Santa Clara County

Date reviewed - 10/07

Reviewed by: LionZoo

Fun . . . . . . . . 5
Difficulty . . . . .High
Traffic . . . . . . None
Driveways . . . .None
Condition . . . . Fair
Length . . . . . .18 miles

San Antonio Valley Rd. is 18 miles of one the greatest mountain roads in the area. A continuation of Mt. Hamilton Rd. going east and north of the observatory, San Antonio Valley is a little faster and a bit wider than Mt. Hamilton. In addition, there is virtually no traffic on the road as there is no real reason for people to use it, thus San Antonio Valley is kind of what Mt. Hamilton would be if all its problems were fixed. San Antonio Valley has several different personalities along its entire length that is blended well. All of this makes the road one of the best drives around, and also one of the best kept secrets in the Bay Area.

Past the observatory, San Antonio Valley starts out with a series of esses along the ridge of the mountain that you can take at the top of 2nd gear if you're pushing. Soon enough, the road starts to lose elevation rapidly and a constant flurry of hairpins connected by short straights greets you. The hairpins are slow though most have a little bit of runoff to give a small margin of error. This section is quite hard on your brakes as the short straights and downhill hairpins give them little chance to cool off. Some of the hairpins also drop a bit in the middle of the corner though there are no decreasing radius turns to catch you out.

The road will soon stop dropping elevation and come to a brief valley. After you cross a one lane bridge the barrage of tight hairpins end and you are greeted with slightly longer straights connected by esses. This section is a bit different in flavor, but just as fun. The back and forth corners really help build a rhythm and you can build a bit of speed on the straights. However, there is still the occasional tight hairpin to keep you on your feet, but the section gets faster as you go along and soon the road starts throwing fast sweepers at you. The road will then climb a bit and a final section of esses greets you before the road turns northward.

As the road goes northward, the road takes you through a board river valley and you will pass through an area where you can see horses on either side. The road here is mostly straight and you can easily reach triple digits, but there is wildlife on either side which can make it a bit dangerous. Though there is barbed wire at the side of the road, I have seen deer jump over them. The view to either side is pretty good though and soon enough you will reach an intersection where you can continue northward on Mines Rd. or turn right onto Del Puerto Canyon Rd.

San Antonio Valley is a great drive and there is almost no traffic on the road even in daylight on the weekends. The surface is acceptable, but slightly choppy in places and visibility is not great. Nonetheless, in the many times I've driven the road I only remember seeing four cars so that is not as big of a problem. I have not seen a single bicyclist here though they seem ubiquitous in the rest of the Bay Area. Though it's so rarely traveled, the road always seems quite clean. However, there are cattle bars throughout the road. They are well marked and generally placed on a straight, but a couple are in the middle of corners and so it is advisable to slow for them.

Though Mt. Hamilton Rd., Mines Rd., and Del Puerto Canyon Rd. all seem to have their fans, San Antonio Valley Rd. is very rarely mentioned which is a bit puzzling as in my opinion it is probably the best road in the area. There is some wildlife in the area and I have seen mountain lion running on the road in the middle of the night so watch out for them. Nonetheless, this is probably the best kept secret of Bay Area roads and now you know.

- Back to Region

Blue: San Antonio Canyon Rd.
Red: Mines Rd.
Yellow: Mt. Hamilton Rd.
Cyan: Del Puerto Canyon Rd.

Looks like a lot of fun.
Looks even better close up.
Heading west on the left, north to the right.