The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is a young, small luxury community in far east Los Gatos found on just two roads: Shannon Oaks Lane and Mountain Laurel Lane, located just off Hicks Road near Shannon Road. This area is part of the Los Gatos Union School District (it’s very close to the border of the Union School District). There are just 14 of these estate quality properties here, mostly on 2-4 acre parcels with between 4000 and 5000 square feet. The homes were built between 2006 and 2008, with most completed in 2008. Naturally, these are multi-million dollar houses. Because it’s a small enclave, turnover is low. The most recent sale named on the multiple listing service was almost 2 years ago (as of late 2016) and was at $3.65 million with 6 bedrooms, so you could reasonably expect that homes in this area would be worth between $4 and $5 today in most cases, perhaps more.
A recent visit to the neighborhood reveals that much of the landscaping is now fairly mature. Many neighbors have landscaped for privacy, which is understandable, but doesn’t afford a very good view of these gorgeous properties. Here are a couple to give you an idea. The homes, the land, and the scenery nearby area all exceptional.
One of the things I love about these houses is that they are comfortably spread out, mostly “ranch style,” and it fits so well with the setting.
Where is Shannon Valley Ranch?
Shannon Valley Ranch is close to the intersection of Hicks and Shannon Road, not too far from Camden Avenue (but it feels a world away) and close to the San Jose / Almaden border. When I pulled the boundaries of the subdivision, the map of the parcels’ location had a funny “jog” up toward Santa Rosa. I believe that segment is not yet built out, and I cannot explain the shape. It is what can be found on the county records, however.
One of the nicest things about this location is the scenery and hiking available. There’s a trail that connects this area with the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and the network of paths that meanders over Blossom Hill (the hill, not the road) to the Heintz Open Space Preserve and Belgatos Park. I’ll post a trail map below the open space trail slideshow. Some of it does require traversing streets, but probably 98% is dirt walkways.
From a few years ago – here are some photos from the Shannon Valley Open Space trail. In the distance, see the Guadalupe Landfill, and below it, the Brookside Development in Almaden (with Los Gatos schools), which is now fully built. The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is off to the right of this photo and when these photos were taken, the neighborhood was not yet built out.
Coming soon – info on the Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood. For now, though, here are some photos of the Shannon Valley open space and trail – a lovely area with fantastic views.
These photos date back almost two years, to January 2013 (a dry, pleasant winter day!) so views of the housing that was going in then will be quite different looking now.
On the right: in the distance, see the Guadalupe Landfill, also known simply as “the dump” locally, which is accessed off of Guadalupe Mines Road. Below it , see the Brookside Development in Almaden (with Los Gatos schools) getting ready for building. Those homes are in now – at least many are!
Same photo – The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is off to the right, in Los Gatos at the far eastern edge. The dividing line between Almaden and Los Gatos is the Guadalupe Creek – though the school district does not stop at the creek boundary, oddly enough.
The next image, seen on the left, is of the Shannon Valley Ranch Open Space Trail. This connects to a network of trails in east Los Gatos though you have to cross Santa Rosa Drive to go from one to the next. Even so, from here you can reach the Santa Rosa Open Space, Heinz Open Space, and also Belgatos Park trails – whether you are walking, mountain biking, or riding horseback, it’s possible to go and go with only a very short patch on asphalt as you traverse Santa Rosa Drive.
The views are gorgeous from the Shannon Open Space trails, which is situated on the back side of Blossom Hill (the actual hill, not the road). Looking across, you see the coastal foothills and local landmarks such as Loma Prieta. To the east, you can enjoy views of Almaden and the east foothills, depending on your vantage point. The hill is not too steep – though I’m the first to admit that I’d rather be walking down than up!
Something to be aware of is that with all this open space there also comes wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, deer, mountain lions, skunks, possums, racoons, rats, mice and snakes. Rattlesnakes are indigenous to this area and they sometimes like to come out on the trails to sun themselves, so please be careful when walking, running, or hiking or otherwise moving across these spaces. You don’t want to find a rattler with your foot!
Here’s a sign that I found both disturbing and amusing regarding the presence of snakes (and also who’s got the right of way on the trail). I never knew who was supposed to yield to whom vis-a-vis horses, pedestrians and bicyclists – did you? But according to this sign, folks riding horseback are to give way to those on foot or bikes.
This upcoming winter it is expected (and frankly, after the prolonged drought, HOPED) that we will have an El Nino year with abundant rain. If you have never been out to the Shannon Valley Open Space area – do it sooner rather than later.
In my house, if you ask the question “do you want to take a walk?” outloud, you’d better be prepared to make a quick exit, leash in hand.
Our family dog, Bella, will begin to jump and run to convey her response: “yes! yes! yes, I want to go on a walk and I want to go right now!” So like with small children and words like “candy”, in our home, sometimes we have to spell out the word or use code to see if other non-dogs under the roof want to come along. “Do you have time for a ‘W’?” usually works, although I suspect that Bella is catching on – just like kids who learn to spell “candy” before anything else.
The main attraction is Belgatos Park (330 Belgatos Lane, Los Gatos), which offers a few entrances, including one on our street just about 3 blocks from our front door. Like most parks, Belgatos has a playground, picnic areas, large grassy areas for frisbee throwing and other games, and benches. It also has a public restroom and a parking lot. Beyond the useful spots at the main entrance that are fairly common to most parks, though, there lie many many forested and grassy trails stretching up the hill – a full 17 acres plus connections to huge open space preserves and trails as well (those being the Heinz Open Space Preserve, reached off Regent Drive, and the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve, accessed from either the top of Harwood Road or off Santa Rosa Drive or Madera along the ridge of the hill). I can’t tell where the park ends and the open space begins – but the combined acreage is enormous and it’s a delight to explore.
Belgatos Park is where nature meets suburbia. The base looks like any city park but with a backdrop (the rising hill and winding paths) that beckons: come and see what you can find.
And it also seems to work the other way, too. The park is a bit of a conduit for nature to find its way into east Los Gatos too. You don’t always need to go far to find it.
In a tall eucalyptus tree in the parking lot (as you enter the park, it’s on your left side), there’s a large hawk’s nest. Depending on the time of day, and perhaps the bird’s mood or appetite, you may hear repeated screetches coming from this tree or another nearby. The hawk is lovely to watch and it will be fun when the little ones hatch.
Late in the afternoons or early in the mornings, particularly in winter, deer are seen nibbling on the bright green grass close to the same small parking lot too. There’s a little cluster of trees and bushes down by a neighbor’s fence, perhaps 15 feet from the pavement, and you sometimes find an entire family of deer enjoying pre-prandials.
Not wild, but fun for kids, are the goats which belong to the homeowner living to the right of Belgatos Park. Walk up the hill on the asphalt path and you will hear them, and then, most likely, you will smell them. They are cute! You can’t touch the two goats, but it’s always a delight to see something so unusual a stone’s throw from a regular neighborhood.
Continue up the hill on the paved path and you will see the usual assortment of small creatures – squirrels, birds, lizards, and possibly more. Possum and racoons abound. My husband, who hikes there frequently, saw a bobcat close to the playground on the trail there. We’ve seen deer many, many times. Jim has seen coyotes as well. Watch for poison oak, rattle snakes, ticks and black widow spiders: these are a part of nature you want to know about, but not encounter first-hand. Ditto that for the mountain lions who inhabit this land and have been known to walk down past Belwood and into Cambrian Park too. Pay attention.
As you climb, the views become increasingly more lovely with knotted oak and manzanita trees shading the trails, sometimes redwoods too, grassy spots emerging from time to time around bends, and glimpses of the valley below peeking through the openings in the skyline. Most days, the sky is a bright blue with only a few clouds dotting the horizon for interest’s sake. Some days, though, we have a “heat inversion” and there’s a lid of air sitting atop our valley, holding in what would normally blow off with breezes from the San Francisco Bay each afternoon at around 4pm. That lid keeps the heat – and the poor air – trapped. When that happens, the sky turns a disgusting shade of brown or taupe. When you see it, you don’t need to hear the advisory that it is a “spare the air” day. Luckily, the air has gotten cleaned up considerably since I was a teenager here in the 70’s. In any event, the view won’t lie. You’ll know, when you get a little elevation, how the environment is doing that day. No need to read about it online or in print. Take a hike, and you’ll see for yourself.
Where will you go? Depending on which path you choose, you may end up at the top of Harwood Road or you could be on Santa Rosa Drive. As mentioned, Belgatos Park also connects with the Heinz Open Space Preserve and The Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve so there are a myriad of possibilities. No matter which path you take, it will be scenic. You may run into mountain bikers or folks on horseback. Or you may get up close and personal with some wildlife. I do suggest long pants and shoes, not flip flops – just last week, our daughter came home from a hike with a tick who decided to hitch a ride. Since Belgatos Park touches the suburbs, it’s easy to ignore the fact that it is basically untamed land and, as my buddy (a Realtor and fellow blogger) Steve Leung points out, we are then encroaching on their space. So realize where you are and pay attention. I happen to think the park is a very photogenic place, so my other suggestion is bring a camera along too.