Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park neighborhood are situated in west Los Gatos near the Campbell and Saratoga borders. As they are close to the large Safeway and surrounding shops along Pollard Road, this is a very convenient community.In this area you’ll find a beautiful park and tidy neighborhood with homes of varying sizes and price tags. From looking at the plat maps, I believe that originally this entire area was part of the Rinconada Hills tract of land, but today just part of the area, the gated community, bears that name. (Video below of a sampling of the area that I took from 2014!)
Please continue reading for much more information on the neighborhood!
Spring has stretched into summer and while closure protocols remain in place, the Town of Los Gatos has been progressively re-opening.
Safe Summer Reading
Socially distant opportunities are ever-expanding. The Town Library is working hard to circulate your summer-reads safely. Residents can now check-out material online with safe patio pick-up for books, CDs, and DVDs. Virtual services include online classes and remote storytimes in addition to the virtual library services already in place.
Unfortunately, increasing virus spread has led to a rollback on opening many indoor services. Outdoors, however, there’s plenty to do!
Back in May the Town Council began work and the April-approved reallocation of $1.9M in surplus to bolster local COVID-19 economic recovery. Some of this has been used to help create the outdoor expansions into temporary parklets.
If you haven’t been downtown recently, it’s all hustle and bustle with the new setup. Patio dining is now available at many of your favorite restaurants. Personal services including hair salons, cosmetologists, nail salons, and barbershops are now also open for business – outdoors and by reservation only. The weekly farmers market is still open for business every Sunday.
While indoor malls remain closed you can still enter shops in outdoor malls or at standalone stores, so window-shoppers, follow the posted rules and enjoy stalking the shelves!
Re-Opening the Outdoors
Trails and parks remain open with social distancing requirements. Boating on Vasona Lake is open with plenty of safety protocols in place. County parks have yet to reopen playgrounds, water fountains, and group picnic sites, according to their website, so keep that in mind when you plan a Vasona visit. Town parks have reopened some sports equipment (such as tennis courts), and playgrounds, picnic tables, and BBQ areas are all open for use. The Town of Los Gatos is accepting picnic site reservations online again.
Today my family and I walked over to Belgatos Park (our usual haunt) and saw a number of people out on bikes or walking en route. We wondered if there would be kids in close proximity on the playground, but the answer is no – it’s cordoned off for public safety during the coronavirus “Shelter in Place”. Makes sense.
The police tape prohibiting entrance to the playground comes with a sign about the closure.
There is a small pocket of Los Gatos with Los Gatos High School (Los Gatos schools) close to Ace Hardware and Live Oak Manor Park just off of Los Gatos-Almaden Road and Los Gatos Boulevard. It’s sometimes called the Live Oak Manor neighborhood. Some may call it the Carlton area, after the major street that runs through it. I have heard Realtors refer to it as “the Garcia tract” after the main builder in that neighborhood. For our purposes, I’ll call it the Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area to distinguish other parts of Carlton which have a different school district (Union School District) or are in the Cambrian area of San Jose.
Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area: location, location, location
This area is super convenient for commuters. It’s only about a half mile to the on ramp to Highway 17, and about 1 mile to Highway 85. If the freeway is backed up, it’s easy enough to get to alternate routes, such as Highway 9 or San Tomas Expressway. For those who work at Good Samaritan Hospital or one of the nearby medical offices, work is a short walk or bike ride away.
It’s not so close to downtown Los Gatos that it gets socked in with beach traffic on summer weekends. It’s easy to get to restaurants and shops along Los Gatos Boulevard, a short jaunt to the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and a quick trip to get to the JCC on Oka Road. Need groceries? Nob Hill is only a half mile away, as is the Los Gatos Cafe Uptown, Una Mas, and several other tempting destinations.
A huge plus, of course, are the highly regarded Los Gatos schools. This area is a little less expensive than nearby neighborhoods such as Blossom Manor to the south.
For many, being close to a neighborhood park is another important perk – a place to run the dogs, for kids to play, or just to get out of the house without needing a car.
Something else that should be noted is that this is a scenic pocket and most of the streets are tree lined, making it a pleasant place to be even if none of the neighborhood amenities are enjoyed.
Just west and south of the intersection of Blossom Hill Road and Harwood Road sits a neighborhood of Los Gatos homes with three subdivisions: Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos & Surmont. Nearby public landmarks are Belgatos Park and the Walgreen’s shopping center (corner of Blossom Hill and Harwood), with a Mountain Mike’s Pizza and a Starbucks coffee shop.
For many Los Gatans, all three of these east Los Gatos areas (and sometimes a broader one still) are generally referred to as “Belwood” or “Belwood-Belgatos.” (The Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police cert map identifies the whole region plus the Strathmore neighborhood, which is across Blossom Hill Road, as “Belwood” generally.)
The terrain is nearly level, with very low, gentle hills over most of the area. With winding, mostly tree-lined roads and tidy houses, it’s a very attractive neighborhood overall. For those looking for an arduous climb on foot or bike, though, Harwood Road provides a nice challenge. At the top, you’ll see a fantastic view of downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley for your trouble. (There are some challenges to be found in the open space trails, too.)
Belgatos Park and trails
At the middle of this community is the very inviting Belgatos Park, a scenic, setting which includes a playground near the parking lot, picnic areas, restrooms, trails into the hills (with some wonderful valley views), and access to the Heinz Open Space Preserve and its network of trails also. (And it’s not far to the Santa Rosa Open Space area either.)
One hill attracts kids who enjoy sliding down it on bits of cardboard, and thus has been nicknamed “cardboard hill” for decades. Most of the time these cardboard sledding enthusiasts are pretty good about picking up their “sledding vehicles” when done.
The paths are popular with people on foot, but also those on mountain bikes or horseback. As there are a few larger properties which are zoned for horses in the area, this is a very nice equestrian option.
For photographers, the park has abundant worthy subjects year round, both of the open space and the valley views below. In the early morning hours, or near sunset, you may see some deer too. But be careful: bobcats and mountain lions are in these hills also.
What are homes like in Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont?
This may be an El Niño winter, but right now there’s a break in the precipitation. As much as we appreciate the rain, we also appreciate the warm, sunny, dry days also. Yesterday I broke out of work mode for an hour and enjoyed a walk at Vasona Lake County Park. Here are a few photos. To my readers in snowy climates, yes, Los Gatos really can be this nice in February!