Take in a view of the hills from the Strathmore neighborhood of Los Gatos. Beside Blossom Hill with the coastal range rising behind it, homes here enjoy a beautiful backdrop and nature close by with plenty of access to parks and trails. But the beauty and nature is only one part of the wonderful neighborhood.
Despite itss quiet charm, this neighborhood is anything but rural. Access to the freeway and shopping are within a mile, and to east Los Gatos shopping on The Boulevard is a little farther. A pedestrian friendly area with sidewalks and tree lined streets, Strathmore is a popular spot for locals to stroll, jog, bike or otherwise enjoy a little sunshine and shade.
Residents also have the opportunity to benefit from a community pool with a neighborhood youth swim team. But perhaps the biggest draw for Strathmore residents, especially for families with young children, is that it lies within the bounds of a prestigious public school system.
What’s not to love about Strathmore?!
Where is the Strathmore neighborhood?
Strathmore is considered to be in East Los Gatos. Entrance into the neighborhood is generally through Anne Way off of Union Avenue, or by Meadowbrook Drive off of Blossom Hill Road. Anne Way is the main road through Strathmore and is home to the community pool.
Local amenities include Howes Play Lot, Strathmore School, and the Downing Center on Union Avenue, with a Safeway, Chase Bank, restaurants, and the ever popular icecream shop, Sweet Retreat. Freeway access is only a mile North on Union Avenue to the ramp to Highway 85. Vasona Lake County Park is only 2.5 miles West on Blossom Hill, and just a little further to downtown Los Gatos. Southeast from Blossom Hill, in the nearby hills, is access to Belgatos Park and the Hines Open Space Preserve with miles of trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian activities.
In other words, the location is wonderfully convenient. Continue reading
April 03, 2007
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.