here it goes:

    We started by parking at the gate on mt umunhum road. We turned onto Barlow Road SA-09 and hiked till we got to Guadalupe Creek. Thats where we got off Barlow Road and began hiking up along the creek. We came across a lot of forks in the creek, and ended up choosing the sides the looked like the “main” creek. There was some very minor rock scaling involved (which was probably the most fun part of the hike). Then after a ways up, probably about 45 minutes to an hour of hiking you hit this huge wall of rock on your right hand side (and the creek starts curving slightly to the right), probably about 10 ft high. After you climb up this, you pretty much stop following the creek. You go a little bit further up, and take the next opening you see on the right hand side. After another 5-10 min or so, you hit this ledge overlooking the valley below, so we stopped there for a little while to enjoy the view and catch our breath (you can see in the pictures).

    Next began what we ended up calling the “hill of death”. If you’re on mt umunhum road and you look up at the summit (its the east side of the mountain i believe), its just dry open slope with a few bushes and trees. Every other side of hte mountain is covered with thick trees, but this side was relatively clear. So basically you just hike straight up this slope for about another hour, depending on your speed. You basically just use your instinct and make your own path up, it all leads to the summit so it doenst matter much where you go. But we kinda followed a pre made path, which means that people have made the trek before. After a while you begin to see the tip of a radio tower and the tip of the watch tower right next to the block building. This is where we ran into a fence, which was expected becuase i was told there is a barbed wire fence at the top. We came prepared with towels and such to climb the fence if need be. However luckily enough there was a huge hole in the fence. Someone had used some sort of wire cutters to make a large opening in the fence.

    This is where we came across our one and only problem. We ran into a rattlesnake right next to the hole in the fence, about 5 feet away from us. We couldnt see it becuase it was in some bushes, but the sound is so distinct we were positive it was a rattlesnake. One of my friends said you are supposed to stomp your feet and make loud noises to make it go away so we began doing that and in the mean time we ran through the hole in the fence and up to the top of the mountain.

    At the top the building looks a lot bigger than i thought it was. So we just walked around and explored a bit, took some pictures. There are some cameras at the summit that stream live video on the internet, so i called my friend back down in almaden and told him to take some pictures of us using the live camera. To our surprise, the block building’s door was open so we decided to go inside a little bit. It was pitch black in there, thats why theres so many pictures of the stairs (we were using the camera flash as a light source since we didnt bring flashlights). But since it was too dark to go up the stairs we decided to just turn around and go explore outside. We explored around for a little bit more but decided to leave since we were getting worried someone might see us. We were so tired that there was no way we were going to hike down the side of the mountain again to get down. So we deicded to just go down mt umunhum road. The road curves around all over the place, so it took us a decent amount of time. But was still quicker and easier than hiking the mountain again. There are two gates that come up on the way down. The first we were able to crawl under and the second was just a small gate which we jumped over. The second gate however had a camera facing it, so we just walked relaly quickly and didnt look towards the camera.

    I think we got extremely lucky this trip. First of all not runing into any snakes (other than the one at the way top) or wild animals on the hike up the mountain. Also we didnt run into any of the hicks who live up there. So we dont want to push our luck too much, but hopefully i plan on making this trip again someday. Or even better yet, hopefully they’ll make legal hiking trails up to the summit so we wont have to go through this again. But then again, making our own trail up the mountain side was pretty damn fun too. Check out the pictures:

  61. pwnnneeddd
    Posted August 17, 2005 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    can you say pwned?

  62. GWS
    Posted August 17, 2005 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been following the Mt.Umunhum feud off and on for a while now. I’d like to see this space open up. With people hiking or biking through consistently, we can possibly drive away marijuana farmers and quell concerned land owners with legal easements. Being the highest summit in the valley and illegal to access only makes it more desirable for most people. This is evident in the story of the high school kids. Doing things like beating on the Monolith with crow bars and trying to dismantle alarms can only worsen the tension between the public and land owners. Use common sense.

    I’ll be interested to see if the recent raid on the marijuana farm will induce a more interested public discussion of opening this land for everyone to use.

    If you have a PC and a fast internet connection, Google Earth can get you some nice views of the surrounding area.

  63. Anonymous
    Posted August 18, 2005 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    re: 60 Farhan — please reread post 18!

    First of all, congratulations on your summit!

    BUT you went “right” instead of staying LEFT (as advised in post 18). From paragraph 2 of post 60, this is where you added significant risk and fatigue to your effort:

    “Then after a ways up, probably about 45 minutes to an hour of hiking you hit this huge wall of rock on your right hand side (and the creek starts curving slightly to the right), probably about 10 ft high. After you climb up this…”

    That 10′ face climb is more like 15′ — often wet and always dangerous. Any who might follow this trek route risk severe injury with a slip and fall. As posted in 18:

    “While under canopy (1st ¾ of route), full clothing … when path/creek bed forks — stay left. … when blocked — best to go/climb around left. … there is some p-oak, yellow-jackets & ticks.

    After leaving canopy (last ¼ of route), but still in creek bed … at ~200’ below top, there’s minor rock climb (when dry) or do end-around left and return to creek bed.”

    That lower “blocked” face section you encountered, is much easier negotiated by climbing up the mulch covered LEFT bank, using the trees/branches for assist. You then hike around to the left, and rejoin the creek bed safey on top, and continue, always taking left forks up the creek bed. After clearing the canopy, proceed as in post 18, with 1 more left end-around a minor face climb of about 10 ft high (can be safely climbed), but the end around is even safer. This still challenging route is much quicker and safer, and avoids that first dangerous face and the strength sapping “hill of death”, energy that you need for a safe MROSD routed return.

    NOTE: I post this because:

    1) if one of us gets injured on this route, it delays/ends it for all of us!

    2) because of fatigue, you felt compelled to descend through the private property area. I would have to agree with your decision; to return exhausted, the way you came would certainly have meant casualties in your party. Net result again, it delays/ends it for all of us!

    My request is for you to please save your strength next time per routing via post 18; then descend back through MROSD land, retracing the (post 18) creek bed steps and staying RIGHT (more rested, and avoiding the face descents). You may optionally take a more demanding/tiring NE ridge route down, eventually to Barlow Road past the Guadalupe Creek point of ascent.

    Again my congratulations, but please take care not to endanger it for all of us, next time.

  64. David
    Posted August 19, 2005 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Who are these high schoolers that GWS is talking about? Rad and I didn’t hit the box with crowbars or anything like that and I didn’t read about Farhan doing anything like that. No other high schoolers that I know about.

    Hey Kevin-Rad and I didn’t bushwack around the area where the pot farm was but I’m still not exactly sure where it was. If it was down by Bald Mtn and Almaden Res, wouldn’t it have been closer to the Hicks Rd. and Mt. Um Rd.? Also, the guy Cooke from the article said that the raid happened 1/2 mile from residences on Mt. Um. What residences? The closest people I can think ofon the eastern slope are the ones up Mt. Um Rd. in the trailer park. I could be wrong…

  65. David
    Posted August 19, 2005 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and the Mid Pen public workshop for the Bear Creek and Sierra Azul Master Plan is scheduled for October, actual date and location, time TBA.

  66. Kevin
    Posted August 21, 2005 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    David (re: 64)

    I believe the “crowbar” reference comes from the Rettner URL (Chap 7 & *) in my post 19, and repeated by John in post 45.

    My guess is the pot farm was where you said, and the residents 1/2 mile away are the ones up Mt. Um Rd. in the trailer park.

    Farhan & friends — nice pics!

    Page 64 of 87 of looks like one of the trailer based residents?

    That barren hill (69 & 70) your group hiked looks like a real leg burner. It also looks like there’s bushes at top that you had to crawl through?

  67. David
    Posted August 21, 2005 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Of course, the Rettner girl. I forgot. But didn’t she go up back in ’97 or something? I don’t know, but the first time I went (Jan 05), the doors were open. When I went with Rad in May 05, they were closed. And as Farhan tells it, when he went they were open, so obviously someone gets them open.

  68. Kevin
    Posted August 21, 2005 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Not ’97 — the Rettner trek was ~2001. All doors were locked, and their crowbar was used on a human-size vent (Chap 7 or 8). Vent had white powder lining, which I hope was dust and not asbestos.

  69. Farhan
    Posted August 22, 2005 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I found the minor rock climbing to be the most fun portion of the hike up mt umunhum and i intend on doing it again next time i go up. 10-15 ft of rock wall is not very high or very difficult at all. And its not even like i was in “private” property during that portion of the hike.

  70. Charles
    Posted August 23, 2005 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I, too, used to live at the AF station on Umunhum from around 1975-1977 when I was between 8-10 years old. Like Jack, who posted earlier, I also have fond memories of living on The Mountain. I’d like to hear from anyone who used to live there or lives there now. I live in Utah, but I am planning to revisit the site.

  71. Anonymous
    Posted August 25, 2005 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Farhad- I too enjoy the modest rock face climbing, and have so many times on that very path. It is very safe and sure when it’s dry, and you’re not tired. But my point is only that a safe and sure round trip on MROSD land should be the objective of all of us. My point was about your (compelled?) choice of “private property return, resulting from the choices you made on ascent…

  72. Anonymous
    Posted August 25, 2005 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Farhad- I too enjoy the modest rock face climbing, and have so many times on that very path. It is very safe and sure when it’s dry, and you’re not tired. But my point is only that a safe and sure ROUND TRIP on MROSD land should be the objective of all of us — don’t you agree? If I read your post correctly, you were (fatigue compelled?) to return over “private property”, resulting from the choices you made on ascent…

  73. David
    Posted October 6, 2005 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the Mid Pen meeting: November 10, 2005, at 7 PM at the Los Gatos Neighborhood Center. Should be interesting. Not much was said on Mt. Um at the one last April, so I’ll try to retain every question to Mt. Um somehow.

  74. Kevin
    Posted October 9, 2005 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    At, lLooks like a rather colorfully named poster took the Guad-Creek route to MtUm! See the Mt Umunhum thread.

    The anti-spam SW won’t let me post more …

  75. David
    Posted October 9, 2005 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Yes, this “Abraxis” did take the Guad Creek Up. I was hoping he could post it as a route. I’d like to try this route, but probably won’t have the time between now and when the creek starts to flow again.

  76. Kevin
    Posted October 9, 2005 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Bob- it’s when I include the URL (with or without) http that blocks my post.

  77. John
    Posted October 12, 2005 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hello all, i made it to the top of mt. um back in april 05, i got some pretty awsome pictures! I started my hike at a gate on hicks road (right at the tip of the resivour, theres a hair-pin turn on hicks road, thats where the gate is) I went from there straight up the ridge that leads to the building atop mt. um. The trip took 12 hours, i was dead tired when i got to the top, so i took the private roads back down, I didnt encounter anyone on my trip, and i was able to get picked up at gate SA08. When i went the doors to the tower were not open, i really like the pictures on

    It looks like you guys had it a bit easier than me haha, i’d really like to go back up again soon, is anyone itnerested in joining? maybe we can plan a better route? Let me know! my email adress is

  78. John
    Posted October 12, 2005 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    For some reason my email adress isnt showing up, Miyako(underscore)is(underscore)


    hopefully i’ll have time soon to post my pictures on photobucket or something!

  79. Kevin
    Posted October 15, 2005 at 7:40 pm | Permalink


    And we thought Farhad took a tough route; Hick’s Gate to MtUm (up Guad-Creek) is an extraordinary trek from ~700 to 3450′ (the last 1200′ in less than a mile). Congratulations! I have it on Topo as about ~3 miles of bushwacking mess. You took the NE ridge?

  80. David
    Posted October 17, 2005 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Tough Stuff!

  81. Sherry
    Posted November 6, 2005 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Where is the observatory in conjunction to Hicks? And are the albino stories really true?

    I have seen and heard of the white truck that constantly goes up past the initial gate, and I was wondering, is that a resident? He almost ran over my friends before. Just curious as to what rumors are true and what aren’t.

  82. David
    Posted November 6, 2005 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Doubt the albino stories are true. The guy with the white truck might be the maintainer of the radio equipment up on McQueen Ridge and Tomita Hill Ridge and/or the general security guy.

  83. David
    Posted November 6, 2005 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    An interesting thing happened to me a couple weeks ago: I was watching the Tomita Hill webcam at and I saw that there was a small grass fire on the side of the road. At one point, a tree caught on fire. I called the FD and they came to my house to see where the fire was. They radioed CDF and they had a chopper up there in about five minutes. Within twenty minutes, a single engine fire truck was up there along with the guy in the white truck. I watched the webcam until they left. I didn’t want this to turn into a Southern CA-like fire, so I did the best thing I could. It would have been cooler if I could have gone up there with the firemen though ;).

  84. kevin
    Posted November 7, 2005 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Nice save.

  85. kevin
    Posted November 7, 2005 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Nice save.

  86. Rad
    Posted November 10, 2005 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    has anyone noticed that when the guy in the video is riding his bike it sounds like he’s riding a wooden bike. it creaks and stuff and makes noises you dont usually here from a bike.

  87. Bob
    Posted November 10, 2005 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Yup, I rode a wooden bike all the way up Mount Umunhum…ok, maybe not. But I will in celebration the day it’s opened!

  88. David
    Posted November 10, 2005 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Just got back from the Public Workshop, quite a lot was said about Mt. Umunhum. Saw frequent poster Kevin and Scott McQueen there too.

  89. kevin
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I’m glad you fessed up, Bob — the wooden MtBike is so much more natural. I’m right behind you, when my video captures my ascent in wooden clogs?

    Echoing David — the Edaw and MROSD people were diligent at capturing the interest of our key access points for discussion. A Kennedy to MtUm south to the sea (and ESE to Uvas Co. Park) . They also want to broadly escalate the MyUm Super-fund clean-up pressure to Congress — will help with that, but prefer the end-run around MtUm in the mean time.

  90. kevin
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I learned something else — the pot ambush and shootings were more toward the Shannon-Kennedy end of the Sierra Azul (not the Herbert Creek drainage east of MtUm, as I thought). It appears to have been in the more inaccessible canyons between and south of Americh and Pheasant roads. The ranger, Brian, mentioned that they were 4-5 farms raided this year, spread all over the reserve — an obvious WARNING for those who might be tempted to randomly bushwhack thru the reserve. Only one raid got the big publicity, for obvious reasons.

    Final note — the ranger staff wants the odd or suspicious reported to them; but investigating that tempting off-trail path yourself is dangerous.

  91. David
    Posted November 23, 2005 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Climbed Umunhum for a third time today! Went up Guadalupe Creek, following mostly Farhan’s directions. It was a great route. No hassles or encounters with anyone. Descended the same route. I wasn’t too tired after going up “the hill of death” either.

  92. Anonymous
    Posted November 23, 2005 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations. Seems a lot safer to stay on public land.

    Am glad fatigue wasn’t a factor. The “hill of death” route is also less of an erosion problem give it’s firmer terrain. Next route for you to try is the NE ridge route (also on public land). It offers the least in erosion, and is of course well away from the creekbed. Steeper in places than the creekbed route, but not as steep as the hill, it also easier to stay on previously traveled trail on descent (than ascent).

    As always, long sleeves and pants required … no leaves on poison oak stems is still no protection.

  93. Anonymous
    Posted November 23, 2005 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    From your photo on (“The box and lookout, as they first come into view.”), your approach was the still SSE up from the headwaters creekbed, not ESE or E (which I consider the “hill of death)?”

  94. David
    Posted November 24, 2005 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    True; we acsended more to the west of “the hill of death”. We took a very small ridge that went up. This seemed like a nice border to the hill of death, which would be on the east side, and the Guad Creek source, which would be on the west side of this ridge.

    Re NE Ridge: I’ve been doing research on this route (with the help of Google Earth). From the summit yesterday, I looked down the NE Ridge and it looked do-able.

  95. David
    Posted November 24, 2005 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Another interesting thing: going up Guad Creek, I saw many black hoses stuck in pools of water, then going up the sides of the creek. Had a good intention that it was for marijuana, though the hoses were dry and looked rather old, so they were probably from a long time ago.

    If anybody is wondering, the doors to the box were closed, and bolted across.

  96. Anonymous
    Posted November 24, 2005 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    re: 94 Agree … a good compromise, as it’s the harder climb for somewhat shorter distance (than t-h-o-d).

    re: 95 also correct … but no change in the hoses etc, for some years now (i.e.not recent).

  97. Dave
    Posted November 27, 2005 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t hiked up the creek yet to the top but I plan to. I’ve been in contact with David who has been a great help. I saw some of those hoses while I was checking out the creek. We were wondering what they were for as well.

  98. Dave
    Posted November 27, 2005 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t hiked up the creek yet to the top but I plan to. I’ve been in contact with David who has been a great help. I saw some of those hoses while I was checking out the creek. We were wondering what they were for as well.

  99. MrBill
    Posted November 29, 2005 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I just found this site/blog.


    I’m glad to hear that MROSD are working to improve public access in the Sierra Azul Open Space preserve, and I agree that we should minimize our impact on land and other improvements by not breaking into the monolith, cutting fences, or causing erosion from cross-country hiking.

    The district’s mandate includes preserving the natural state of its preserves, and to that end I believe it should exhaust all opportunities to use existing roads and trails before it starts cutting new ones that connect to the same places.

    In particular, Loma Almaden Rd. was built by the Air Force many years ago with public funds and never was a private road. These roads are public property even if they cross lands that are private. The same could be said for Loma Ridge Rd. that was probably constructed by the CDF (under WPA or earlier) long before the hicks moved up there with their trailers.

    I have no problem respecting someone’s private property on either side of a road by staying on the road where it crosses someone’s property. But because somone owns land over which a road passes (an easement), does not give that owner the right to control access along that road, any more than I can block off the sidewalk in front of my house.

    Further, if the owners of these inholdings took a rational view they’d realize that having preserved open space around their property increases their long-term privacy since no new plots would be sold off to future residents.

  100. David
    Posted November 29, 2005 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, I never thought about the whole thing with the road. Makes me think back to Soda Springs Rd, when the resident yelled at us. We were on the road that time. It didnt seem like that guy’s property, considering that his house was already like half a mile away!

  101. kevin
    Posted December 4, 2005 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    I believe the MtUm and Loma Almaden road construction, vs. Soda Springs Rd construction were funded differently. The legal case for MtUm access, up MtUm road is a good one — similar to a Summit Rd case settled for public access, in the past.

  102. kevin
    Posted December 4, 2005 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    But as always, the case must be funded, filed and settled — the costs non-trivial for anyone (including MROSD). In addition, there’s the land-owner PR problem that the MROSD would have. I suspect both are reasons why MROSD has not taken the initiative.

  103. kevin
    Posted December 5, 2005 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    … that is, if the toxics on top of MtUm weren’t a big enough deterent to MROSD action.

    Side note — thx MrBill, for your 24-NOV-05 ride report. My ’04 hike over “the saddle” was aided by JB’s Apr’04 “last chance” report. Your sequel adds pics to waypoints — useful for next time.

  104. kevin
    Posted December 20, 2005 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    No more fire reporting (#83), David — looks like password control has locked up the webcams. We don’t have the full story — maybe there’s been some problems; but in the aftermath of the story behind post 83, this appears to be a short-sighted call by the cam owners.

    OTOH, and on a different subject, Google-earth is powerful and cool!

  105. Sara
    Posted December 23, 2005 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    i’ve been hearing a lot of myths about hicks road lately. A friend of mine told me that strange things happen up there at night, is thats true? Because me and my brother areplanning to take a drive up there at night (just to see what all the commotion is about), but im not about to do it if its haunted! And what about the albinos living up there? Do they live in their own little community?

  106. Sara
    Posted December 23, 2005 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    i’ve been hearing a lot of myths about hicks road lately. A friend of mine told me that strange things happen up there at night, is thats true? Because me and my brother areplanning to take a drive up there at night (just to see what all the commotion is about), but im not about to do it if its haunted! And what about the albinos living up there? Do they live in their own little community?

  107. Sara
    Posted December 23, 2005 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    i’ve been hearing a lot of myths about hicks road lately. A friend of mine told me that strange things happen up there at night, is thats true? Because me and my brother areplanning to take a drive up there at night (just to see what all the commotion is about), but im not about to do it if its haunted! And what about the albinos living up there? Do they live in their own little community?

  108. David
    Posted December 25, 2005 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Sara-Sure a lot of crazy stuff happens up there, not nessessarily at night, though. If your planning a trip up there and it if it is commotion you’re looking for, the higher you go on Mt. Umunhum Rd., the more commotion there could be.

    Re Albinos-If there are albinos (I have my doubts), they would either have to be located just before the private property off of Umunhum road, or higher up on the ridge-I discovered (with the help of Google Earth) another trailer park located just south of when Mt. Umunhum rd. meets the ridge. This is well within private property, and I’d imagine that these guys would be more hostile than the ones down Mt. Um rd, so be careful!!!

  109. David
    Posted December 25, 2005 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Sucks about the cameras, HOWEVER, the security camera (labeled Mt. Umunhum Quad) I believe doesnt need a password to be viewed.

  110. Dom
    Posted December 26, 2005 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this, I did much the same thing when I was in high school and lived in Almaden. It seems from your descriptions the security has become lax from what it was. I was chased by some crazy guy ( we still talk about this nut case when old high school friends get together) in a jeep the first time we made it to the top. The security lamp on Mt Umunhum road on the main approach used to flash red lights and make an audible noise in between 1996-1998. In 96′ We hiked up at night (read: STUPID) and when we got to the main gate, the camera flashed the red light made the squealing noise and then we kept going; within about 15 seconds some giant light turned on on the road either at the guard shack or behind it, and the same nut case, this time in a station wagon chased us down the hill. I don’t think there are any albino’s up there but my friend at the time Dad was a Santa Clara County Sheriff told us to keep away because they have had their share of bizarre calls from the area. My question for you guys is any one been up to Mount Thayer?? I remember the site up there was interesting as well…

    Good Luck!


  111. David
    Posted December 26, 2005 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Cool stories Dom!

    Bob Burd has made it to the summit of Mt. Thayer. I myself have been very close, and I’ll bag it when I get the chance. You’ll find a nice pic of the summit of Thayer on his trip report here.

  112. David
    Posted January 1, 2006 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Bad news: the imobile security have also been taken off of

  113. Name
    Posted January 14, 2006 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Your Comments

  114. Scott
    Posted January 14, 2006 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Sorry the cameras were locked because they are used for site operations and not for play. There was just to much use on the pan/tilt cameras and often the camera was left in a positon to have the sun damage the optics. I know this is all a lot of fun for all but we do run a communications business at these sites, and the cameras are a useful tool for operations.

    Your all correct, the views and sites are all great form the top. And I bet none of you who read and comment here have ever damage or stolen equipment from the base or the communications sites, however there are that have and those who still do. This is why the gates on on the road are locked and base is still closed. It is allways the other guy but at a remote site like these what else can one do?

  115. Scott
    Posted January 14, 2006 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Sorry the cameras were locked because they are used for site operations and not for play. There was just to much use on the pan/tilt cameras and often the camera was left in a positon to have the sun damage the optics. I know this is all a lot of fun for all but we do run a communications business at these sites, and the cameras are a useful tool for operations.

    Your all correct, the views and sites are all great form the top. And I bet none of you who read and comment here have ever damage or stolen equipment from the base or the communications sites, however there are that have and those who still do. This is why the gates on on the road are locked and base is still closed. It is allways the other guy but at a remote site like these what else can one do?

  116. James
    Posted January 15, 2006 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Based on this page

    I was surprized that McQueen let you go without a problem

  117. David
    Posted January 15, 2006 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The article was probably referring Mr. McQueen to Loren McQueen, Scott’s father.

  118. Clint
    Posted January 16, 2006 at 12:36 pm | Permalink


    Is there a way we can work something out with Mr. McQueen.

    Kind of a biker, hiker neighborhood watch.

    I have biked up to the spot on the road where you can see the coast.

    I love the view.

    The last time I ran into what I am guessing to be Mr. McQueen.

    It wasn’t any fun.

    I understand his issues.

    Can we work something out?

  119. Clint
    Posted January 16, 2006 at 12:36 pm | Permalink


    Is there a way we can work something out with Mr. McQueen.

    Kind of a biker, hiker neighborhood watch.

    I have biked up to the spot on the road where you can see the coast.

    I love the view.

    The last time I ran into what I am guessing to be Mr. McQueen.

    It wasn’t any fun.

    I understand his issues.

    Can we work something out?

  120. David
    Posted January 16, 2006 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Clint-interesting idea. What spot did you bike to where you got caught?

  121. David
    Posted January 16, 2006 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Sidenote-nothing really to do with Umunhum, but I rode my bike from Loma Prieta down Mt Madonna/Summit Rd, through the so called private property. Referring to comment 53 “Methamphetemine production has been noted is several locations in the general area. Maymens Flat seems the worst.” We rode by Maymen’s Flat, and its all a bunch of trailers clumped together, a surperb area for meth labs. The ride was pretty nice, and the rode is actually public, unlike the signs suggest.

  122. Clint
    Posted January 17, 2006 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I was stopped well past the “armed guards patroll this area”, very close to the four way.

    That’s where I get the view.

    Can you get to the top of Loma Prieta from Hicks rd?

    I look on google satellite map and see a route but I worry that I would run into more trouble.

    Just lookin for a Umunhum like ride with view of the coast.

  123. David
    Posted January 19, 2006 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    There is a ride possible from Hicks Rd. that goes to Loma Prieta, yet it would have to include some negotiating through private property. You would have to go up Mt. Um Road to the ridge, and from there, head south along Loma Ridge Rd. This section of road (dirt), is for the most part in Sierra Azul OPen SPace property, yet there are a few parcels along this ridge that are private property. One is just as you turn south onto Loma Ridge, where there is a small trailer-park sort of thing. The second is a bit further up the ridge, near the interection of where Cathermola/Metcalf Rd turns down to Lake Elsman. Same thing, a small trailer park, yet it is off the main road a little. Once you get closer to Loma Prieta, the Open SPace property disapears (you’ll go through a MPOSD gate), and you can easily ride up to the summit of Loma Prieta. I have yet to try this ride, yet I would imagine that it would give you some really nice views of the coast.

  124. kevin
    Posted January 20, 2006 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    “Also, access to the open space area is disputed by a major landowner, Mr. McQueen, who zealously guards the many radio transmitters on his ridge top from would-be trespassers.”

    More than a bit inflammatory — McQueen property including tower areas are simply private property. The restricted access to MtUm’s former Almaden AFS is enforced by MROSD — owner of that land. If you get there without hitting McQueen or other private land, your problems are with MROSD. As posted on this thread, there is access away from private land and the disputed (not court-tested) areas.

  125. Clint
    Posted February 6, 2006 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    It is become clear to me that we must befriend Mountain Man McQueen. The way Kevin Cosner made friends with the wolf in “Dances with Wolves”. Although I don’t think scrapes of meet will keep the peace. I thought offering up an IPOD as I work at Apple but I still didn’t think this would appease Mr. McQueen. Then it came to me, we must offer up Kevin as a sacrifice for the past wrong doings to the mountain people.

    But seriously, is there some way he could see us as a plus? probably not.


    If you would be interested I would like to try this ride this Saturday. We could meet at the Gaudalupe damm.

  126. Brian
    Posted February 6, 2006 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    How far up Mt Um Road can you get by car.

  127. David
    Posted February 9, 2006 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    1.6 miles from Hicks Rd. to gate SA-08. You can walk 1.3 miles after that until you get to private property. (continue, if you’d like 😉 )

  128. Ed
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I am curious about access from the LP end. According to Google Earth their appears to be some buildings/trailers about half a mile from LP mountain on LP Road. Can anyone tell me about this area?

  129. David
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Loma Ridge is mostly Open SPace Property, omit those two trailer parks. Access from L-P to Um would be a great hike or bike ride. No cars, there is a gate closer to L-P. You’d have to be careful going by the trailer parks, other than that, its a pretty good route to Um.

  130. Ed
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I would be walking. Slipping by these trailer parks on foot seems difficult. Any idea if they have any canine members? The prospect of meeting the clan from Deliverance is bad enough without having to deal with unchained hounds.

  131. David
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    It should be no problem on foot…K-9s are closer to L-P. Yet, I’d rather come into contact with the people closer to L-P than to Um. The tough spots would be half way to Umunhum, and approaching Umunhum road, those being the spots where the Deliverance clan would be.

  132. David
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Check this site out for some sweet pics of Loma Ridge.

  133. Anonymous
    Posted February 14, 2006 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, this area is patrolled by MROSD is closed to public access due in part to intervening private property. The roughly 8 mile walking hike makes discovery and pickup possible and perhaps likely from MROSD, or worse from the private property owners. Contrast that risk of county sheriff arrest to a bicycle trip of 1/5th the time.

    In addition, there is no way on this route to approach the old Almaden AFS area without trespassing extensively on McQueen property. Note: bikers rarely go to the AFS, but instead shortcut briefly through McQueen property on their way down Mt Umunhum road. This is a much less sensitive, but still illegal encroachment, in my opinion.

  134. Lyle
    Posted February 19, 2006 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Here is what I want to do… legally… get from the bottom of Old Almaden Museum all the way to Lake Elseman via Mt Umunum. What is the best way to get there through the mountains?

  135. David
    Posted February 21, 2006 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    That’s bascillay the most illegal hike anyone can do. I’m not familiar with the museum, but from Mt. Umunhum to Lake Elsman, you’d have to go down Austrian Gulch.

  136. James
    Posted March 6, 2006 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    me and a buddy recently assaulted umunhum, we took the SA09 trail and about a half mile or so down we cut off to the left and made our own, there was a ton of snow which made our hike difficult, we came up behind the cube. we were up there for about half an hour and decided to head back down, we couldnt go back the way we came so we decided to walk down umunhum then we came across a camera right by the access road to the dopler radar thing. the rangers stopped us about 200ft from there and seized our memeory card out of our camera and gave us tickets! they were cool though. we were just stupid for trying to chance it down that road. when we get our memory card back i will post up some pics or something, we got some really good ones

  137. David
    Posted March 6, 2006 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Interesting-next time I’ll hide my memory card under my tounge! How bad were the tickets? I wish I could’ve fit in a trip up there with the snow, but my schedule only allowed a trip up to Loma Prieta to check it out.

  138. Anonymous
    Posted March 7, 2006 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Do you suspect you were on candid camera?

  139. kacey
    Posted March 10, 2006 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    wow….i just rea 138 posts…i am OBSESSED with local nature and Mt. Umunhum is the thorn in my side that will not go away. i want to know everything about it and can’t stop reading this website. who lives up there? who are the McQueens? can they be contacted by email/phone/anything!? i work at starbucks. i’ll get them coffee. please email me anything interesting about this mountain/answers to my questions.


  140. Matt
    Posted March 19, 2006 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I have an “albino” story. On the Fourth of July in the summer of 1998 some friends and I took Hicks Rd back from Santa Cruz to San Jose. It was about 10 P.M. I had heard stories of albinos living in Old Almaden who shot at airplanes that flew overhead, but never heard anything about Hicks Rd. About 10 minutes after someone started talking about the albinos, we passed a large white van to the right; sitting where a dirt road met Mt.Umunhum Road. It’s headlights were out meaning it was just sitting there, not waiting to turn on to Mt.Um road or anything. It happened so quickly it’s almost a blur, but I’ll never forget seeing two bald men in the front seat illuminated only by moonlight. It still creeps me out to think about it. They didn’t pull out and follow us or anything. They just sat there and watched us drive by. Both cars made eye contact with each other. It was a very creepy experience and I avoided Hicks Road for years.

    I’m heading up to Bald Mountain tomorrow for the first time. It’ll be my first time up to the Umunhum area since that incident in 1998!

  141. Matt
    Posted March 19, 2006 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    “…sitting where a dirt road met Mt.Umunhum Road…”

    Sorry. I mean where a dirt road met Hicks Rd.

  142. Matt
    Posted March 19, 2006 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    How did/do you folks find out the names of the propert owners?

  143. Matt
    Posted March 19, 2006 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Interesting link:

    “The GSA (General Services Administration) had promised before escrow closed that the federal government would take full responsibility for removing the substances and decontaminating the property.”

  144. Matt Again
    Posted March 19, 2006 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Loren R. “Mac” McQueen has got to be pretty old because fromw hat I keep reading, he’s been leasing property on Mt.Um since the 1950’s. I can only assume that the property would fall into some next of kin’s hands, but I still wonder what will happen when he passes on?

  145. Matt again!
    Posted March 19, 2006 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    ‘Mount Umunhum, where the legendary Loren McQueen ruled, was good to KKUP, cost-wise. The McQueen family had owned mountain property since the early 1900s and, according to people with business on the mountain, McQueen often patrolled his property in a jeep with a racked rifle or shotgun.

    “McQueen liked to practice the art of intimidation,” Jang recalled, “but he generously offered us a place for $1 a year, and we were grateful.” ‘

  146. Rad
    Posted March 21, 2006 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    heres a site with forums on illegal peaks in the SF bay area, including Mt Umunhum.

  147. David
    Posted March 21, 2006 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    What Rad meant was here.

  148. Matt
    Posted March 22, 2006 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if this has been posted before, but couldn’t one just hike up Woods and make a left on Barlow Road, proceed until you’re under the summit and just hike more or less straight up to it? There’s no private property on the way, and you wouldn’t trespass until you hit Mt.Umunhum.

    Do the McQueen’s own the land on the opposite side of the Santa Clara valley?

  149. David
    Posted March 22, 2006 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Matt, your describtion would either be the Northeast Ridge or The Guadalupe Creek route up to the summit. These routes are what I recommend most for the peak, since your always on park property (even at the summit) and there’s nobody on that side of the mountain.

    Re McQueens: They own land on Mt. Allison, by Mission Peak, above Fremont, but that is the ony land they own on that side of the valley.

  150. Matt
    Posted March 23, 2006 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I headed up to Bald Mountain yesterday for the first time. It was crazy being so close to the monolith, yet so far away. Upon arrival at gate SA-08 we got out of the car and loaded up our camera and lunches. I heard a car coming up the road. About a minute later a brown truck/small SUV (can’t remember which) comes into view and I smile at the driver. The guy doesn’t even look at me! My girlfriend and I are the only two people within miles and he doesn’t even look our direction. Doesn’t that seem weird? So he proceeds to unlock gate SA-08 and drive thru. Could he have been a McQueen? All I remember about him is that he had a mustache and dark hair. About 20-30 minutes later I saw a vehicle coming down the road from beyond gate SA-08, but I couldn’t verify if it was the same vehicle that I saw drive in because we were at the peak of Bald Mountain.

    Anyone recognize the car or the guy?

  151. Rad
    Posted March 23, 2006 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    McQueen had graying hair and no mustache last time I saw him, so I doubt it was him.

  152. Matt
    Posted March 24, 2006 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Yeah, this guy was in his early 40’s maybe. I knew it wasn’t Loren, but I thought it might have been one of his sons or something.

  153. Scott McQueen
    Posted March 24, 2006 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    it is funny to read about my self, and the stories of the mountain. We do not live on the mountain. It is only our business. And you know I cannot even visit the summit where the block building is either unless I have permission. Because I respect the landand property of Mid Pen, You see we share the access and both own properity on the mountain. we do not own all of the mountain. And the last gate onto the old base is locked by Mid pen for safety issues. A small city falling apart is not a safe place to walk around.

    At the brown sa-o8 gate you will meet many homeowners (sometimes me) but not often unless a problem with our sites. And yes we own Mt. allison sourrouned by East Bay Regional Park on the other side of the valley.

    So if you realy have a question and would like to get a straight answer about wha is up, give me a call durning week at 377-2900

    have a good weeekend.

  154. Adam
    Posted March 30, 2006 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been up to the top about 3 times in the last year. i just went straight past the gates and cameras and stuff and climbed the fences. i only got botherd once when going up there and they said that its dangerous cause of all the abestos adn shti…. climbin thru the hatch to the top of the cube

    chillen on the top
  155. David
    Posted March 30, 2006 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Nice pics!

  156. Rad
    Posted March 31, 2006 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Hey Adam, how did you get into the box. I’ve been up twice and both times the doors were locked. I’ve heard that there is another way in but I don’t know where it is.

  157. David
    Posted April 1, 2006 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Yay, Rad and I got to the summit by way of the NE ridge today. We tried to get into the box, but the doors were locked, and we didn’t see anyway in except for a possible vent, which would have been a squeeze. We spent a good hour-hour and a half on the upper part of the base, just checking it out. I noticed some workers over at Tomita Hill, but didn’t pay too much attention. When we made our way down the road into the part of the base, we had to ditch the road becasue of a ranger coming up the road. Spent a good 15 minutes in the brush along side the road, and waited for the ranger to come back down the road. We then high-talied it back up to the summit, where we made our way down Guad Creek (which in itself was difficult this time of year). The NE ridge was a fun route on the upper slopes near the summit, but it kinda sucked because there is a moderate amount of bushwhacking to do near Barlow Road. Compared to Guad Creek, I like the NE ridge better when Guad Creek is flowing.

  158. kevin
    Posted April 2, 2006 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    David –

    Later this week, report if you get poison oak — and if not, how you believe you avoided it while bushwhacking. It’s not as visible this time of year; and with the cold+wet weather it may be semi- (though not totally) dormant. Can you also estimate the time differences, between routes?

  159. David
    Posted April 3, 2006 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    No P-Oak yet, though its only Monday. As for the times: Guad Creek would seem a bit shorter when the creek is dry. When I went up Guad Creek last November, it took us just over an hour from the bottom to the top. From Barlow Rd. to the summit via the NE ridge, it took us about 1 hr. and 15 minutes-ish. The hard part of the NE ridge is the beginning, where most of the bushwhacking takes place.

  160. Trail Boss 5000
    Posted April 3, 2006 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I know a possible way to MTN bike some sweet singletrack on public land from Woods trail over the summit to Ralphs Mtn. The trail is there but needs a little trimming back. Aerial photographs suggest that the trail has been there forever. (You have to love Google maps). Currently it’s probably being used by pot farmer’s. But now I want it for a piece of priceless singletrack that will connect a large portion of open space to another. We will keep you posted on our progress. By posting this I’m hoping that some of you will get involved and help trim the trail back so that it is rideable. That way I won’t have to do it all myself. From my estimates it would only take 8 people armed with a hand saw and clippers about 6 hrs to complete. And then maybe another couple to clean up. Some might say that we are building on Illegal trail but I disagree. It is already there!!! So do your homework find the link and start clearing. Then you could could hike within a half mile or so to Mt Uminumn. And for the most part,not be tresspassing onto Uncle Fester’s Pot and Meth lab.Good luck

  161. David
    Posted April 3, 2006 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    If you are talking about the faint trail from El Sombroso to the ridge between Mt. Th and Mt. Um, you’ll have a lot of trimming to do! But I support this project 100%, seeing I am a mtn biker myself. That ride would be amazing along the ridge, then the descent from Mt. Thayer to Ralph’s Mtn would be amazing. I have seen this trail you are talking about from Google Earth, and it looks like a nice ride if its fixed. Good luck!

  162. Adam
    Posted April 4, 2006 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    All three times i went there the doors were opend. the last time i went there there was a 2×4 with nails sticking up right on the inside… i stepped right over it adn then realized what it was. be careful for that shit. if you really want a thrill you can do waht we did and climb the radio tower on the top of the cube… now thats a rush… I don’t think i’ll be going back to the base though i’ve been in every building and seen it enogh times… i wish i knew of other spots like this to explore…

  163. trail boss 5000
    Posted April 4, 2006 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    It’s actually not that bad at all. Give me 8 men,tools, some food and a backpack full of beer and we could pull it of in a day. Who’s in?

  164. Adam
    Posted April 6, 2006 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m down, i ride the mountian trails on my 20″

  165. David
    Posted April 6, 2006 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m also down for this trail. Sounds cool.

    Kevin- I got poison oak. Not a horrible case of it, but enough to annoy the heck out of me. I wore long sleeves up the ridge, and Rad wore long sleeved shirt, but shorts, and he has it worse than me. Go on this route when the poison oak isn’t as thriving.

  166. kevin
    Posted April 8, 2006 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Tough break — I had hopes. My experience is the outbreak peaks at 6-7 days, so your close to the worst of it (if that’s a guide). Strenuously physical bushwhacking gets me in the face in any season. Even with full garb and gloves, I always do some reflexive perspiration wipe-aways that transfer the urushiol to my face and eyelids. If I don’t where the protective clothing, I get it directly — if I do, the heat build up and sweating does the trick. And without stripping on site, transferring the urushiol from clothes to car seats become problematic for reexposure.

    ASAP showers and FULL clothes and boot wipes/washes with Tecnu do help, but there’s no substitute for a relatively clear trail.

    Here’s a FAQ I trust for good info: I believe this part the most, “the alternative is to never go anywhere fun.” And that is a price I’m not willing to pay without best practices.

  167. Bob
    Posted April 8, 2006 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Yikes, be careful with the poison oak guys! By this point in my bushwacking career I’m extremely allergic–guess my Mt. Umunhum assaults will have to stay on the road!

    Regarding that though, I just heard from an old friend that he made the assault from the other side of the road (Loma Prieta) without any problem. Still not legal, but hopefully opening up…

  168. Rad
    Posted April 9, 2006 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I got poison oak EVERYWHERE!! I’m still miserable and it’s been a week since the hike. Northeast Ridge sucks.

  169. Anonymous
    Posted April 10, 2006 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear that Rad.

    Re: reinfection. Use latex gloves to handle/wash all your clothes in cold water. Then make sure you hose down your boots and laces, and then wipe both down again with a Tecnu soaked cloth. Leather boots and leather (or cloth) laces hold the urushiol that you walked through on NE ridge. From boots to hands to ??? again, if you don’t.

    Something that David and I spoke about at the OpenSpace mtg — I still believe the NE ridge is the most environmentally friendly path to the peak. Steps/trail along the ridge will be easier grade to maintain, have much less erosion than GuadCreek, and not trespass. Of course the P-Oak will have to be cleared.

  170. kevin
    Posted April 10, 2006 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    169 was mine.

  171. james
    Posted April 12, 2006 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    sorry i havent responded to any of your questions. David, i dont know how bad the tickets are yet, i have a court date on the 18th to find out. me and my buddy took some really cool pics up there, i should get my memory card back the day of the court date, ill be sure to post my pics up asap…and another question, how did the guys in the pictures get up to the top, when we went there the doors were welded shut! someone get back to me on that one please

  172. Danny
    Posted April 17, 2006 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Where is the NE Ridge and how can you get to it? Is it off of Mt. Umunhum Rd.? And is the entire trail on public propert up to the fence surrounding AVAFS? My buddies and I want to make the venture up, but we want to do it as much on public land as possible. Is there a google map image of the NE Ridge trail highlighted somewhere?

  173. Danny
    Posted April 17, 2006 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I also hear Soda Springs Rd. is a good trail. Does this stay on public propert up until the base?

  174. David
    Posted April 18, 2006 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    The NE ridge is, as you can guess, on the north east side of Um. You approach it from Mt. Umunhum rd., by taking Barlow Road, past Guadalupe Creek and right to the ridge. A small fireroad-type of thing leaves the trail at the ridge and heads up to the left. This soon becomes a very small trail and soon there is basically no trail. Don’t do the NE ridge unless you are comfortable with getting poison oak, cause you’ll get it. The plus side is that it does stay on park property until the fence.

    Soda Springs Rd is a little more difficult seeing that it does pass through some private property at the beginning gate, then goes into park property, then back to private, then back to park when you get to the base. No chance you’ll get poison oak, though. 😉

  175. Danny
    Posted April 18, 2006 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Are there any images of maps and routes (NE ridge, soda springs, sa09, etc) detailing the paths and how to acces them?

  176. David
    Posted April 19, 2006 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Danny, there aren’t any I know of on the net but I can compile some stuff on Google earth for you and then send them to you if you’d like. I just need your email adress.

  177. Danny
    Posted April 22, 2006 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    That’d be great David. I’m trying to compile a map complete with as many trails as I can find. Anything you could do would be so much help. My email is Thanks!

  178. kevin
    Posted April 23, 2006 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Maps — in addition to the online stuff (Google:Earth, NASA Worldwind, and, I bought and use NatGeo’s Topo for my CA hiking needs. Many old Sierra Azul trails and fire roads are visible along with private* property lines. You also have the ability to pan and print your map to the exact area and with useful resolution, including a trail elevation plot of your proposed path – a great value.

    Take the Guad-Creek route for example; using Topo with the elevation overlay, it is clear why that route is doable without a hill-of-death. It also shows why the hill-of-death routes are well named for most of us weekend hikers. It also adds to your investigation on the promise the NE ridge route. Finally, you can print to a color-waterproof and carry version for your hike. Unfortunately, it does not identify poison oak.

    • Re: private property, I cited a Topo-CA discrepancy in one of my error and correction discussions with cartographer Matt Sagues at MROSD. Matt then investigated and verified correct, the recent property line adjustments, that Topo had already used (pretty good for a retail SW packege). The MROSD online version on was then modified to reflect the recent changes.
  179. Mike
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    ok, im a cyclist and i want to get to the box because of the nice veiw and bragging rights. however, all this armed guard and pot farms and stuff have me a little scared. some people have said those were established for the air force and dont apply anymore but im still skeptical. i also have a mt bike map which shows a gate on the right of mt umunhum rd in betweent the barlow trailhead and the no tresspassing signs. it is called the san fransisco peninsula and santa cruz mountains mountain biking map form krebbs cycle products so i was wondering if the gate provided any access w/o tresspasing signs

  180. kevin
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    8X — a new record!

    Regarding the “in between” gate — this is either the fenced “no trespass” frontage spur that returns to MtUm road further up (also “no trespass” from that direction), or this is the trail spur that winds a bit before ending well down from MtUm.

    Regardess, any non-returning path west off MtUm Rd, after the Barlow/SA09 gate becomes overgrown and/or ends in private property. MtBikers really have no off-road options (unless you can backpack your bike while bushwhacking).

  181. Ricky
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    James and I went up hiking to Umunhum, and after the court date, we got fined 297 dollars and 2 misdemeanors on our record. The pics will be soon, ill post them up. How did you get in the box? It was welded shut.

  182. David
    Posted May 9, 2006 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Ouch, that’s steep.

  183. Ed
    Posted May 27, 2006 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I am looking for some company for a hike up to the AF stationon Mt Um. Anyone interested, write me at

  184. kevin
    Posted May 29, 2006 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    One “company” comes to mind — Bad Boys Bail Bonds?

  185. Ed
    Posted May 31, 2006 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Well, as part of my preparation, I think I will look up their number also. Thanks for the suggestion.

  186. Danny
    Posted June 6, 2006 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Hey, if anyone is goin up to the Box anytime soon, please send me an email at . I have a very important request (which may keep me from getting a fine/misdeamenor on my record.) Thanks.

  187. David
    Posted June 13, 2006 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Something I found out from an inside source recently: there are two trailers just north of Tomita Hill and the communications towers on a fire road that eventually turns into the bushwack hell that leads to El Sombroso. They are located in a grove of cedar trees or something, very isolated! They’re inhabited too! Check it out, its barely visible on Google Earth. These wouldn’t pose as a problem with access unless you are coming from El Sombroso along the bushwack ridge. Freaky!!

  188. David
    Posted June 13, 2006 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Anoher thing: try out globe xplorer for exploring the trailer parks around Um. It shows way more detail than Google Earth, yet is a little harder to navigate, but its still cool.

  189. kevin
    Posted June 25, 2006 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    One problem is that it is private property, and not MROSD land. Anything above ~2700′, including the forked headwaters of Rincon Creek are not MROSD. The trail from El Sombroso is near 3000′ before you move SW toward Mt Thayer;. If you bushwhack (no trail connenction) ESE off the ridge toward those trailers (crossing the Mt Thayer-Rincon headwaters fork), toward Mt Tomita and later MtUm, you hit private property about ‘300’ lower.

  190. Jared
    Posted June 30, 2006 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Sometime last month, I finally made it to the top of the mountain. I chose the NE ridge (trip report at, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I had an amazing time once I reached the summit. I took a bunch of pictures along the way. Unfortunately, though, the law took my bunch of pictures.

    I was riding high with a feeling of success from making it to the summit, exploring the entire area, and making it back to public land without getting caught. I guess I could blame a feeling of elation for why I confessed to an MROSD ranger that I was trespassing at Mt. Umunhum; however, I blame it on being a moron. Needless to say, the ranger took the CF card from my camera, wrote me a citation, and sent me on my way.

    I was arraigned for the citation and the judge was kind enough to dismiss the case. Now I need to get my CF card back. The problem is, I have no idea who I am supposed to call because there isn’t a contact number on my receipt for property form. I know some of you have been through this situation, so I hope someone can offer some advice. I can be reached at the email address in post #49 above.

  191. cambrianguy
    Posted June 30, 2006 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Today, I visited Mt. Umunhum. Well, I’ll be honest in stating up front that I was on the grounds of the base and did NOT go to the radar tower. More on that later… please read on…

    Z06 vs Mt Hamilton

    It started with an itch to drive an awesome “machine” up a big hill. I was working from home it was a slow day. It was a real nice day outside, so I decided to take a drive in my Z06 to Mt Hamilton (

    While atop Mt Hamilton at the Lick Observatory, I noticed Mt. Umunhum across the valley. I live near it… Camden and 85 and always see the “monolith” up on the mountain when driving in around town. I always wondered what it would be like to be up there. My daughter always says “Daddy, look at that house on the mountain”.

    Doing my homework.

    I started Googling everything on Mt Umunhum and was inundated with that I found. I came across urban exploration sites, Google groups threads, historical military sites, radar museum web sites, misc other sites on peoples’ trips up there, a bunch of MSORD stuff, etc. It took me almost a week to read all the sites and basically educate myself to the fullest on this mountain before I attempted any trip up there.

    After reading so many posts about bad encounters with local residents on the hill, MSORD rangers, Sherriff patrols, etc, I was reluctant to attempt to hike up there. Yet I really wanted to get pics of the views up there and just see the site up close.

    I’m a family man.. have a wife and two kids, work a full time job, live in the “Asphalt Jungle” known as Silicon Valley and have been here all my life in Santa Clara and San Jose. I’m not of an “urban explorer” in that I definitely don’t want to trespass or, even worse, get caught doing it. Sure the fines and penalty might be small, but it’s the ETHICAL and MORAL drivers behind it that lead me to not attempt to trespass on this mountain. Yet still, I really wanted the views and pics! What is it about this mountain that is so alluring and magnetic?


    All of you make reference to a man named “Rick” who drives a red Jeep. Some of you have had rather peaceful encounters with this man and some of you have not. Bottom line, if you met this man on that mountain, you were most likely trespassing. Some people argue that the land is public all the way up to the Almaden AFS gate (and the gate to the NOAA Doppler radar dome access road on McQueen Ridge), and some people say it’s private property. Think about this…. if one or more residents put up any “No Trespassing” signs and they were on legally public land, wouldn’t the MSORD or the county Sherriff (or more importantly, CDF!) have them removed? No, that’s because it IS private property. If anything, the surrounding authorities may have access to put out a fire or apprehend some would-be drug dealers/cultivators, or cite some trespassers, but the fact that the No Trespassing signs exist and have not been removed should tell you that those areas are indeed private. Maybe the sings are down far enough to be considered public property… the fact still remains…they warn of impending trespassing should you choose to continue forward (hence the presence of several signs/gates…not just one). Think of it as “you get three warnings”.

    Anyway, I really wanted to get up there so I did the next best (and probably THE best thing) that I could do. I contacted a local resident.

    I did some homework on the ‘Net and made contact with “Rick”. Don’t ask me for his contact info…you do your homework (if you want to) and find it yourself. I respect this man’s privacy and will not give his contact info at all. What I can tell you, however, is that all of you are DEAD wrong about this man. You see… it turns out that this guy is a very nice man. Very polite. Very honest. Very understanding. We conversed through email back and forth for a week or two. In time, I simply asked and we arranged for me to drive up there and he gave me a personal tour of the hill. We planned it for today, June 30th, 2006.

    Day of ascent

    I met Rick at the first gate on Mt Umunhum Rd (where you park to hike to Bald Mountain….you can’t drive to Bald Mountain, BTW). Rick greeted me and we shook hands. He was a very stout man with a firm handshake. People always say you can learn a lot from just a person’s handshake. I could tell he was a man who has been through a lot in life just from his handshake. Rick unlocked the gate and re-locked it once I was on the other side and we both drove up the hill (he led the way). It was an erie ride. The road is deteriorating, riddles with potholes and weeds growing in the cracks. Dense brush often hangs in the roadway. Lane lines barely visible. I was in a Dodge Durango 5.9L SLT+ AWD 4×4 SUV (full time AWD) and at times, I almost lost traction due to the road debris, rocks, potholes, etc.

    At this point, I can safely assume I’m probably the only person on this board/forum who has “driven” up the mountain, no? If not, please speak up and tell your story.

    Rick’s turnout

    Our first stop was right at the turnoff to Rick’s residence. He didn’t take me on to his residence, nor did I want to go there… I respect the man’s privacy. At this first stop (some “gulch” which I can’t recall the exact name he told me), Rick told me about the fire in 1985(?) which swept through the summit and burned half of his land (no structures, though…just land). It was quite a scary event. He told me of how he was up all night with the fire around him… watering his home area and hoping he wouldn’t have to evacuate and lose all of his home. Can you imagine going through that? I’m sure it would put your life in perspective.

    NOAA Radome

    Next, Rick led me up the hill to the NOAA Doppler radar dome site. We came to the second gate on the road which he unlocked for me. This is where the security system is (I will not divulge details about it). I don’t know who owns this security system, nor do I care, but when I got to the NOAA Doppler site (read below), it became very apparent to me that high security on this mountain must be maintained. We came to the 3rd gate (just past the 2nd gate where the security system is). Rick unlocked it and we drove up.

    How many times have you watched the weather on the news and seen when they show the Doppler radar readings showing all the rain, etc coming into the bay area? How many times have you visited or and looked up the radar images? How many times do YOU rely on needing to know what the weather forecast is going to be? It’s not all satellites that give you this information, you know. It’s also most in part due to this this NOAA Doppler facility. It is an unmanned yard with several buildings on what is known as “McQueen’s Ridge”. One building appearing to be a diesel generator room… another as a control room for the radar, and another perhaps as a communications room where Doppler images and info are sent to some central weather station then to be aired to the associated press and/or local TV and radio stations. Rick told me that the buildings were pre-fab’d in Arkansas and trucked up the mountain to this site. Amazing given the narrow, winding, and poor quality road that I came up on.

    This was an impressive site. When you see the radar dome (radome) from afar, it pales in comparison to the old Almaden AFS radar tower. You might think it looks like a ball the size of a VW bug or something, but in reality, its the size of a small apartment! Its massive. Its fiberglass shell looks like a “hackysack” with it’s “stitching” pattern…almost like an eggshell with fractures in it. The diesel generator is noisy, but when it periodically shuts off, I was surprised at how quiet the radar is. I simply could not hear the radar rotating. Its dead quiet. Not even the sound of a rotation motor or anything. Nothing. Yet this gigantic radome houses a radar that provides such vital information to so many people and agencies. Truly a marvel to have visited this site. We descended down McQueen’s Ridge back to the main road.

    Gate 4 – Almaden AFS

    We came to the main gate on to the Almaden AFS grounds. This is a tattered looking gate. Tall, crooked, and yet so impeding to access beyond it. Like an age-old sentry watching guard on a deserted ghost town behind it. A thinner individual can crawl under the crooked opening in the bottom of one side, but don’t expect to stay clean doing it. I don’t think you can hike around this gate… it is strategically placed on a hillside with very dense trees and brush to either side…one side being a steep upward slope, and the other being a steep down slope. Once inside this gate, and Rick re-locked it, we entered onto the old Almaden AFS grounds. It was like riding through a ghost town. I could almost envision what it may have have been like when this was an active radar site between 1958 and 1980. As I drove past the pool (overtaken with cattails and God knows what else is in that water), I would try to picture what it would have been like to see a nice clean pool with Air Force personnel, dependents, and other site residents swimming in it. It must have been nice. We came to the maintanenc garage building…it looked like an old gas station in the desert. I wonder how many cars were serviced there…. the old cars of the 60’s and 70’s…the huge gas-eating V8’s and large body construction that made 60’s and 70’s cars synonymous with the word “bombers”.

    Erie presence

    After passing the garage and winding down to the left and behind it, we came to an area at the bottom of a saddle with several forks in the road. Behind me by the garage and to the far left was a road that leads down to the residential part of the AFS. Some structures looked old, tattered, barely able to stand…overtaken with dense vegetation growth. Yet others looked bright, white with life, almost seemingly new and remodeled… as if someone recently resided there. Yet there was no sign of any inhabitants that I could see… no vehicles…simply no sign of current life there. A ghost town. Who was here recently? Why? Does anyone know? What mysteries reside here? When I asked Rick how many residents lived up on the hill near him, he simply answered “it varies”. Perhaps there is some sort of low-rent housing for homeless people whi might be able to afford it? Who knows. I dared not ask more about it.

    Dogsleds on Umunhum?

    Also to the left after the garage, there was an open area where an old broken down truck and old rusting semi trailer were parked (perhaps remnants of the abandoned AFS, I assume). There was a shipping container there with some park benches and a flagpole which proudly carried a bright colored American flag, wavering in the wind. Strange… what was this place? I asked Rick and he told me that a group of people who own some land up there would bring Huskies there and train with dogsleds. They would come in both the summer and winter. When no snow was on the ground, the would use sleds with wheels on them. What an interesting story. Of all my research on this site, never have I head this story. Only from a local could you hear this. I wonder if the dog sledding group has a website with any images and historical information on their “playground” up on The Mountain. Perhaps they were training for the Itiderod race or something? (I went on Google just now and found some sites… seems Randee McQueen owns some sled dog breeding and some dogs and since it’s their land up there and have access to it, they train there. Interesting!

    The road to higher ground….respecting authority

    The road behind me back at the garage and to the right leads to the radar tower…the actual Mt. Umunhum site. Rick said there was another gate on the way up there. I didn’t go. Why did I come all that way and not summit? For many reasons… first and foremost…Rick asked me not to. I never intended for him to escort me onto the summit or into any buildings/structures. In time, maybe I might be able to do so, but I didn’t want to push it on my first meeting with Rick and The Mountain. I’m not in any hurry…the mountain isn’t going anywhere and the old Almaden AFS will be there for a while at least. There will be other times. In due time. Patience.

    Tomita Ridge/Hill

    The road directly ahead of me forks two ways. To the left, it proceeds along Tomita Ridge to the old GATR (Ground to Air Transmit and Receive) building…affectionately known as the “gator” site. We didn’t go there, but Rick told me that the old GATR building is heavily vandalized and a mess. The road which forks to the GATR site also forks and goes on to Soda Springs Road and down to Cupertino/Saratoga area. I’m sure this road would put you in encounters with many residents along the way up or down it. Not to mention there are several gates along this road as well.

    Rick unlocked the 5th gate which led up a narrow 1-lane dirt road to Tomita Hill. Here resides a multitude of communications devices. Antennae, dishes, towers, cell drums, repeaters, you name it. I didn’t know whether I should take pics or shield my privates from what might have been a tremendous amount if radio waves of all kinds up there. This is an enclosed site which I’m sure many agencies have access to in order to service their equipment/facilities there. There are even live web cams. It is believed that the McQueen family owns this site and rents the space to many agencies to house their communications equipment there. I snapped many photos up there. Unfortunately, the weather left some haze over the valley and I couldn’t get the clear shots that I wanted of the valley floor, but I got plenty of others.

    Talking with Rick

    Rick and I spent a lot of time talking up there on Tomita Hill. He told me about how conflicts with the local residents and the MSORD (MidPen) as well as MidPen’s initial cleanup efforts (where they removed the diesel tanks that once housed fuel for the Almaden AFS power generators). He told me that MSORD is a very political organization which has not been very helpful or understanding of the residents who live up there. Cleanup of the AFS should have occurred years ago. Toxic levels of lead and asbestos (known carcinogens) have kept MSORD from opening up the site to the public or transforming it into any type of public facility for scientific research or educational purposes. Not even a “monument” or shrine for the airmen who served there and their families/dependents who lived up there on “The Mountain” (hi Jack and Moonman!).

    Rick told me about the road below the AFS residential area which led to the pump house at Lake Elsman (where the AFS got their water from). He told me how once the pump house blew up and caused a fire there. The fire of 85 was believed to be caused by a security personnel who was a pyromaniac who started the fire on the other side near the GATR. It swept southward toward Rick’s place and almost burned McQueen Ridge in the process.

    We talked about some of his encounters with hikers, bikers, and squatters in the area. The local residents hate bikers there. Once a biker took a spill a hill and tried to sue MSORD. No wonder the local residents hate bikers up here.. if a biker were to get injured or killed while biking on private property (read: trespassing), there’s no telling who would try to sue the landowner. MSORD has money (and lots of it!!), but these locals up here are poor… some don’t work…barely living off retirement and others are out of work struggling to find another job. You think they can afford a lawyer to defend a wrongful lawsuit? Rick told me that most hikers up here are teenagers and young adults trying to just get to the monolith (AFS radar tower building) and snap a few pics, but doing that means you go right near or on private property for the nearby residents and most of all, you’re trespassing on MSORD land which is unsafe due to toxic levels of contaminants in and around the buildings of the AFS.


    After spending 30 minutes or so up on Tomita Hill, we departed. Rick unlocked/locked each gate on our way out of the AFS grounds. As I drove off the AFS grounds, I had a sense of loneliness. Almost like I was leaving some friends behind and venturing off on my own. We drove down to the first gate and talked a bit more. Rick told me of a couple of incidences. Once he came home one night and got to the first gate and there were 30 cars parked there, blocking the gate. There was a “stargazing” group on Bald Mountain and luckily the car that was blocking the gate had it’s owner right there and he moved to Rick could get through. That area is not a parking lot, it’s a dead. Rick told me once there was a stack of pallets in the middle of the road right there in front of the gate and they were on fire. Seems some kids had a “bonfire” and left it there. Not too smart in those dry hills. Arson can land you in prison for a long time… possible for life if it leads to a wildfire that kills somebody.

    He pointing out a bunch of glass on the side of edge of the road right in front of the gate. I said “bottles from kids drinking?”. “No”, he said, “that’s car window glass from people breaking into cars parked there while their owners are off hiking illegally up to the summit. Right there, that made me glad I didn’t park and try to hike up. And I saw a few cars heading up the road toward the gate on the way down…one looked like a guy just going for a drive, but the other cars looked like “shady” people. One can never be too safe up here.

    Respect the locals

    Imagine this…you’re up there and you get hurt… you fall and maybe break a leg or seriously injure yourself. Who’s going to help you? Your fellow hikers or bikers? Think again. Try “nobody”. You’ll be “lucky” if a local resident came to your aid. They would and certainly a lot faster than any local authorities would.

    You should be respectful of this area and it’s residents. Some of you are probably going to reply with “then why the gun-wielding craziness and threats?”. Well, I didn’t see any guns, nor did I ask about any. Does Rick have guns up there? Sure… with mountain lions, drug dealers, and God knows who else comes through his neck of the woods…you better believe he has guns. I don’t doubt it one bit. I’m not going to even discuss any threats or gun-wielding incidences as they are merely hearsay. If you were in any of those situations, then why didn’t you call the police? I’ll answer that for you….because you were trespassing, that’s why.

    Finally…here’s my pictures link.

    One final thought…

    I made a new friend today. Rick was a nice guy. Honest. Straight forward. Respectful. I’m glad I met this man and had the chance to get a personal tour of The Mountain from him. I’m sure I’ve only barely tapped into the many stories and events which he has to share. I sensed he liked the company. He told me he hesitated at first regarding my request to come up and tour the mountain, but that he ultimately went through with it because he respected my respect for him and that I emailed him and asked him, rather than just trespass illegally. He took me places where I’m sure a civilian (i.e. non maintenance) vehicle haven’t been for a while. I felt honored to have this man show me The Mountain in such detail (and we didn’t even talk much about the AFS).

    We shook hands again and I thanked him for the tour. As I left him there at the first gate and my truck started to roll forward down the hill, Rick left me with two final, yet powerful, words which are still stuck in my head and probably will be for a very long time. “Be kind”.

  192. cambrianguy
    Posted June 30, 2006 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    BTW, if you’re smart, you can figure out my email. Simple hint… the Mt Hamilton Pic URL.

  193. kevin
    Posted July 1, 2006 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your trip and access.

    It appears you’re responding to a number of MtUm forums with your link. I would caution you on painting all reader/posters here with too broad a brush (e.g. “All of you make reference …”). While you googled a lot about MtUm and AFS, careful reading of this site and direct links would have saved you a lot of other reading. Much of what you put in your excellent trip report was already here or linked directly from here, (security, NEXRAD,, Emily Rettner’s Hike, the remote hiking/climbing injury and numerous trespassing warnings). But no, we haven’t posted about the BASH Club and Randee McQueen, the CFO of CCI, although I’ve personally known of both for years. All that said, your up-to-date summary of all of this does have great value; thank you for that.

    FWIW – Rick, the McQueens and the other home/property owners are also subject to citation and arrest for trespassing on Almaden AFS just like us, for that is MROSD land and closed to the public. Had Rick taken you to the AFS without MROSD approval, well that would have told us something about him (and would be contrary to what is your otherwise fine report of him). Had you read the CCI website, you might have noticed this in McQueen Ridge/Tomita Hill Map pages – “WARNING: The base area is closed and off limits. This area is patrolled by County Sheriff and Open Space Rangers. If you are found on the base (exception of the road to the site) you can be sited and prosecuted.” NOTE: the GATR site is on Mt Thayer section (also closed MROSD land) – had Rick driven you there without their permission, well (same comment as before) …

    Your perception of the public vs. private property dilemma of the MtUm Almaden-AFS property access is inaccurate as it applies to this thread. It is only the road/roads that is/are in discussion and dispute, and not any of the clearly private property around it. I am confident, that the disputed legal facts of the ROADS are accurately portrayed in this MtUm thread – up to where you lumped it/them into a general private property rights discussion. Many of the roads of the Almaden-AFS and adjacent areas were funded publically, and therefore subject to legal rulings awarding easement in such cases, as have already been court-tested in the Summit-Madonna road areas near there. A lawsuit however has not specifically been undertaken, so the easement up to and across the MtUm L-P saddle has not been ruled upon.

    Rick (or in your translation of what he said) has also unfairly generalized the motives of those break-in victims who park their cars up there. Car window smash/break-ins occur both at the lower Jacques Ridge parking (MtUm Road and Hicks) as well as the upper Bald Mt shoulder parking, for those hiking legally to Bald Mountain, via Barlow Road, or Woods trail (to destinations beyond). If Rick truly knows those hiker victim’s motives to be true, one might be suspicious of his story – a conspiracy minded person might wonder if he knows the B&E criminals? And are they using B&E intimidation tactics to discourage legal (as well as illegal) access and hiking to MROSD lands? Again, your story is of an honorable man, so I reject that suspicion. But let’s remember, there’s at least two sides to all of this — owners, MROSD, the public and the freakin B&E criminals.

    Finally, welcome to the board; you’ve made a very nice contribution to the knowledge base. Great pic’s too! FYI — Rick’s turnoff appears to be above Austrian Gulch.

  194. cambrianguy
    Posted July 1, 2006 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments, Kevin.

    That’s just it… Rick didn’t (and wouldn’t) take me to the AFS. Everywhere he went, he had keys, so I highly doubt we were trespassing anywhere we went yesterday.

    You’re right on the “road” issue though. There’s an ongoing dispute about who owns the land the roads are on. To me, it looks like Rick owns his 40 acres which don’t necessarily include any of the roads that go “through” the AFS and then the McQueens own the last right adjacent to the AFS (accessibly by the roads that bisect the AFS) and MidPen owns the actual AFS land (and the some surrounding land nearby.

    As for the ridges, it looks like McQueen owns it all (at least that’s what it looks like to me). I could be wrong, but the McQueens probably make a lot of money subletting the land on the ridges to various communications agencies (including the land that his their company uses…they keep that for them).

    Take at look at their website… “Providing Communications Sites and Services throughout the Bay Area for 50 years”.

    That’s their business and that’s why they don’t want anyone in or near that area… their business and their customers’ and businesses (i.e. NOAA) are at stake.

    There’s no mistaking the sense behind that.. clear as a bell and I’d do the very same if it were my land.

    This is a very political battle and it’s pretty much a stalemate. Each side views the other as in the wrong.

    I wish someday it would all come to an end and a very peaceful agreement could be reached whereby the summit and it’s facilities could be turned into a beneficial scientific and educational institution for light day use by nearby schools, etc.

    To me, it sounds like MidPen is the biggest “bully on the block”, not the residents there. I’ve done nothing but read (on this board and others) about negative encounters with the locals there… until I actually experience it myself, I have no choice but to assume the residents are kind, people who are simply protecting their “neighborhood” and trying to prevent careless trespassers from getting injured as well as possible causing a fire. There’s not a single part about that which doesn’t make sense and it’s no different than any “neighborhood” watch program anywhere else. I’m not advocating being a vigilante, but with local authorities more than 30 minutes away at most, different circumstances call for different measures.

    It might sounds like I’m defending the residents up there and …well..I guess I am.

    I want to get up to the AFS (actualy on the grounds and the summit) and take pics and such and see it up front just as much as the next guy who is fascinated by it, but I will most certainly not do it illegally. I’ll take my time and contact the right people and get it legally.

    Part of the reason why I wanted to get pics of the summit and the valley floor from there was my daughter always points it out and I sort of promised her I’d get her pics. But after researching the site and it’s history, I’ve become very fascinated with it and feel like I have some deep sentimental value with it. Not sure why, but it just happened that way.

    I’ll continue to follow leads and contacts that can get me up there legally. Even if it’s the MSORD themselves! They’ve taken people up there before and they’ll do it again… it’s just a matter of getting to the right people. It’s very political and all about “who you know”.

    I’ll try to contribute more to the board in the future to the best that I can about this site.

    Also, I highly doubt that Rick is involved with any B&E criminals. He just didn’t seem like the kind of guy that would do that. To me, he seemed like a “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” kind of guy. Live and let live.

    In the meantime, I can only recommend what Rick told me…. Be Kind.

  195. David
    Posted July 3, 2006 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Good story. I have driven up there with Mcqueen before. BTW, cambrianguy, Im Umunhumkid from the UER forum, if you didnt know that already.

  196. cambrianguy
    Posted July 3, 2006 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    David, can you contact me offline? My email is posted on the UER forum after my long initial post on my visit.

  197. David
    Posted July 4, 2006 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I would, but now I “Don’t have enough access privledges to view this forum”. Can you still log on? If so, can you put in a good word for me? Its a really interesting forum, and Id like to continue to view and contribute to it.

  198. cambrianguy
    Posted July 4, 2006 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I think all you need to do is just register for a login and then you can view the threads and post.

  199. Matt (GWS)
    Posted July 13, 2006 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Cambrianguy, your story is great and the pictures are wonderful. Thanks for the contribution!

    I’m only gonna touch on a couple of things from your post.

    I’m with you on the fact that private property needs to be respected. It’s ridiculous that people think it’s ok to just walk across someone’s land and not expect to get in trouble. Some trip reports I’ve read on other illegal peak ascents on aother website seems to prove that some people just don’t seem to care about fences, and will happily walk right past them, hop over them, or trample them down for bragging rights. I can’t blame property owners for feeling somewhat insecure on this issue and feeling like they must take extreme measures (i.e. brandishing a weapon). With local police a good drive away, what else can you do to make sure they beleive you? You’ve basically got 800,000 people looking at a mountain everyday who would do almost anything just to see the view from the top and one or two people to stop you from walking through their property to get there. They’re not gonna make it easy on you and they sure don’t want you going home and telling your friends how easy it was to walk through their property.

    Regarding the private property warning signs and accusations of whether or not they’re actually on private property, well, we can speculate all day until we’re blue in the face but until we see a parcel map, we’ll never know for sure. If someone has an account at globe xplorer, you can do that there. Anyone willing to shell out the bucks and finally prove it? 🙂

    As far as any policing agency not making them move the signs if they’re false; well I think those signs being where they are keep a lot of people from going any further. That saves more than an hour’s drive for any cop who would theoretically get called out to an incident in the hills, at least the way I see it. That and the fact that things like this aren’t a high priority on any civic employee’s “things to look into” list.

    Like Kevin, I’ve also known of BASH and Randee for some time, but have been reluctant to contact him. I just don’t think I’d have anything productive to say. I’d just feel like I was bothering an already busy person.

    I personally think that when the marijuana farm was raided, it was our chance to bring all this Umunhum business to the front of the local section. So many people don’t even know what the monolith is, and by bringing it up, we could have possibly brought it’s history and it’s current situation to the eyes of hundreds of thousands of people, who could have rallied for it’s cleanup and opening.

    That would have been an ideal situation of course.

    The way it stands now, I see myself looking at a contaminated mountain top for a long, long time.

  200. David
    Posted July 14, 2006 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Contaminated or not, private property or not, there will always be people going up there.

  201. cambrianguy
    Posted July 14, 2006 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    David…right you are.

    Matt, I hear ya… that’s what I’ve been preaching.

    I think a cleanup effort is a long ways away, if at all. MROSD is very political and if there’s nothing in it for them, they’ll leave the site as is. Fences and gates and signs will not (and cannot) stop the determined hiker/biker, but a Sherrif or MROSD ranger patrol and a ticketbook (or handcuffs for damaging private property while trespassing, should that be the case) will definitely stop somebody.

    Like the saying goes… “You just can’t please everyone all of the time”.

    There are ways to hike to the summit and never touch private property, should one desire to (at time) crawl on hands and knees through dense brush, etc and pick up poison oak in the process. Still, once on the AAFS grounds, you’re outright trespassing and any County Sherriff, or MROSD Ranger is only a phone call away from the local residents. Last I checked, a sherriff patrol car or ranger pickup truck (and a Motorola, for that matter) is faster than a biker or hiker.

    Some people get a rush out of trespassing, others get a rush out of knowing they have the savvy to be able to get on the AFS ground legally in any way they can. To each his own.

  202. Matt (GWS)
    Posted July 14, 2006 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Cambrianguy, if you can, would you supply some info on the more political actions of MROSD? I guess I just don’t understand what they have to lose if they were to clean and open the property up. Do they not charge a day use fee for use of their properties (like state and county parks)? I’ve only been to one MROSD property, and that was Bald Mtn.

    By the way, I’m not trying to sound accusatory of your comment, just want to get all the info I can so I can make an informed opinion.

    As a completely off topic aside, I used to break in (those are such harsh words) to the old Fairchild plant on Bernal multiple times over a span of about two years when it was still standing. I never defaced any property or broke anything, it was just a marvelous thing to go and experience. A decrepit rotting cement building that was a haven for stoners and homeless people when I first started going in and exploring, and later turned into a secret paintball and graffiti site (I never participated in any of the above activities). That was a scary place and I guarantee it was about 5 times more dangerous than the monolith (we’re talking open elevator shafts and completely pitch black corners with holes in the floor dropping 3 stories). Puddles were always collecting water, broken pieces of anything lay everywhere, it was all just so amazing to me as a teenager. As a somewhat level-headed adult, I don’t think I’d go back in there without health insurance!

    I guess a little bit of history multiplied by empty buildings equals natural human curiosity.

  203. cambrianguy
    Posted July 14, 2006 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Matt, here’s the deal.. it’s easy to see, really..

    MidPen estimates around $2 Million to clean up the base, but that estimate is over 3 years old and it might today (with inflation and the progressed contamination) reach upwards of $4M to clean up. Then there’s the issue of building/structure stability. The Loma Prieta quake of 1989 (7.1 magnitute) did significant damage to some of the site and it’s structures. There are cracks in the 24 tower and some of the barracks are unsafe to enter due to structural instability (all from what I’ve seen in pics and not up front).

    Some people want to tear all of it down (I hope not!). MidPen is very political and doesn’t want to spend the mondy to clean up the site as it would lead to many other issues. For example, if they cleaned up the site and retrofitted all the structures which were salvageable, they would be urged to open it up to the public for hiking and visiting…then that would lead to the need for beefed up ranger patrols of the area…it would also lead to the county having to fork over lots of money to repair the very damaged roadways (tons of potholes and large cracks) and knock back all the non-native vegetation which is growing into and onto Mt Umunhum Road. There would also surely be push back from the local residents with all the inicreased traffic and possible trespassers on their property. Right now, there is a HUGE political battle between MidPen and the local landowners/residents. They are claiming that part of Mt. Umunhum Rd goes right through their land. It’s a very heated debate that’s been going on for many years now (since the mid 80’s in fact).

    So the easiest thing for MidPen to do is to just fence it off and not allow anyone up there, which is what they’ve done. Remember, MidPen gets its funding from a cut of sales tax and such… they get an estimated $19 Million yearly in funding to support their efforts of maintaining and patrolling the various Open Space Preserves which they own. Most taxpayers would not like to hear their money is going to a massive cleanup effort of a site that would provide very little educational benefit if converted to a “science camp” or other light day-use environmental/educational/scientific institution.

    Even if MidPen were to charge a fee for visiting the site (permit or other), it would certainly not recoop the cost that quick.

    Lastly, there’s not that much public interest in the site. A year ago or so, they started the “Friends of Umunhum” program andgave tours of the site. They were limited, but the intention was raise awareness of the area and the history and possible see if there is enough public interest to do something withit (if not for educational/scientific purposes, then maybe for a historical landmark or other).

    I recently spoke to MidPen and they no longer give the tours. Access is strictly prohibited and they no longer even give private tours of any kind (bummer).

    For now, it remains a forgotten ghost town.

  204. Jared
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    That’s a good argument for why the MROSD would want to keep the base closed. Even considering the unlikely possibility that the federal government would go back and clean up the mess, access to the top is a sticking point. The road and property situations are obvious, but an actual trail on MROSD land isn’t a likely possibility either due to the terrain.

    However, I find myself at odds with the law. The air base isn’t dangerous and I don’t fear lead or asbestos poisoning from visiting the site. Sure, one could jump from the exposed watch tower or jump into the overgrown swimming pool to never be seen again, but how likely is that? Personally, I feel the trip I took up there was completely worth the risk — the risk being a punishment many times more severe than the crime or the trip up.

    I understand why the base is off limits, but I disagree with the law trying to make an example of me in order to supposedly deter vandalism and trespassing. Mt. Umunhum is an amazing place to hike up to, and the view from the top is as great as they say it is. The mountain is a unique combination of cold-war military spending and natural beauty, and it’s a profound shame that it must remain off limits in the name of bureaucratic wranglings.

  205. cambrianguy
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Jared, did you ever get your CF card back? I’d love to see your pictures.

  206. Matt
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Cambrianguy, you’ve brought up a couple of points I never connected. I never thought about having to repave the roads, they are damn near undriveable.

    The thing about the mountain folk not wanting people driving on the road up to the summit (if it were to be opened, mind you) is ludicrous. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to realize that this might be the only tangible arguement that they can use to keep MidPen from advancing. It’s almost as if they’re prisoners who keep reappealing their case. They’ll just keep throing the road issue back at MidPen.

    When Henry W. Coe SP first opened up, no neighboring ranchers wanted hikers up there, and in their case I can at least understand their point because they were trying to ranch for profit; it was their livelihood. They didn’t want hikers and horseback riders accidentally trespassing and scaring their cattle or disturbing their crops. As far as I know, no one living near Mt.Umunhum is ranching or farming for money, they just don’t want people up there out of what appears to be selfishness.

    To this day you still have to drive miles through easemented private property to get to the main entrance of Coe. I see a direct correlation to Mt.Umunhum here.

    The 9 mile mountainous drive to Coe makes it one of the least visited State Parks. I honestly think the drive to Mt.Umunhum would keep a lot of people away. Even then, when I compare it to Coe, I know for a fact that people who trespass at Coe wander into inholdings, there’s no trespassing on the drive up there. Do these mountain folk think people will just stop in the middle of a two lane road, park their car, and hop out and walk through their property to get to the top, even though there’d be a road leading directly up to the summit? I don’t get it.

  207. David
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “As far as I know, no one living near Mt.Umunhum is ranching or farming for money, they just don’t want people up there out of what appears to be selfishness.”


  208. Matt
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Taken at sunset yesterday (I hope the image shows up, I’ve never posted a photo here)


  209. Matt
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Maybe this’ll work

  210. Matt
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    David, I can’t imagine that many people are growing pot up there, can you?

  211. David
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, there aren’t many people around Mt. Um to begin with, basically Rick and Jerry, and whoever they rent out to, but I can imagine that there are some isolated farms in the little gullies and gulches up there maintained by cartels or others of some kind. Nice picture; do you mind if I post it on on my Mt. Um page? I’ll give credit if you wish.

  212. Matt
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Glad you like it David. Feel free to repost it at SP, but please give credit.

  213. cambrianguy
    Posted July 15, 2006 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Cool pic Matt!

  214. David
    Posted July 16, 2006 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I posted it, with a source. Do you want me to include your name “Matt”?

  215. Matt
    Posted July 17, 2006 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks cambrianguy!

    David, you don’t need to include a name.

  216. Matt
    Posted July 17, 2006 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    By the way David, I didn’t see the photo on your page (assuming you’re David A @ What trip report did you use it on?

  217. David
    Posted July 17, 2006 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I didn’t post it to a trip report, rather the page itself.

  218. cambrianguy
    Posted July 17, 2006 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Here’s a link to all the AN/FPS-24 radar sites (all twelve, including Almaden AFS). It’s cool to see how the various site were laid out and that some had the same 5-story tower building while some of the earlier ones had steel towers. Two were even domed!

    Very fascinating reading.

  219. Matt
    Posted July 18, 2006 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Nice link cambrianguy, interesting stuff.

    David, I’m completely incompetent because I can’t find the Umunhum page at SP to save my life. Could you link it here?

  220. cambrianguy
    Posted July 18, 2006 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Go to the very bottom and click the “View Galley” link and it’s about half way down.

  221. David
    Posted July 18, 2006 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

  222. cambrianguy
    Posted July 18, 2006 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Some new pics posted to the bottom of my site.

    Courtesy of MROSD.

  223. Jared
    Posted July 19, 2006 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Nice pictures, I didn’t know about the fallout shelter up there. Unfortunately, my CF card is still lost in limbo and I don’t know what to do to get it back.

  224. kevin
    Posted July 19, 2006 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    re: 203

    Clean-up estimates: can confirm MROSD already at $4M, per 2nd workshop info.

    Numerous references as MROSD is political: arguable as one person’s political is anothers practical. MROSD has always expected more gov’t clean-up funds. Some work thru Rep. Honda and others, but agree it’s no surprise why the road issue and AFS opening are not pursued — cost and liability. My personal experience with MROSD people at board meetings, workshops and out in the field has been exemplary — again, there’s 2 sides to this story, and I perceive your observation/critique is harsh or overly broad. A special interest organization (Friends of Mt Um) is understandibly necessary to maintain awareness of the promise of MtUm clean-up. John Maciel, Matt Sagues, and the ranger staff have always been both warm and informative at meetings, and very helpful in the field (and yes, I am aware of past union issues MROSD has had with the staff).

    This information that MROSD has closed down tours is inaccurate — will explain that at a later time.

    I also take issue with what I see as your characterization of widespread poster hostility to local property owners and their private property rights. A “quick survey” of all posts shows: 13, 31, 34, 40, 48, 53, 56, 81, 105, 110, 116, 123, 131 and 145 write to local prop-owner hostility or trespassing. OTOH, posts 14, 20, 51, 63, 71, 82, 83, 124, 133, 134, 145, 178, 180, 184, 185, 189 are either/both respectful of local prop-owners and/or their private property (even with the possible exception of road easement discussions). Again IMO, this thread shouldn’t be a target of some of your broad criticisms in this area (though perhaps other threads are guilty of this).

    Thank you for the direct link to the FPS pics at Radome (haven’t check the Radome links in over a year); and the same thx for your personal website pic links.

  225. cambrianguy
    Posted July 19, 2006 at 11:41 pm | Permalink


    Once MidPen achieves their target goal for cleanup funds, do they have a plan afterwards? Can you share any info you have? About the tours being closed down, as I stated, they told me they no longer give tours but if any change of plans arose, they’d notify the “friends” group (which I’m now on). Maybe the person who told me that doesn’t know all the info? If you know of anything otherwise, can you divulge?

    I’m not trying to give anyone at MidPen any bad rap, so please don’t get me wrong on that.

    I’m just as interested in the site as the rest of us.

  226. Matt
    Posted July 20, 2006 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Anyone else find this photo creepy?

    Great pics. I’ve seen the pool one elsewhere, but I can’t remember where.

  227. Jack
    Posted July 20, 2006 at 1:00 pm | Permalink


    Great article and photos. I lived up there in the early 70’s. I lived in unit 514. My father was the medic at the base. This September there will be a reunion for all former base personnel.

    The ””mountain” as we called it was a wonderful place to live as a teenager. I was in that pool every day during the summer months. First run movies in the gym for a quarter on Friday and Saturday nights. Bowling for a quarter a game, shoe rental was a dime. Miles and miles of fire roads for my mini-bike, riding up and down the mountain each day to attend school in San Jose. Being snowed in at times. It was by far my favorite of all my dad’s assignments. Not a week goes by that I don’t think about those halcyon days of life on the “mountain”.

  228. cambrianguy
    Posted July 20, 2006 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I took this photo yesterday. It was odd to see Coleman Avenue with no cars on it.

  229. cambrianguy
    Posted July 20, 2006 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Jack, can you contact me offline?

  230. kevin
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    re: “MidPen achieves their target goal for cleanup funds”

    I believe it is not a formal goal, but an estimate justifying why the Feds are needed — plan is still for govt cleanup.

    re: “divulge”

    Not my decision; will advise when authorized.

  231. Anonymous
    Posted July 23, 2006 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Cool photo up Coleman!

  232. cambrianguy
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Rick emailed me and said there was activity near the mountain.

    Sure enough… another pot farm raid!

  233. David
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I saw Mt. Chual in the background of a few of the pics, which leads me to believe that these ones were in the large canyon south of Mt. Umunhum rd. and gate SA-09, in the Herbert Creek drainage. Gnarly…

  234. cambrianguy
    Posted July 24, 2006 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Ya, Rick told me they had set up camp on Bald Mountain and were airlifting all the goods up there.

  235. Matt
    Posted July 25, 2006 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Another raid!? At least they’re cleaning up the mountain bit by bit.

  236. cambrianguy
    Posted July 28, 2006 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    And yet more raids…. Thursday was the 11th consecutive day and they have collected 42,000 plants totalling roughly $168 MILLION dollars in street value.

  237. Matt
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I hope they keep it up and are able to return the land and soil to it’s natural state. Are these farmers doing this on private property or are they on public land? All the reports just mention that they find the plants in “rugged Santa Clara County” or some similar descriptive.

  238. cambrianguy
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    My guess is that they are on both MidPen land as well as some private property. Rick told me one bust was on Mt Um rd about 1/2 way up to his place from the SA-8 gate.

  239. kevin
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    No news lately, from MROSD on S-A Planning — we’re overdue for the 3rd workshop.

    According to meeting agenda for mid-Jun, EDAW (planning contractors) were to get an additional $57,500 to pay for added planning T&M. My guess is we should be due for another workshop soon — perhaps this fall, however MROSD office staff are non-committal.

    Let’s keep up the good (and legal) S-A use, at least from those of us on this board. Most of us who’ve been at this over the long haul, are still hopeful for opening the closed areas in our lifetime.

  240. David
    Posted August 3, 2006 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    “I took this photo yesterday. It was odd to see Coleman Avenue with no cars on it.”

    Isn’t that on Whitmoor?

  241. cambrianguy
    Posted August 3, 2006 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Nope, but I was wrong…it’s not Coleman, but Winfield Dr just before Coleman. (i.e. right across from Golfland)

  242. David
    Posted August 4, 2006 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Arrr, Winfield, that’s what I meant.

  243. cambrianguy
    Posted August 5, 2006 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Took this pic today at sunset… hope this HTML code comes out OK…(is there a way to edit posts, BTW?)

  244. cambrianguy
    Posted August 6, 2006 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Photochopped to include antenna sail and height finder radars

    (Black and White)

    (Go easy, this is my first attempt at a photochop) 🙂

  245. cambrianguy
    Posted August 8, 2006 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Sheesh… ANOTHER raid… this time, Mt. Hamilton.

    20,000 plants in one bust! Wow!

  246. Matt
    Posted August 9, 2006 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Nice photos Cambrianguy, especially the heightfinder and antenna sail ones.

    The more I think about these pot raids the happier I get. These a**holes are completely disrupting the environment, shooting and maiming wild animals, shooting people (last year’s bust on Um) and they think they can just set up shop anywhere. Can you imagine being a property owner who didn’t know that these people were farming on your land and being dragged into a legal mess? I hope they get them all.

  247. cambrianguy
    Posted August 21, 2006 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Today, I visited Rick and brought my daughter with me. Check out the pics and full story on my web page about 2/3 way down the page dated August 20, 2006. I hope you will all enjoy the story of today’s visit.

  248. Matt
    Posted September 1, 2006 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Nice trip report, but I gotta say it seems like the biker’s attitudes were only a byproduct of Rick’s demand to “move your bikes off the road”. A simple “please” or “would you mind…” would have gone over much more smoothly, I’m sure.

    It’s too bad about the pot because of your daughter but you also gotta remember, you’re far enough away from the city and the police that unfortunately this is where people come to do this stuff. As bad as it may be, you almost have to expect to see it at some point.

  249. cambrianguy
    Posted September 1, 2006 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Matt, I head you on the pot thing, but understand the reason Rick might have come across as harsh is because of the strong pot odor. had there been none, it would have been a much more pleasant experience.

    Try to think of it this way… imagine you live in a gated community…one which has a main gate that has an electrical keypad or garage door opened type of system that you engage to get in to. Now imagine you come home one day (or you’re leaving) and the gate it obstructed by people who are smoking dope and loitering in front of the gate. It’s no different. Rick’s “community” has a gate. It may not be electrical and may require them to get out and physically unlock it and lock it behind them, but it’s still a “gated community”. No different.

    Try to imaging what it would feel like to experience this? He’s come home to burning pallets stacked in the road in front of the gate and even one time the gate was totally blocked by many cars while a bunch of stargazing astronomers were having a telescope party on Bald Mountain.

    Those are just two examples of the crap he and his neighbors have to deal with. Remember, the folks who live up there don’t stay up there all the time… they comes down to the valley frequently for supplies, food, mail, etc..whatever they need.

    Personally, I think the gate should be much lower…i.e. at the Hicks Road and Mt Umunhum Sierra Azul parking lot vicinity.

  250. cambrianguy
    Posted September 1, 2006 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Meant to say “I HeaR you on the pot thing” in the first sentence.

  251. WoodBoy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Just discovered this thread, very interesting. I have read this entire thread and many others and heard lots of stories. I have done lot’s of exploring of Hicks road, Mt. Umunum, Etc, myself. Although I have only been to the second gate up to the base, reason being me and my friend were on bikes, and hopping the gate with bikes would have made it harder for a quick getawaly if nessecary. Also the farther we went , the creepier and scarier it got.

    We had also taken a dirt road to the left (not to far before the second gate) and witnessed spectacular views of the ocean. We went further down that road, but suddenly skidded to a stop because there was a trailer righ in fron of us, that freaked us pretty bad, and we didnt want to be caught, so we fled down the mountain.

    Also, about halfway between the first and second gates, has anyone else seen what appears to be a mineshaft in the side of the mountain? That was very creepy, there was only a metal grating over it, so you could see about ten feet in before it got to black, very interesting… I have a picture of it if anyones interested.

    Did anyone else go up mt umunum road in febuary when it snowed? I went with some friends, not very far, but it was absolutley beautiful with at least 3 inches of snow where we were, and im sure there was probably at least a foot at the summit.

    I havent been up there since beginning of summer, partly because a friend of mine told me his relative was up there with his wife one night, then when he got home, he recieved a call, and the person on the other line described him and his wife in detail and asked him what they were doing up there. You may not beleive this story, but it is true. There is also more details to the story though, But i dont feel comfortable saying them on the internet. That story makes me wonder though, is there still government activity up there? Pretty scary story, I’d just say be carefull, and know you might be watched.

    I did not know there was more pot raids these last two months! Thats news tho me. I’m glad they have been caught, and i hop there are no mroe, because i hike back there a lot. Mt Umuhnum is indeed a very mysterious place. I love learning more about it, and hope to go up agian soon.

    On another note, be careful of poison oak, it doesn’t go dormant. On the trip I went on up there in the snow, me and my friend had gon down a side trail along the road through the brush, and we didnt see poison oak, but I got the worst case of it I ever got, im talking 8 square inch pathces on my legs, amongh other places on my body. And i was wearing a heavy coat, and pants! So lets all just be careful whenever we are up ther.

    Look forward to more stories.

  252. cambrianguy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Woodboy, thanks for the stories. No, the government is no longer up there.

  253. Matt
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Understandable about the pot and “gated community” analogy Cambrian Guy.

    But I have to disagree with you about the gates being lower on the mountain. Who’s going to open the gate every morning and close it at night so people can access Bald Mtn?

    By the way, did you go with a Nikon or Canon Cambrianguy?

  254. cambrianguy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Ya, I forgot about Bald Mountain…. guess the gate is right where it needs to be.

    Since I’m new to digital SLR photography (but no stranger to digital photography and digital photograph manipulation), I went with the cheapest dSLR I could find. I got a Pentax *ist DL which came with an 18-55mm general purpose lens. It was $449 after a $100 rebate. I also got a Quantaray 70-300mm zoom lens for $169. A great lens which I took most of the close-ups with on the mountain.

  255. WoodBoy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Here are some photos if anyones interested:

  256. David
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 7:38 pm | Permalink


    It isn’t a mineshaft, it is a water well for Jerry [name removed]’s place. Rick [name removed] might also use it. You are lucky Rick (that guy owns the trailer you guys ended up at) wasn’t around, or didn’t see you when you stumbled on his trailer!

  257. WoodBoy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, thats good to know, thanks for the info. And yea I am glad We were not seen!

  258. cambrianguy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Yes… you were VERY lucky. realize that you were outright trespassing on private property.

  259. cambrianguy
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    One other thing… out of pure respect for the locals who live up there… I think that their names (first and last) should not be used on this site. For obvious reasons. Please folks…let’s respect these people. If they want their full names posted on this forum (or others), let them do it. It’s only fair to them that we respect that.

  260. Bob
    Posted September 5, 2006 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    I removed the last names for their privacy’s sake; don’t mean to censor this great discussion but agree that we can let them speak for themselves…

  261. Matt
    Posted September 7, 2006 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    The more photos I see of the base, the more dissapointed I get. The Air Force really desecrated something sacred to the Ohlones. I even read somewhere (I forget where so correct me if I’m wrong) that they blasted the peak of Umunhum flat with dynamite. It’s just sad. And some other caves near Almaden with Ohlone cave paintings have been soiled by clueless stoners lighting fires in them. I’m not Ohlone or Native American, but I feel bad for what these people have left in this area.

    Even if the government does get the site cleaned up, we’re still left with a disgusting AF base that poses a threat to anyone walking. We’re looking at a hundred years to get this site back to looking untouched.

    By the way CambrianGuy, I take back what I said about Rick and the stoners. He should have have told them to not do that shit up there.

    Woodboy, that sounds like a prank call made by someone who knew they were up there (maybe they told someone they were going up there in case something happened to them?) Obviously the government wants nothing to do with this site or they’d clean it up!

  262. cambrianguy
    Posted September 7, 2006 at 8:40 pm | Permalink


    Don’t get disappointed…. the base is going to be cleaned up…

    it just takes time. MidPen has a “Master Plan” and 2007 is the

    year, hopefully. I’m optimistic, but not holding my breath.

    Yes, it is true that US Government did in fact desecrate the

    land, but back in 1957 when the site was being spec’d out and

    built, the “environment” was an big an issue (or an issue at

    all) like it is today. To everyone here, it was just another

    mountain. Heck, back when they put up the base, there was

    hardly any residences near the base of the Sierra Azul.

    In my research, I have read that they did indeed blast off the

    top of the mountain to level it out…just like Mt. Hamilton

    was blasted down level when they built the Lick Observatory

    between 1881 and 1888. At Umunhum, them blasted it down level,

    and then dug two large holes…one for the bomb shelter facility

    and the others for the concrete “foundation” to support the weight

    of the FPS tower.

    If the government did clean up the site, it most certainly would

    not be ugly. But that’s in the eye of the beholder. Cleanup would

    entail probably knocking down or shoring up some of the unsafe

    structures, removing tons of vegetation, trees, and contaminated

    soil, and stripping down all the lead-based paint and repainting

    everything. Let’s not forget about the sewage field to the west

    of the base as well as the sewage spray area to the north. That

    probably needs some more treatment I would presume.

    This is all part of the master plan from MidPen to clean it up.

    There’s an upcoming public workshop in November (date not yet

    announced), but you can bet I’ll be there and I assume Kevin and

    David will as well). You should come too.

    As for the “stoners” and Rick… let’s put it this way…I don’t

    even live up there and had my daughter not been with me, I would

    have exited the truck, pulled out my cell phone and called the

    police and let those idiots hear me calling it in. Then if they

    would have given me lip, I would have just told them that there’s

    only one way down the mountain and that the Sherriff would probably

    be waiting for them at the bottom. I would given them more hell

    than Rick might have. I have a low tolerance for that kind of stuff.

    I asked Rick later that night if anything happened after I rolled past

    the gate when he let back out. He said there was the usual choice

    words exchanged back and forth, but nothing else out of the ordinary.

    Keep the faith folks… I’m sure things will eventually get better.

  263. Jared
    Posted September 8, 2006 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    If those guys were indeed lighting up right there at the SA-08 gate, one would think prevailing winds would carry the smoke towards the canyon to the east. You could have also been smelling a dead skunk, or a bag that some forgetful stoner left behind. Hell, it’s late summer so you could have even been smelling flowering marijuana plants in guerrilla grows around the area. You would have subjected those guys to the worst of the legal system because they copped (no pun intended) a sassy attitude and you thought you smelled something illegal? No offence intended, but that portion of your post strikes me as baseless self-righteousness.

    I also have to disagree about the Mt. Umunhum area being analogous to a gated community. The area is an otherwise normal rural mountain area served by a vital road that just happens to be gated. I fully respect the institution of private property, even though I may disagree with certain sentiments among the landowners; however, I cannot accept Mt Umunhum as a gated community simply because the landowners are on the right side of legal precedent.

  264. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve trid to hike to the top of umunhum many times, unsuccesfully… to be chased down by rick and other residents… My question is simple: As far as I can tell, from county issued maps and AAA maps, the roads are shown as public access roads. AFAIK, AAA does not list private roads.

    I dont need any local resident to “protect me from harming myself”… It is not their duty and no thank you, I dont want their protection service (which is to ask me to turn around and leave a public road). It is a free country and if I want to hike, I should be able to. Yes, private property tresspassing is bad… I dont want poeple hiking over my lawn either. But public roads are another story.

    Just for what the local trash mountain folk like rick have done up there, by turning such a serene landscape into a junk yard with broken trucks and tires and other mess, I hope the govt takes their land away from them… I mean, taking someone elses land is something this country should be an expert at now right? They have destroyed a sacred mountain with such beutiful views of the monterrey bay… you cant get those kind of views easily… It is the right of every person that lives in the bay area to be able to go up and see that… And we shouldnt wait for mid penn to take their own sweet time to let us in either… its land funded by public tax payers money for heavens sake!

    More realistically, I hope members of this forum one day soon get to gether and we openly hike up there with maps in our hands and challense anyone that asks us to get off from public roads.

  265. cambrianguy
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Delacruz, you’re ALL wrong. The road “goes through” private property. And even if you hike off the road on MidPen public land, you’ll reach fences and gates which are boundaries to PRIVATE PROPERTY owned by MidPen. Rick and the other landowners up there can do whatever they want with their land. They didn’t desecrate anything… the US Government did that back in the late 1950’s when they leveled the summit and put an entire base of buildings there. But that’s the discussion here.

    Calling people “local trash mountain folks” is painting a broad stroke and stereotypin people. Why don’t you take your butt up there, find a flat area to park a trailer or build a one-room house and try to live up there with minimal necessities? Oh, I forgot one thing… go and do it WITHOUT a paying job and you’re only income might just be Social Security. You think the locals up there are trash? You’re dead wrong. Trash is criminals who terrorize the inner cities and deal drugs, steal/burlarize, commit murder, and all the other felonies that happen on a daily basis around the world.

    Your comments very uncalled for and are not welcomed (at least by me and I think others will agree with me).

    If you want to get to the summit, do it LEGALLY…call MidPen and get involved. But don’t go and threaten to march on private property and call people who liver up there trash and accuse them of desecrating anything.

    MidPen is doing a lot to get the efforts rolling. They are not taking their “sweet time”, but rather, they are trying to make sure it gets done right. They are not going to clean up a site that nobody will visit… it all begins with raising public awareness and involvement. Without that level of interest, the site will remain untouched as it has been.

    Get your facts straight before you go and shoot off your mouth with false accusations and incorrect assumptions.

  266. David
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you 100 percent. Land isn’t a commodaty that needs to be owned. About the road: it IS a public that passes OVER private property. There winthin lies the problem. Some say that means people can walk over it, some say you can’t. Its complicated, too complicated for Mid Pen it seems. Call me a freedom fighter, but I’d fight for that hill. Its such a beautiful place that should be shared with anyone who wants to see it. It is totally not fair that Mt. Umunhum is in its current situation. For now, just hike it if you want, you still need to take responsibility for your actions.

  267. cambrianguy
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Meant to say “But that’s NOT the discussion here” regarding the “desecraton” issue.

  268. cambrianguy
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:11 pm | Permalink


    Both Kevin and I had the honor of being present with the Almaden Air Force Station veterans (about 40 of them) for their site tour of the station last Saturday. It was an historic event which was very special for the veterans. Most of them had not been to the site for over 30 or 40+ years! I have over 100 photos to share, but I’m putting final touches on the site before I post the link.

    Stay tuned…

  269. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Cambrianguy… I respect it that you had a pleasent experience with Rick, but in all honesty, you appear to be a PR person to a bad guy (kind of like Mel Gibsons PR team)… others, including me, have in fact had encounters with him and have had guns in our faces. Once this even happened BEFORE the signs on the road.

    FYI, His house up there does look like trash… if you think otherwise, you lack aesthetic seriously. His property (in addition to the goverments) look like a dumpster.

    The roads are clearly marked as public on the maps… these are county maps! They were paved with tax payers money. You really do have your facts wrong about it being private roads.

    I’m sure if he were so kind to me, I’d say nice things about him as well… but personal feelinsg apart, maps indicate they are public lands

    No I dont intend to live up there, not do I need to feel preassured to respect people who do. If its so harsh up there, have him come down to the valley and find a job… Based on the stupid programming questions he asks on the news groups, its no wonder why he got laid off at amdhal, but thats no reason for us to feel pity for him.

    All I want to do is enjoy the views of monterrey bay!

  270. Dan Ramone
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Cambrianguy… I respect it that you had a pleasent experience with Rick, but in all honesty, you appear to be a PR person to a bad guy (kind of like Mel Gibsons PR team)… others, including me, have in fact had encounters with him and have had guns in our faces. Once this even happened BEFORE the signs on the road.

    FYI, His house up there does look like trash… if you think otherwise, you lack aesthetic seriously. His property (in addition to the goverments) look like a dumpster.

    The roads are clearly marked as public on the maps… these are county maps! They were paved with tax payers money. You really do have your facts wrong about it being private roads.

    I’m sure if he were so kind to me, I’d say nice things about him as well… but personal feelinsg apart, maps indicate they are public lands

    No I dont intend to live up there, not do I need to feel preassured to respect people who do. If its so harsh up there, have him come down to the valley and find a job… Based on the stupid programming questions he asks on the news groups, its no wonder why he got laid off at amdhal, but thats no reason for us to feel pity for him.

    All I want to do is enjoy the views of monterrey bay!

  271. Dan Ramone
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, didnt mean to include the previous persons post in my reply.

    Delacruz, Can you kindly point out the “dumps” you mention?

  272. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    BTW, to all the readers and posters here… I apologize for my rash comments… I am just very frustrated by not being able to access public property. I live in new almaden (old almaden road, the village, by the silver mine museum). I can tell you as a local resident, I know that opening up the area to public hiking will STOP the drug cultivation in the area. I cant tell you how many times I have see shady people drive, rather rashly may I add, at wee hours of the morning… and the smell of weed is so obvious. It is a real menace. Either legalize pot and dont have criminals with guns having to hide, or clean up the area and the only way I know how is not by the occasional police raids, but by community involvement… open the natural area up please.

    Living in closed gates is not a way to improve a society… we need to work as a community and help solve the issue of whether or not the roads are legal and why we cant hike there.

    Having activity there will surely bring about more awareness. You dont hear of weed growing in yosemite do you?

    I would love to go to the gates with these county maps that outline govt property (you can get them at AAA) or from the county offices (online, you need to order them). They show parcel maps and unless I am reading them wrong, they seem public. I am only asking we take the public access routes up to the top… not to get into the AFB but to enjoy the beutiful bay views the summit has to offer!

    Is that bad to ask???

  273. David
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    DelaCruz, I don’t mean to make you look wrong or anything but I couldn’t resist:

  274. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I must look like a fool.

    I still would like to view monterey bay (legally, with freinds and family) from up there like cambrian guy before I die.

  275. cambrianguy
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Delacruz, you don’t look like a fool for claiming there’s no pot in Yosemite, but you definitely make yourself into one by slandering Rick in public. Neither you nor I know anything about Rick’s personal life, so you should not comment on it. Let’s be civilized, please.

    And yes, I am defending him…. I don’t know anything about guns being put in anyone’s faces, but if you claim the roads the public and you got a gun in your face, then why didn’t you call the police?

    Mt. Umunhum Road was indeed paved with taxpayer money…. back in the 50’s (maybe even earlier). The road hasn’t been re-paved since then. This question actually came up last Saturday at the reunion when Rick asked it to a few of the veterans. None of them recall the road being re-paved when they were there. The road is very poor quality…potholes, cracks, rock debris, vegetation overgrowth, etc. I’m not a betting man, but I’m willing to bet that not a penny of taxpayer money these days goes toward anything up there beyond the first gate (SA-08).

    In any case, I’m not trying to brag or anything but the only way that I was able to get up there was by simply coming right out and asking. In the process, I’ve made a friend, and yes, I would defend a friend any day…that’s what friends are for. I tried asking MidPen, but they are political and said no just like I expected (and I don’t blame them for that, really).

    BTW, regarding views of Monterey Bay, I’ve not been able to see anything of it on any of my trips up there as it’s always been socked in with fog and the marine layer. I’m sure there are days when it is clear, but the views from Mount Toro might be better. I know you want to view Monterey Bay from there real badly, but it’s not going to happen when you slander the locals who live up there….the very people who might possibly be your only hope for getting you up there in your lifetime (or mine).

  276. David
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Mt. Toro on private property…?

  277. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi Cambrian Guy… just a few responses …

    Yes, lets be civilized… I am very interested in seeing that the mountain is opened up…

    1. Regarding the roads… here is the point (and note that I am no lawyer, but do have several local residents who practice law), and as far as we can tell, whether or not the roads are maintained now is not the issue… the fact that they were once paid for by tax payers make them for ever public property, regardless of teh condition they are in. The signs that are painted on those roads seem to be illegal.

    2. Why didnt I call teh police? simple… I have no cell coverage there. If you do, please let me know what carrier you use :). By the time I got down, I cooled down and let it slide

    3. Waiting on mid pen to let us hike on something that is already public property according to both santa clara county and santa cruz county parcel maps seems ridiculous to me… its just a waste of everyones time (and money). I just dont see the point why someone cant go up there with these public documents and legally start walking on the roads and when the sherrif comes, show them the maps? Aparently we cant do that because we get threatened first

  278. cambrianguy
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I honestly think the maps are wrong. Maybe they are outdated or had wrong information, but as far as I know, the land that used to be owned by the U.S. Government when Almaden AFS was there was sold off to MidPen in the early 1980’s. You should probably pick up a MidPen Sierra Azul map (at the Jacques Ridge parking lot or online at MidPen’s site) as it clearly shows what land they do and don’t own. I would trust that map over any county map. I believe the markings on the road coincide with the boundary of MidPen’s land and what belongs to the private owners. If you ever hiked on Mt. Um Rd past the first gate, after a bit, you’ll see a series of three warning signs…the first is MidPen’s sign with a red “STOP” on it and it says “Preserve Boundary”. Then the next one is the old AAFS “Armed guards ahead” signs. Then the third is the first of two road-markings indicating no hikers and no bikers. These three “warning signs” are all in very close proximity and right where MidPen’s land abuts the private property.

    Even if the roads were initially paid for by taxpayers, the ownership of the land parcels has changed and this has affected things a lot.

    I researched this thoroughly when I wanted to get to the top myself, but quickly found out that there is no legal way to make it to the summit of Mt. Umunhum on your own unless you are a Sherrif or MidPen Ranger or are given permission (escorted or otherwise) to do so. I know it the sad truth and I don’t like it any more than you, but it’s what we have to deal with.

  279. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough Cambrian Guy… you obviously have more knowledge than anyone else on this topic, so I respect that. One point if I may make is that if the govt parcel maps are indeed incorrect, then as property owner, the residents there should have the govt correct it as they may be liabel if someone gets hurt on those roads…. when a biker falls, as you have mentioned previously, they will first try and sue the county and if the county declares that was not their property, who do you think these gold diggers will go after? clearly property owners … most likely someone who has much land.

    BTW, even that picture of teh bay you took… you are surely a blessed one for having that view from our own lovely bay area back roads. Just to think that one can one day get those views with about 45 mins of hiking…

  280. cambrianguy
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I never really refer to myself as having more knowledge here on the topic… believe me, there are others.

    Which pic of the bay are you referring to?

  281. Delacruz
    Posted September 12, 2006 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    That mustve been something in person.

  282. cambrianguy
    Posted September 13, 2006 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    You mean this pic…

    Looks like fog to me.

  283. cambrianguy
    Posted September 13, 2006 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    take two…

    Monterey Bay


  284. cambrianguy
    Posted September 13, 2006 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Damn…I can’t seem to get the thumbnail to work, but if you click the broken image “x” above, it’ll show you the full photo.

  285. cambrianguy
    Posted September 13, 2006 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    One last thing…

    That photo was taken from Tomita Hill, not Mt. Um. or anywhere on the AFS grounds. Tomita Hill is private property and I was a guest there when I took the pic.

  286. jonde
    Posted September 13, 2006 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Hi…I had trouble posting yesterday…looks like the site is back up!

    I have some pics of mt um I’d like to post (some were taken in feb when we had so much snow up here)…how do you post a pic (instead of a link…I don’t have the pics hosted anywhere)

  287. cambrianguy
    Posted September 13, 2006 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    If you want to send me the pics, I can host them for you for free and post the links.

  288. Matt
    Posted September 15, 2006 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this board will stay quiet for days or weeks on end then all of a sudden we get something hot going!

    Delacruz, regarding the AAA and government (I assume USGS topo) maps, well, don’t believe them. AAA probably gets their mapping data from the USGS (as well as other local governments) but the USGS’s data can be somewhat outdated, and thier topo maps are notorious for having wrong data printed on them (despite the accuracy of the contours). It’s not quite as easy as “…then they need to fix it”. I’m in the process of petitioning a name change for some local peaks and that alone has to be approved by the federal government. It took months to even see my petition show up in federal documents. Now it has to be reviewed, approved, etc. Even then, the government will not print new maps after correcting the data, mainly due to printing cost (can you imagine printing a new map just because someone left out one letter in a word or something similiar?) Also, not many people use paper maps anymore. As you can see, it’s a very beuracratic process, these maps.

    As mentioned, the road problem you bring up is at the heart of this matter and the reason this board was even started: “If it’s a public road, why can’t we be on it?” This has to do with easement law and a whole mess of other things, not just “It’s public so I’m allowed”

    As I understand it, yes, tax dollars payed to have it paved up to the base, but when the Air Force left, landowners said the road reverted to them and thus the story began. Regarding gunpoint accusitions, this is why MROSD doesn’t want anyone up there. It’s probably a liability!

  289. Bob
    Posted September 15, 2006 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    FYI, I updated the top of this page to reflect the fact that it’s much more than a bike ride report now…thanks to all for making it so.

    If anyone has suggestions on what to include in that intro section (perhaps tips for newbies or other web resources) let me know…

  290. Jack
    Posted September 15, 2006 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Matt…The base was built in the late 50’s, the Cold War was in full bloom, enviromental and cultural issues were not at the forefront as they are today. That “disgusting air force base” protected your very right to post your opinon here on this site.

    I lived on the base for two wonderful years in the early 70’s when I was 14/15 and just attended the reunion there this weekend. I had often thought that my brother and I were the only ones who had such a strong attachment to the mountain, oh how wrong I was. Many a tear were shed during the base tour.

    I was actually able to enter my family’s old apartment, as I stood there looking out at the incredible view and remembering when my world was the mountain, my eyes welled with tears.

  291. cambrianguy
    Posted September 15, 2006 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Jack… touching. Very touching. I’m glad I was there with you and the others at the reunion tour. It was great to finally put a face to the name and meet you.

    Look for the URL of my pics to come soon… over 100 of them.

  292. Matt
    Posted September 15, 2006 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Jack, I know it doesn’t come across that way in my post but I do fully understand the Cold War implications (I lived through the last 12 years of it) and the fact that things like Native American history weren’t something to be cherished because we still had so much of it around us when the base was built.

    When I say “that disgusting Air Force base” I wasn’t knocking the Air Force or what it stands for. I wasn’t trying to get political, and I wasn’t trying to put down our armed forces. If you were to put your memories aside (which would understandably be very hard to do judging by your post above) and take a look at the base now, can you honestly say that it’s a nice place to spend time to “get away from it all”? With generators running constantly and decrepit buildings and swamp-thing swimming pools? It’s hardly recognizable as what it once was, and to some it’s not recognizable at all.

    Speaking of which, does anyone have any photos of what the mountain was like before it got blasted?

    Jack, I’m glad you’re able to share your stories with us all. Keep ’em coming.

  293. cambrianguy
    Posted September 15, 2006 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    The “generators” were there before the Air Force Station was built. The communications facilities are what I’m talking about. Also, there are other generators there on McQueen Ridge for the NOAA NEXRAD Doppler Radar site. That site plays a key role in helping to track vital weather storms and the like.

    Environmentalism aside, any “high point” in the bay area can never remain “untouched” for they enable som sort of service that we all depend on. Look at Loma Prieta (tallest point in the Santa Cruz mountains), it’s riddled with communications towers that provide you the luxiry of placing a call on your mobile phone that we all take advantage of every day. Look at Mt. Hamilton. It houses what was once the world’s largest refractor telescope which enabled astronomers to see far into the depths of space and provide a wealth of knowledge we all have directly and indirectly benefited from. Mt Hamilton continues to be an educational facility for the University of California and scientists fro mall over the world.

    There have been many great beneficial things that have come out of tall mountain peaks in the bay area. Mt. Umunhum played a key role in that by protecting our skies during the cold war. At a range of 250 miles, the FPS-24 radar proved to be one of the most effective search radars around (until it was superceded by satellite systems in the late 70’s and early 80’s). Some people see it as “desecration” of nature, but most see it otherwise.

    Just some food for thought.

  294. Jack
    Posted September 16, 2006 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    I apologize if I took your comments out of context.

    You are correct, the base is in terrible shape. I don’t know if I ever will return to visit again. I think it’s a terrible shame that another use of the base was never developed. I had hoped that one of the local universities could have created an outdoor lab, or some type of enviromental camp for young people.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that there will never be enough money allocated to rid the mountain top of the base, I cannot imagine what it would cost to remove all the buildings.

    I have to admit I was surprised at the condition of the interior of our old apartment, with just a bit of work it could be liveable in a short period of time.

    Here’s a quick story. One week I knew knew my parents were leaving the base very early Friday morning to visit my grandfather. On Thursday I asked the airman who drove us down the mountain to school if I could put my bike on the bus when he picked us up after school. He agreed. So early that Friday morning, after my parents left, I climbed aboard my trusty Schwinn Varsity 10 speed and flew down Umunhum Road to Hicks Road and all the way to Leigh High School. Within hours of my parents return on Saturday, they knew all about my downhill dash, I forgot to take into account that many people lived off base and saw me on their way up the mountain…should have worn the full face ski mask.

    Next time…The Commander, a boar and a Bronco. Tall tales from Medic Smith’s son.

  295. cambrianguy
    Posted September 16, 2006 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Sweet! I’m cooking up a batch of popcorn! Keep ’em coming, Jack!

  296. cambrianguy
    Posted September 17, 2006 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Almaden Air Force Station

    682nd Radar Squadron

    2006 Reunion Tour of Mt Umunhum.

    Web Site

  297. cambrianguy
    Posted September 17, 2006 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Something that I just noticed…

    In November of 2005, MidPen had some photos taken of the site.

    This pic

    shows the west side of the AN/FPS-24 tower.  Note the large window/door on

    the 4th floor. Its closed/shut.

    Now look at my

    photo from Sept 9th.  The door/window is open.

    Take a look at

    this pic from Radomes which looks to be a photoshop job. Note the

    doors on the floor. Those appear to be very heavy steel doors.

    Visible proof of vandalism. I wonder who did this? Totally


  298. cambrianguy
    Posted September 17, 2006 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    BTW…there’s visible proof of vandalism all over the site structures (broken windows, doors pried open, etc). Its really a shame that people do that to such a place.

  299. Sean
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I was born (1975) and raised in San Jose and have been here all my life. I remember watching the sail go round and round when I was very little. I even remember watching the newscast on television about the closing of the base. I’ve always wanted to do what cambrianguy managed to do and just go up there once to take a photo, touch the building and say i did it. Hopefully someday I will be able to.

    Side note, does anyone remember when the side of the building was illuminated in the shape of a Christmas Tree during the holiday season? does anyone here know who was responsible for that and why it’s not done anymore?

  300. Sean
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    btw, i’m technically a Cambrian Guy as well since I grew up off Camden ave and went to Leigh High.

  301. Matt
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Jack, after rereading my repsonse to you I realize I came off a little harsh but I assure you didn’t mean to sound that way. No hard feelings I hope!

    Cambrianguy, I was rereading some posts and Rick’s reply to your question of broken bottles makes me a little suspicious. He said “that’s car window glass from people breaking into cars parked there while their owners are off hiking illegally up to the summit.”

    How would he know that it’s the broken windows of illegal hikers? When I went up there I parked there, like most others, to hike to Bald Mountain. I’m not saying he vandalized anything, it just strikes me as odd that he can so easily assume that people who park there are going to the summit.

    I don’t neccesarily see the monolith, antennaes, or NOAA dome as a desecration of nature, just eyesores. The monolith is a landmark of sorts (to me at least) and will doubtfully ever be torn down, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the rest of the builings that no one else in the bay area sees are such an eyesore and dangerous. I can’t imagine that if the land were eventually opened up that they’d keep a majority of the buildings. I’d imagine the monolith would stay (after retrofitting it and stripping the paint) but so much of what’s left is in bad condition (as far as I can tell from photos, I’ve never been past SA-08.) One thing I know about a few old buildings in a SCC State Park is that any building over 50 years old are considered historic and makes it harder to tear down. I don’t know if this is a state or county regulation so that could have an impact on the future of the buildings.

    I promise I’m not trying to pick on you cambrianguy, but your above post “Its really a shame that people do that to such a place” really confuses me. It’s not like the base was abandoned yesterday and people just went and started breaking windows. I think I can safely say that unlike most people here, most people could care less about the history of Mt.Umunhum. To them it’s a place to go get wasted, throw some shit around and break some windows, or a place to get to for bragging rights. I guess I just have an absolutist position on it; to me they’re a bunch of old dangerous buildings. There are so few people with sentimental attachments to these buildings that I doubt even those people petitioning to save them will matter much.

    I’m really rambling, and incoherently at that.

    Cambrianguy, I couldn’t agree with you more on what you say in the Reunion photo page:

    “…this structure…which I stare at literally every day when I’m driving somewhere doing errands, or sitting in a restaurant which has a view of Mt. Umunhum.”

    We are all here for one thing and that’s our interest in “The Mountain”.

  302. Matt
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Forgot to add that the photo you think is Photoshopped looks like it’s genuine to me. The lighting around the door interior is odd, but is probably from a flashlight, and an improper white balance setting making it appear a different color.

    Also, the doors on the floor in that photo could have been removed by MROSD for some reason. Who knows? I don’t think that many vandals carry plasma torches through the underbrush though. 🙂

    Burger Pit has an excellent view of Mt.Umunhum by the way.

  303. cambrianguy
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Matt, don’t worry, I don’t think that you’re picking on and I certainly am not taking any of this

    personally from you or anyone else. This is an open forum and everyone has their own opinion. If we all agreed on the same thing, that would be a nirvana that I’ve never before seen on any public Internet forum.

    The best we can do is “agree to disagree”. 🙂

    Regarding the broken glass….it was definitely from a car window…wasn’t broken bottle glass. I dont know when the break-ins occurred, but I’m willing to guess that Rick meant it happened to cars that parked there at night and were left unattended. Other cars ma have come to the SA-08 gate and seen them and then broke

    into them (easy pray, right?). As for where the owners were, you’re right… it’s not sure whether they were at Bald Mountain or up on Mt. Um Road past the gate or elsewhere. But the glass (which I saw myself on a subsequent visit) was definitely from a car window (there was too much glass to be a bottle) and it was “finer pebbles” instead of thick chunks fro a bottle.

    In a way, I agree with you about rest of the buildings other than the FPS tower. They are bad shape and need a lot of work to get them to be in a usable state for any kind of use (day or residential). However, for those who lived there (like Jack) they bear a strong sentimental link and it would be a travesty to tear them down. If all the buildings were build in the mid 50’s when the station was erected, then they are nearing “historic” status in a year or two from now.

    One of these days, we need to figure out a way to get you up there (legally, of course, you know I’m an advocate of doing things legally) and check it out. I bet you would feel differently once you saw the “magic” that this place possesses (take it from Jack). The views are tremendous and the history of the site is rich with tales and stories. Airmen serves many years there between 1957 and 1980 protecting out skies and watching out for the “bad guys” and to tear it all down (all or some) would kind of be (in my humble opion) disrespectful to them in a way.

    I don’t know how the doors in te FPS tower gor taken down…they look like a wrench could have done the deal and I know I’ve read about trespassers taking wrenches, tools, and other things like crowbars up there with them to get access to locked/welded doors Perhaps it was them? Don’t know for sure. I can’t imagine MidPen taking them down as they’ve probably not done a thing with that building since they purchased the land in the early 80’s.

    If you want a great view, drive down Winfield Drive from Blossom Hill and look straight up the mountain.

    Wonderful! I posted a link to it earlier up in this forum. As for Burger Pit, I’ll get there one of these days..I drive it by like every day and I’ve never eaten there. I’ve sure smelled some good eats coming from there, though!

  304. David
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Sean, the Christmas star was put up there when the airforce was up there. It hasn’t been erected since 1980 i believe.

    Cambrianguy: I noticed the same exact thing about the large door being open on the Box when I went up last April. Do you think the pic from the Radomes site could be out of the top rectangular window from the Box? I’d say its possible, yet I haven’t been up in there, so I’m not sure what the operations building looks like from that window. I doubt Mid Pen opened it: probably some people messing around. Scott told me an interesting story one time when a few guys broke through the gates with their cars, broke into the Box, drove into the Box and camped in their car, in the Box for a few days. They’d gather firewood from a little down the summit, down by Guadalupe Creek. Crazy! The funny thing was that it took Mid Pen a few days to discover them.

    I really hope the Box never gets torn down in my lifetime. Its really part of my life, and no matter where I end up in my adulthood, I’ll always remember it. If it gets knocked down by an earthquake, well that’s unavoidable, but if time comes to tear the guy down, I’m am going to get as much people as I can and do one of those building-tearing-down-protests you see in the movies on the spot, right in front of the thing. I’ve never seen a picture of Mt. Umunhum pre 1950’s, not sure if one exists, but very few people remember what the mountain looked like naturally. I’m sure it looked nicer than it does now, what with a non-blasted summit and all, but if the Box was torn down now, Mt. Umunhum would just become an uninteresting flat topped mountain. Wouldn’t be that great.

  305. Matt
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been to the California Room at the main library downtown and couldn’t find any photos of it with it’s peak intact. Strange. There’s gotta be one somewhere!

  306. cambrianguy
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    David, I suppose it might be the upper open “window”…tough to tell. Nonetheless, the external shot show the 4th floor “window” has clearly been opened since November 2005 sometime. Probably kids messing around looking for a sunset to watch.

    Scott told me the same story but didn’t mention the driving into the box and camping out in there. Wow…that must have been crazy! There sure are some crazy people out there.

    You can count me in for a “sit-in” if they ever decide to tear down the FPS tower. It’s a landmark that I’ve grown accustomed to and I kind of get the feeling people generally accept it. It would be hard to imaging the summit without it.

    I did some research on all the other FPS tower sites in the US (there were 12 FPS-24 sites, but not all of them had the concrete tower) and I couldn’t find any that had the tower removed. Also, there are plenty more concrete monolith towers for sites that had FPS-35’s on them. Several of them are in use for other radar and communicatins uses. One is even still in operation as a NEXRAD and one on Long Island still has an FPS-35 sail still on it (though not operational). Radomes has some great info (as usual) on FPS-35 sites (a quick Google search for “FPS-35” yielded many informative hits). My point is that I think it costs a lot to tear one of these suckers down and MidPen or the Air Force doesn’t want to spend taxpayer money to do it when there’s no real value add to it, I suppose.

    I love staring at the tower from the city streets. I use it as “self navigation” landmark all the time. More importantly, I love the rich history and lore the site has to offer. I think we all do, really.

  307. cambrianguy
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Looks like the only radars that used the 5-story concrete tower buildings were the AN/FPS-24 and the AN/FPS-35. The 24 has the 85.5 ton antenna sail and the 35’s sail was 70 tons. Both were constantly plagued with problems with their bearings. There were 12 of each site (but not all sites had the tower as I mentioned in the past…some had a metal frame platform and a couple were domed). Still, I couldn’t find any sites with the tower that had it torn down.

  308. David
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I saw what looked like an FPS tower out in the Mojave Desert, just off of 395 a little north of Kramer Jnct, near Barstow. I was going north, and the FPS was up on a small hill to the left. I turn right, low and behold, I see a NEXRAD station about 1/4 mile off the road. Coincedence or what? It totally blew my mind. An establishment of Edwards AFP no doubt.

  309. David
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

  310. David
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, screwed up last post.

  311. David
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Says that the concrete bases, aka the Box, is 80 feet tall. Finally, I know the exact height…

  312. Sean
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    I distinctly remember the Christmas tree being illuminated throughout the 80’s. I believe it stopped after the 89 quake. Was the Air Force still in charge of the property through the 80’s?

  313. cambrianguy
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I vaguely recall the lights…not really knowing what it was, but I think it would be a great idea if that were done this Christmas.

  314. cambrianguy
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Where’s Kevin? he hasn’t posted here in a while.

  315. Matt
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Wow, now that you guys mention the lights, I seem to recall something like that. If they didn’t put them up after 1980 then I’d be imagining it because I’d have only been a year old. Maybe I’ve seen photos somewhere. Either way, I’m looking more into finding photos of the peak of Um because I missed some microfilms in my first go-round. I’ll keep everyone updated.

  316. Matt
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    While we’re waiting for photos of the peak I assembled this quick n’ dirty contour comparison from USGS topo maps. The map from 1940 is at twice the scale (1:48k) of the modern usgs maps, so the contour lines don’t translate directly. Regardless, you can definitely see major changes in where the living facilities are located, and if you look closely you can see slight peak changes.

  317. Matt
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    By the way, in the most recent topo map above, the purple squares are buildings.

  318. David
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    The Air Force was still in charge of the place until 1986. They could’ve put the star up until then.

  319. Sean
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh please. can whoever runs this board delete this spam?

  320. kevin
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Much thanks to cambrianguy, Rick, Scott, Ranger Nader (& the MROSD), plus the reunion members of the 582nd Radar Squadron — Vigilentia et Prudentia.

    The ignorance of those who couldn’t care less about what was done there and at the GATR site during the cold war, speaks for itself. However, one should realize that accessibility to this site would not even be discussed here, had the 582nd not been stationed there and the base subsequently sold/gifted to MROSD. Those acres would have been privatized and off limits long ago.

    Regarding the legal discussion of a publically funded and built road has been discussed more than once on this thread — para 3, on post 193 is one example. However, as of this writing, you are subject to citation, arrest and a stiff fine for using the road up to MtUm and over the saddle to LP.

  321. kevin
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Much thanks to cambrianguy, Rick, Scott, Ranger Nader (& the MROSD), plus the reunion members of the 582nd Radar Squadron — Vigilentia et Prudentia.

    The ignorance of those who couldn’t care less about what was done there and at the GATR site during the cold war, speaks for itself. However, one should realize that accessibility to this site would not even be discussed here, had the 582nd not been stationed there and the base subsequently sold/gifted to MROSD. Those acres would have been privatized and off limits long ago.

    Regarding the legal discussion of a publically funded and built road has been discussed more than once on this thread — para 3, on post 193 is one example. However, as of this writing, you are subject to citation, arrest and a stiff fine for using the road up to MtUm and over the saddle to LP.

  322. kevin
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the 2X post, Bob.

    Bob — the wide formatting of the site is such a pain. It’s faster to copy-paste it into a word file, that constantly right-left scroll to read such a long thread. Wide screen scrolling is need for both Mozilla and IE …

  323. kevin
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 11:32 pm | Permalink


    than constantly …

    is needed

  324. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Kevin! Welcome back.

    You mean 682nd Radar Squadron, not 582nd. 🙂

    It was great to see you that day and my offer to go golfing still stands. Let’s get out and tee it up!

    I agree on the left/right scroll. It’s a pain. I have an RSS feed reader that I can read the posts in which doesn’t have this issue.

    Good to hear from you again. Contact me offline as I have a few other questions for you.

    Hey, who’s that guy in the back row? 🙂

  325. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Check out some of the great guest book notes I’m seeing on my guest book page for the reunion site. Touching.

  326. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    AAFS Bomb Shelter. These pics were taken just this past week by a guy who got to attend a very small group of Air Force Museum personnel who got MROSD clearance to look for artifacts and museum items at AAFS. They didn’t find any, though. Here’s his Quonset hut (bomb shelter) pics.

  327. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Correction… this occurs a couple of years ago…not last week. I just found that out.

  328. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Meant to say this occurred a couple years ago. Man, this site needs an editor! 🙂

  329. Matt
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Creepy photos of the bomb shelter. I like the paper thin hollow-core doors. I’m sure those’ll stand up to a nuclear attack!

  330. Matt
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Just a little off topic…I was Googling “Albinos Hicks Rd” for some laughs and came across a discussion where someone mentioned something called the Devil’s Doorway. I assumed it was in the mountains near Um because that’s what the discussion centered around. Someone also mentioned a rock with the words “Knock and Die” spray painted on it. Anyone have any clue about these? I don’t plan on searching them out, just wondering what they are!

  331. Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Those doors separate the “sleeping quarters” (where cots and people would hang out) from the main entry area which has the “toilet” and communications equipment, etc. The main doors into the Quonset were huge steel ones. The escape hatch is in the rear, but the lead rock material covering it has already been released (when it was opened for the first time sometime ago I would presume). There are two air ventilation shafts (one for each “room”). The shelter looks nowhere near large enough to fit all the airmen, dependents, and civilian personnel who worked the base (which neared 150 or so). It looks barely large enough to fit the 30 or so airmen that worked the operations and FPS tower facilities, etc.


  332. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Matt… bizarro.

    Devil’s Doorway? :

    No idea what Knock and Die mean… have never heard of or came across either of these terms in my extensive research of AAFS.

    BTW, there are no Albino’s… that’s a myth. Probably conconcted by the locals to scare people away or deter them from venturing up the mountain. No factual evidence has substantiated any of those myths.

  333. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Was discussing my AAFS/Umunhum research with one of my best friends. Turns out he and his brothers and their father visited the site in 1975. AAFS had a “publicity” event where the public could come up and tour the site. So they went up.

    Here’s some pics he sent me that his brother still had on 35mm slide format and he managed to print and scan them.

    Ken (age 9) and his brother Bob (age 14)

    Same pic as above, but zoomed out. FPS-24 and MPS-14 visible as well as the now-gone FPS height finder.

    Helicopter (possibly a Cobra) atop the helipad for visitors to enjoy.

    He’ll send more as he or his brothers find them.

  334. Anonymous
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Re: 682nd

    Oops – t’was late, and I should’ve had worn my reading specs. I made enough other mistakes too!

  335. kevin
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Above was mine.

  336. cambrianguy
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Let’s take a ride into the past….

    Airman Mike Carter

    Lancaster, Pennsylvania

    AAFS A/1C (E-4) 1959-1960

    GATR radio maint.

    Mike graciously sent me some photos. You might recognize some of them from the Radomes site.

    Here’s what Mike has to say about the GATR site:

    When I left 682nd in March 1960 the FPS24 tower was just a pit in the ground with a lot of concrete in it.

    They were pouring and pumping concrete for almost a month. The trees are so much larger and more plentiful.

    In 1959 much of the surrounding area was burned off in a fire that almost surrounded the mountain top. Most of us at that time were sent to help the California Forest crews. I (and others) got a bad case of poison oak from the smoke.

    The FPS24 operated in the same UHF band as Air/Ground communications. The military UHF band is 225 to 399.9 MHz. The FPS24 search radar operated at 375 MHz (I think, I have only read about it). The radar could have easily fried any UHF radio gear in the nearby vicinity; at least cause interference with the receivers. I don’t know if there were any health concerns. I have been approached in the past by lawyers looking for class action suit clients involving radar exposure and hazardous waste disposal problems. I opted out.

    Local communication was by buried telephone cable backed up by UHF radio-relay sets that also provided backup channels to adjacent radar sites and sector HQ. Equipment was AN/TRCsomething. UHF transceivers were AN/GRC27, still used today. I have seen them in FAA towers. The GRC27 could tune to any 0.1 MHz channel in the UHF band. I think the equipment was developed in the early 1950s and used vacuum tubes. Backup UHF was handled by single-channel transmitters GRT? and single-channel receivers GRR?. VHF band (118-136 MHz) for communicating with civilian aircraft were single channels boxes dating from the 1930s and developed in England.

    I don’t think any stories I remember are worth posting. Duty at Almaden was 24/7 work in an inconvenient location. Certainly almost all other radar squadrons in USAF were more of a hardship. We could, after all, go to San Francisco whenever we had some time off. A backward look at Air Defense in that period shows we were intensively preparing for an attack our adversaries were not really capable of carrying out. By the time a real threat capability developed with ICBMs the bomber defense became semi-obsolete.

    I went directly from Almaden to Spring Quarter at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where I finished my EL degree in 3 years followed by 40 years at Alcoa. My last 7 years at work were in the DC area and now I am retired in Pennsylvania near my grandchildren.

    Here are Mike’s photos:

    Mike’s 1953 Dodge

    Winter 1959

    GATR site 1959. NOTE: GATR in 1959 was where the current Training Building and MPS height finder platform are today. GATR was then moved to Mt. Thayer and replaced with the MPS.

    Inside 1959 GATR room (next to FPS tower). Note M2 carbine and full banana clip of ammo inside GATR building (next to door) which was supposed to be used to fight off saboteurs.

    Look at this wonderful photo of one of the housing units! Note freshly planted landscaping and pavement.

    Beautiful! Look at the view behind!

    Someone parked a boat in dry storage there! Amazing.

    FPS-20 Radome Once the FPS-24 was installed and fully operational, the FPS-20 was removed.

    NCO “Club”

    Ops area 1959. Beautiful sunset.

    Airman Mike Carter 1959

    Mike Carter today

    God Bless Mike and all the rest of the AAFS Airmen.

    More to come…

  337. Matt
    Posted September 21, 2006 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    cambrianguy, that Devil’s Doorway lake in Wisconsin is the only thing I could find also.

    Those are some wonderful slides and that sunset is amazing. Keep it all coming!

  338. David
    Posted September 21, 2006 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Great photos. Those are really cool.

  339. Dave
    Posted September 22, 2006 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Cambrianguy, I’ve really enjoyed your posts as I’ve been watching this discussion for the better part of a year now. What would you reccomend I do to find a legal way to reach the top of this mountain. The military history of this site is fascinating and I would love to play an active role in it. You can fire me off an email if you like: Thanks for your help!

  340. cambrianguy
    Posted September 22, 2006 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Dave, sent you an email.

  341. Anonymous
    Posted September 22, 2006 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    re: 323

    SPECIAL MENTION — thanks to Steve, who put it ALL together!

  342. cambrianguy
    Posted September 23, 2006 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    For those who don’t know, the “Steve” that Kevin refers to is the AAFS veteran who organized the reunion.

  343. Tim
    Posted September 24, 2006 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Check out the myspace page about the box

  344. cambrianguy
    Posted September 25, 2006 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    MySpace is a fad with 80 million teenagers as the audience (that’s my opinion). I think the kind of audience you need to direct this kind of communication doesn’t visit (or even know of or bother with) MySpace. While it has good intentions, I just don’t think it’s the right venue. 99.99999999% of the people on MySpace could care less about this topic. In fact, it’ll only increase the amount of illegally trespassing teenagers to site. Again, just my opinion, but I’m pretty sure there are others who will think the same.

  345. David
    Posted September 25, 2006 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I think its kinda funny. 😉

  346. cambrianguy
    Posted September 27, 2006 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Man, these online casino folks are persistent little bastards, aren’t they?

  347. Bob
    Posted September 27, 2006 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Yep, I keep deleting them but it’s like whack-a-mole…

  348. cambrianguy
    Posted October 9, 2006 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    View from Boulder Ridge Golf Club. 10-8-2006

  349. RFBob
    Posted October 11, 2006 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Two of us climbed to the top of Mt U on 10/3/06. We took the Guadalupe Creek route, starting from Barlow Road. Here’s the story:

    We left the parking lot at the gate on Mt. U Road at about 8:30AM. Walked to Barlow Road and to where it crosses Guadalupe Creek, where we picked our way over the old plastic pipes and started up the creek. Creek was nearly dry with small pools or trickling water in a few places. Weather was almost perfect: cool and slightly breezy with partial overcast.

    We took the advice to stay left at all forks and it worked well, although there is a strange spot just above where the creek turns west. Here a gully presents itself as a false left fork in the creek. I think we’d have soon realized our mistake had we followed it.

    Mostly we stayed in the creek bed, but there were two places we had to leave it. First, where the creek turns west, the creek bed seems to dead end in a bowl with a very steep earth bank straight ahead. It took a minute to realize we were at the turn in the creek and the water enters the bowl from the right (as you are looking up the creek) down a steep rock face. Must be very pretty (and pretty hard to reach) when the creek is running! To get past all this we had to exit the creek bed to the left and climb the steep bank to circle clockwise around the top of the bowl. We reentered the bed a little above the bend and above the rock-face.

    Second, after the creek exits the canopy it cuts through a big rock face, maybe 30 feet tall, probably the rock climb referred to in post #18. Is this the Wall o’ Death? We skirted to the left again (through a nice thicket of PO) and found a place to get around the wall. If anyone else does this, be sure to cut back across the creek bed as soon as you can above the rock wall. Doing so puts you at the bottom of the final climb up the south face.

    We climbed the south face near its western edge. This was pretty good going, but I found the exposure a little unnerving because the edge of the face is a sheer drop back down to the creek. My partner, a more experienced hiker, was pretty blasé about it. Our first view of the summit area was of the western side of the big block house. The whole climb of the south face was shorter than we expected, helped no doubt by the cool and friendly weather. In heat and/or stiff wind that climb could be a small ordeal in itself. We found a hole in the southern side of the summit fence, pretty much in line with a diagonal drawn through the base of the big steel tower. The hole has been patched at some point but the patch is loose and quite easy to move aside. We were careful to put it back as we found it, BTW.

    We spent an hour or two in the blockhouse area. Most of the doors are locked and/or welded shut, but we were able to enter the power house and we could climb the stairs of the steel tower. The former was quite exciting to us, nerdy EEs that we are. It looked like there was generating capacity for hundreds of kilowatts, and the old control console is very cool. Seeing no evidence of high tension lines to the site, we decided all the power for the big radar transmitter was generated right there. Anyone know if that’s true?

    The hut at the top of the steek tower was locked. However there was a piece of fire hose tied at one edge of the roof. Maybe people have climbed the railing and used the hose to get up on the roof of the hut. We weren’t feeling wild enough to try.

    Here’s a couple of photos; faces changed to protect … us. Can’t see them in the your comments box so I hope they show up ok.

    We wanted to see the famous swimming pool, but it’s not located in the blockhouse area. Didn’t want to push our luck and go outside the first gate toward what looked like buildings currently in use. As for neighbors, rangers, etc. we didn’t see another soul on the mountain, only a black SUV descending Mt U road back when we started out. “Got to be CIA,” we agreed.

    Climbing down seemed quicker but much tougher than going up. The south face is steep, and in the creek bed there are 3 or 4 little descents down 10-or-so-foot faces. It doesn’t help that the rock is unpredictably firm or rotten and that some of the better hand and foot holds are guarded by PO. Plus there is a considerable layer of fallen leaves on everything this time of year. With the rocks half hidden and fatigue starting to affect us, the odds of spraining an ankle seemed pretty good.

    What’s up with those pipes anyway? What one heck of a lot of work it must have been to haul them up the creek bed. Our best theory was they were used to pump water, which must be present nearly year ‘round at the Barlow Road level, to someplace higher up. But it looks like the piping is too flimsy to have survived a winter w/o breaking in many places. Could all the work have been worthwhile to provide for, say, one growing season of a certain cash crop?

    More signs of life as we walked down Mt U road to our truck. Two Ford-Bronco-like vehicles with AT&T logos went by, and at the lot itself a ranger in an MROSD truck was talking to the driver of an unmarked truck with a generator in tow. No doubt they were all tied in with the CIA SUV we had seen in the morning. For sure. Yup.

    We got back to our truck around 4:30 PM, feeling tired and very satisfied with a strenuous day. As rugged as it is, the Guadalupe Route does look like the best way up to the summit. We looked over the northeast ridge and the ridge from Mt Sombroso toward Mt. Thayer. The former appears damned near impassible (choked with brush) and the latter, also nearly impassible, peters out quite some distance from the Mt. U summit. We are somewhat in awe that the guy who climbed from Hicks road all the way up the northeast ridge even survived the experience.

    If there is ever a public route to the summit, maybe the place to put it would be from Barlow Road up a cleared trail along the spine of the northeast ridge. The ravine of Guadalupe Creek seems too steep and in places too narrow for a developed trail.

  350. cambrianguy
    Posted October 12, 2006 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Pics didn’t come through

  351. David
    Posted October 12, 2006 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on summiting. I’d love to the pics. Guad Creek along with the NE ridge are basically the best ways to get to the summit. The roads involve alot of risk, and the ridge from El Sombroso is just plain hell. Plus, that “bowl” you described is very beautiful when the creek is flowing.

  352. RFBob
    Posted October 13, 2006 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Our photos are jpgs. How can I get them to show up?

  353. cambrianguy
    Posted October 14, 2006 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    You can post HTML links to the pics once posted somewhere. If you don’t have anywhere to post them, try a free pic hosting site.

  354. cambrianguy
    Posted October 14, 2006 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    1975 photo from my long time friend (he’s the younger boy in the pic) and the 2006 photo courtesy of “David” who posts here.

  355. Matt
    Posted October 14, 2006 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Nice trip report RFGuy.

    I wanted to let everyone know that this week’s Metro (October 11-17) has a cover story titled “Pot Shots-Guns, gangs and greed: The dark side of the marijuana business” and it covers CAMP, the raids on Um, the raids on the Diablo side of things and various other subjects that loosely pertain to Um. Check it out. I think Tower Records carries Metro. You can’t miss the cover, it’s a POV shot from behind a machine gun through some pot plants.

    It’s good to see that all these raids are starting to get a little more in depth coverage as opposed to quick blurbs on the news or webpages.

    Go check it out!

  356. Matt
    Posted October 14, 2006 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    You can also read it here if you can’t find the Metro:

  357. David
    Posted October 14, 2006 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I saw that and picked one up in Sunnyvale yesterday. Very interesting article.

  358. cambrianguy
    Posted October 15, 2006 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I finally found a photo of the summit without the FPS-24 tower. It appears to be 1960 or so. It’s actually a photo taken from the stairs or perimeter walk of the old FPS-20 domed radar and if facing east. It shows the old operations and engineering builds before they were joined and expanded. The photo shows the old GATR in place where the remaining height finder radar platform is today. Also, the 2nd heigh finder (the one where the foundations remain on the actual high point) is in process of being erected and not complete. There are two cars parked in the photo and look like late 50’s or very early 60’s.

    Unfortunately, however, I cannot post this photo on the Internet. In fact, I have removed all my photos from my site except for the reunion tour photos. I can’t go into details, but it’s for the better.

  359. cambrianguy
    Posted October 15, 2006 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Forgot to mention some other pics that I came across. One had the dispensary in it and you can barely see the top of the NCO club. The pic shows the rec center and pool not even there yet! They are under construction and only the foundation is shown. There is only dirt around and no trees at all.. .not a single tree in sight. The flag pole is there. The photo appears to be 1957.

    Another shows the airmen playing volleyball in the parking lot next to the BOQ and orderly room (Squadron Headquarters).

    Another shows 14 or 15 airmen standing in formation in front of the flag pole in full dress. There are 2 or 3 “higher brass” officers facing them and it appears to be some kind of ceremony of some sort. It appears to be in the winter as there are no leaves on the trees behind then which line the fence next to the rec center and pool.

    Lastly, did you know that there are 4 additionall barracks buildings which are no longer there? When I was there for the reunion, I noticed wide, long concrete “strips” in the bruch gowth, etc. I didn’t know what they were, but I found out they are the remaining foundations of the 4 missing barracks. Only 1 barracks building remains today. Not sure why the other 4 were removed.

    The history of this site is so immense.

  360. cambrianguy
    Posted October 15, 2006 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Correction…the photo without the 24 radar tower isn’t “1960 or so” as we have a confirmed 1959 photo showing the 2nd height finder already erected. So this photo must be 1957 or 1958.

  361. anonymous
    Posted October 16, 2006 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    “Seeing no evidence of high tension lines to the site, we decided all the power for the big radar transmitter was generated right there. Anyone know if that’s true?”

    Yes; at least as back-up there are diesel generators on site, west and below the computer operations center, west of the cube.

    “We took the advice to stay left at all forks and it worked well, although there is a strange spot just above where the creek turns west. Here a gully presents itself as a false left fork in the creek. I think we’d have soon realized our mistake had we followed it.”

    Actually that left fork is correct too. It allows you to skirt much that upfalls creekbed debree (slow going) by swinging around left. You should find a few hillside paths that route — clear going before recrossing the creekbed well up, but before that last 100+ yds before exit from the canopy.


  362. Bob
    Posted December 6, 2006 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Just fixed comments…again…probably temporarily…again.

  363. cambrianguy
    Posted December 6, 2006 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Went to the MidPen alternative master planning workshop last night. I’d say there was over 150 people there…give or take a few. They presented alternative plans to their “Master Plan” for Sierra Azul and Bear Creek Redwoods. With respect to Mt. Um, there are three alternatives:

    1) Plan A – Do nothing. Status Quo (not likely)

    2) Plan B – Keep radar tower, demolish the rest

    3) Plan C – Demolish all.

    A couple others from this forum were there (I’ll let them chime in). We all voiced our opinions to demolish nothing and even presented a cheaper alternative… clean it up and fence it off… but open it up to the public (i.e. access to the site, but no structure access, unless can get it safe and clean). Maybe some light day use.

    There was a significant contingency of mountain bikers there. Even some hang gliders.

    Could be an interesting 2007 for AAFS. Most people were against demolishing anything…few didn’t care.

    I’d hate so see this historical site levelled.

  364. Bob
    Posted December 12, 2006 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Comments are closed temporarily while I figure out the spam posting problem. Thanks for your patience…

  365. Noel Kerns
    Posted August 16, 2007 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi There,

    Thanks to everyone here on the forum for all the knowledge and sharing of information regarding Mt. Um; it’s proven invaluable to me in my research for planning an attempt on it later this month, which brings me to the point of my message.

    In reading all the posts on the forum, I’ve used Google maps to attempt to follow the routes the different posters have taken in their attempts on the summit. I’ve also used some of the other map resources mentioned in some of the posts, most notably here.

    To that end, I’ve been surprised to discover that no one seems to have taken what would seem to me to be perhaps the best combination of ease of access and minimzed exposure. If I may, I’d like to show you the path I am advocating in the hope that you might be able to point out something I’m missing, some reason why this is not a viable route. Here is a link to an image of the traced path on Google maps; if you will, open it up, as well as the linked map from the paragraph above, then read on.

    As I understand Mt. Um road from the posts on your forum, just past the curve where my planned route begins is the first private property marker, the white stripe on the road. You can see it in the Google image, around the bend from my off-road start point (my plan is to be dropped off by car at the SA09 gate, and hike to the start of the off-road point). My red-traced route follows what appears to be a fairly well-cut path through the brush, and more importantly, based on the map, appears to have been cut the way it was to avoid the private property. It may actually be skrting right on the edge; difficult to tell from the map, as it used fairly wide lines to define the public/private property boundaries, so it’s pretty close. But if you examine the terrain in Google Earth, you can see that this path keeps you somewhat below the plateau of the CCI radar installation. I wasn’t too clear on the locations of the security cameras, but based on the views posted in comment #853, none of the cameras seem to cover this area. The frist one looks like it might, but then you can see Mt. Um rd in the picture, so that cam appears to be shooting the west side of McQueen Ridge, not the east side. The other thing about this route that at least appears appealing is that there doesn’t appear to be any other likely points where one might encounter anyone else, other than possibly other hikers attempting the same thing.

    So as I see it, with my very limited understanding (10 days ago I’d never heard of Mt. Um or the AAFS), this route seems to minimize the legal security risk (until you breach the fenceline at Almaden, of course). The other side of the equation is the physical challenge/danger element. If one arranges for a car drop at SA09, hike the 1.3 miles or so to the start of the off-road section, the hike doesn’t seem to be terribly challenging, save for about the last 1/3 of a mile, from the bottom of the gulch between McQueen Ridge up the hill to the fenceline. That seems like that might be a bit of a challenge, but doesn’t appear nearly as difficult as some of the Guad Creek routes others have chosen, and they all seem to have made it up OK, so I figure this path should be pretty doable from a physical standpoint, with relatively little brush to minmize PO exposure possibilities. Of course, snakes, mountain lions, etc, are still a risk, but that’s pretty much true anywhere up there, I should think.

    So…am I way off-base (pun intended) here? Is there something that I don’t know about that should completely preclude this route from consideration?

    Just so you’ll know, my sole reason for wanting to visit this place is my passion for photographing abandoned places, and this one is as tantilizing a venue as I’ve ever seen. By the way, I didn’t notice any references to it in the forum, but there’s a Bay Area professional who has captured some remarkable night images up there; here is a link to them.

    Oner other note; I’m not local; I’m from Dallas, TX., and I’ll be visiting the Bay Area later this month. To that end, this doesn’t seem like the kind of excursion that one should undertake alone, so I would be open to suggestions for anyone that might want to join me. Seems you’d always be safer with a companion.

    Finally, thanks to any and all in advance for any information you might be able to pass along. Of course I’d be more than happy to share with you any images I’m able to get, if I make it all the way up.

    Best Regards,

    Noel Kerns

  366. Bob
    Posted August 17, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Just a reminder that not everything on this page is recommended; rather it represents a brainstorm of possibilities. Please don’t trespass on land illegally–that’s why I posted this in the first place, to try to find legal ways of getting up. Good luck!