So did the headline have you wondering if this is a real place? Because, hummingbirds, we have seen them moving at incredible speeds. But here in the Santa Cruz mountains, we have one such place, which is considered a resting place for hummingbirds.
So let us go where the hummingbirds rest.
Though we had always seen and long wondered about that strange cube like structure on top of the mountain over there, I learned about this place via a friend’s Facebook post. The name, Mt.Umunhum itself, drew me in, made me curious about it. This was back in Oct 2017. So I decided to check out more about this place.
Mt.Umunhum, literally means (in Ohlone), ‘the resting place of the hummingbirds’. While our trip in December to this place did not yield any hummingbird sightings, I would blame only our timing, of the day and of the season, for that lack. Planning a late spring trip – or rather hike up this mountain – will definitely result in more wildlife sightings, including the hummingbirds, I am sure of that. Enough of going off on a tangent, and back to the mountain itself.
Mt.Umunhum is the fourth highest peak in California’s Santa Cruz mountains at 3,486 feet. It has a viewshed of about 2000 square miles on clear days, impressive, isn’t it?
Information that might interest you and tips if you plan to make the hike (about 8 miles round trip from the base to summit and back):
- Mt.Umunhum area is open from 7 am upto half-an-hour after sunset. Please note that the entrance gates close at sunset (they open automatically outwards as visitors exit the park).
- Per the Open Space website, currently no permits are being issued for group activities/events in the Mount Umunhum area. And you can check here for updates
- This trail was opened to the public on September 18, 2017. The trail starts at the parking lot of Bald Mountain Trail. You can only park at the designated parking spaces.
- Start early to give yourself enough time for the round trip (per various hikers’ estimates, this can take on average about 4.5 hours)
- Carry enough water, as there is no drinking water available on the mountain; and yes, some snacks too
- Plan to stop for the gorgeous viewpoints
- Keep an eye out for poison oak, rattle snakes, and ticks. Mountain lions have been sighted too (but we did not have any wildlife sightings on our short partial hike)
- Don’t forget your camera, the views are, as I mention, gorgeous (even for that little part of the hike we did on our late evening partial hike in December)
- While the trail is long and takes time, it is easy access, and shaded by mandrake, manzanita, among other trees for quite a bit of the way. This is making it a popular hiking trail in the bay area.
- Don’t forget, the Cube is right there to guide you to the top, almost taunting you to make it there, as you climb
- At the summit, take your time to enjoy the views, to read all about Mt.Umunhum, to explore the ceremonial site of the Amah Mutsun tribal band. To the Amah Mutsun, the hummingbird is part of the Creation story. According to this story, Hummingbird brought fire to them from the underground badger people, and saved the Amah Mutsun with his bravery and intelligence.
- And if you do end up arriving late at the park, you can do what we did, hike up to the Guadalupe Creek Overlook which is about a mile one way from the parking lot at the base. And on return back to the car, if time permits, drive up the brand-new roads all the while enjoying the drive to the summit, and you can still explore and enjoy the summit views
- The ‘Cube’ is not accessible to the public – wired fence around it prevents you from entering or touching it, but you can walk right up to it. And viewing it up close does feel like we have returned back in time. Regarding the ‘Cube’ as it is called by the locals, it’s official name is the Radar Tower, and it was part of the Almaden Air Force Station. It housed the radar antenna for surveillance to detect possible attacks during the Cold War, and finally was closed in 1980. Today, it is the only surviving structure out of a outpost of over 90 buildings from that time, thanks to many who ensured it be included into the County of Santa Clara Heritage Resource Inventory. And it is awe-inspiring inspite of its box like appearance.
All photos in today’s post were taken by me during our trip to Mt.Umunhum last month.