Get a private tour of ‘closed to the public’ Doan Ranch

Hikers encounter a fallen oak on Doan Ranch trail.

Last November, the voters of Santa Clara County passed Measure Q, a $24 parcel tax that will support the work of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority. The measure required a two-thirds majority for passage, a very high hurdle in an era where boisterous disagreement seems to accompany every issue. If you add to that obstacle the fact that the measure was a tax increase, it is clear that the passage of Measure Q is an impressive endorsement of our desire for open space, clean water, and a healthy environment.
The SCCOSA owns a number of beautiful properties that are not yet open to the public. During the campaign, the OSA promised that if Measure Q passed, opening these areas would be a high priority. But before the ribbon-cuttings, the agency has work to do: resource inventories must be done; trails and other visitor facilities built.
But just because some OSA properties are closed to the public doesn’t mean you can’t visit them. Teri Rogoway, the Educational Programs Coordinator at the OSA, and her docents are eager to show you around. All you need to do is call her and make arrangements.
Under just such arrangements, I recently joined a group of hikers on a visit to Doan Ranch, a beautiful 574-acre property southeast of Gilroy that rides the divide between the Pajaro River headed to Monterey Bay and Coyote Creek northbound to San Francisco Bay.
A short distance beyond the intersection with Ferguson Road in Gilroy, we turned off Pacheco Pass onto Cañada Road and curled up through bright green hills on a sparkling California spring morning. Cañada Road’s full nine-mile length connects Pacheco Pass (Highway 152) with the Gilroy Hot Springs Road close to Coe Park’s Hunting Hollow entrance, but we would not go that far. The gate to Doan Ranch is a short distance over the crest of the hill where we exchanged views of Hollister and the Gabilan Range for the endless corrugations of the inner Coast Range.
From the ranch entrance, we walked a narrow corridor between two oak-studded hills and emerged into a vast wide-open landscape; so open that it seemed we could choose any compass point and stroll the hilltops forever. I half expected to see Julie Andrews, head tilted back, arms outspread, break into song. Checkerbloom, pansies, shooting stars dotted the rolling green carpet with spring color. With each step along this high divide, the view widened until Gilroy and the Santa Cruz Mountains appeared far beneath us.
Our only heart-pounding effort came after a steep drop into a narrow canyon carved by San Ysidro Creek. We descended through a forest of coast live oaks that shaded lupine and fuchsia flowering gooseberry with strings of beautiful red flowers dangling from their branches. At the bottom, San Ysidro Creek, which marks the ranch boundary, meekly trickled its way toward the Santa Clara Valley and the Pajaro River.
Some landscapes, steep and rough, demand a hard day’s work from a hiker. But Doan Ranch is a gentle landscape that has the grand spectator value that usually comes only after a heart-pounding effort. If you love the beauty of nature, but hate to hike, Doan Ranch is for you. No hiking here, only gentle wandering.
While Doan Ranch is not open for drop-by visits, anyone can arrange to go there on a docent-led trip by contacting Teri Rogoway at the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority. She wants you to see it, and the docents want to take you there. Contact Rogoway at 408.224.7476 or via email at   [email protected].   

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