Once Upon a Ride…Ward Road

Jim Westby rides down Ward Road in 1989, back when it was still a road.

Jim Westby rides down Ward Road in 1989, back when it was still a road.


November 16, 1980
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Tom Ritchey, Ray Hosler, Bill Robertson, Bill Fallis, Mel?, Keith Vierra, Tim Nicholson, Matt?, Bob?
Weather: Cold and partly cloudy
Route: Up Page Mill Road, south on Skyline Boulevard to Hwy 9, Ward Road, Haul Road to Loma Mar, Stage Road to Hwy 84 and home.
Tire/Mechanical: Tom – front flat; Matt – gear slip; Jobst – chain clunk

On a cold November day, temperature hovering around 40 degrees, we set off not knowing where we were headed. Jobst led the way up Page Mill Road and then south on Skyline Boulevard. By the time we reached Skyline, several riders had peeled off.

I had been studying topographic maps of the area (no Google maps) and wanted to try out Ward Road, which looked like it would take us down to the Haul Road. Jobst wasn’t interested, but Tom was, so the two of us took a right at the Jokoji Zen Center (Ward Road).

I didn’t bring a map, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to get there as we came upon several dome homes and the Zen center. We stopped to ask directions and a Zen-looking elder showed us the way. We traded words with several “students” soaking in the filtered sun and hazy air. They looked so mellow.

We headed off, not really sure where Ward Road would take us. We came upon a patch of old pavement while continuing to descend (probably Long Ridge Road) and saw some summer cabins. At a vantage point we took in Portola State Park, Portola Road and the Pacific in the distance. This didn’t look right, so we headed back up the steep road.

After a few more wrong turns we figured we were headed the right direction. Tom and I stopped again at an overlook and peered into the heavily forested Oil Creek basin. Tom decided we needed to take the right fork (he was right), so we headed down the steep dirt road absent of houses, going through a couple of gates on the way.

At one point we came across some old, long-abandoned cabins in a level area [long since removed]. A “state park” sign told us we were in the outer reaches of Portola State Park.

Finally, we arrived at Pescadero Creek and knew were headed the right direction. After a short steep climb we emerged onto the Haul Road. “Look at that,” Tom said. “Tracks.” Sure enough, Jobst and friends had taken the Haul Road from Hwy 9 at Waterman Gap.

Tom headed home on Portola Park Road, while I continued on the Haul Road, searching for Jobst. The tracks were still easy to follow. I noticed one rider took a wrong turn (it was Keith). I came across Bill Robertson at Wurr Road as I left the Haul Road.

He said Jobst and the other riders headed to Loma Mar, where I found them stopped for food. We headed back home via Stage Roads and Hwy 84.

[Ward Road offered quite a few adventure rides in the ensuing years. I’m pretty sure Tom and I were the first cyclists to take Ward Road. There was a cadre of pre-mountain-bike klunker riders in Cupertino, but I don’t expect they ventured that far out. ]

Brian Cox clears debris on Ward Road. We also removed invasive thistle.

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4 Responses to “Once Upon a Ride…Ward Road”

  1. scottwbradley Says:

    I love Ward Rd. What a great decent and/or along painful climb. We used to ride up 9 then to Ward Rd. Decend to Haul rd. Up Butano Ridge. Sunset trail? (end of China Grade) to Big basin. Gazos to Chalk Mt. Chalk Mt to highway 1. Ride to Santa Cruz. Get home somehow. Usually call a friend or hitch hike over 17.

  2. Slonie Says:

    This one sounds like it might be impassible these days… And that’s before getting to the parts of Old Haul that are marked private… (but I’m so intrigued anyway…)

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