Harwood Farms – Suburban Ranch Near Belwood

Horse at Harwood FarmsHarwood Farms horse boarding is right in Los Gatos and conveniently close to trails – and home!

It would be easy to miss this cool horse ranch unless you were walking past it while trekking up the hill to the Ridge Trail entrance at Belgatos Park. This beautiful setting is surrounded by luxury homes on Alerche Drive, Harwood Court, Harwood Lane, and Crider Court.

It’s almost out of place as a bit of rural California in an otherwise residential neighborhood. One hint that it’s ahead is the “horse” sign on Harwood Road near Bacigalupi Drive.  Another is the sight of large parcels with split rail fences in front, suggesting the presence of horses not so long ago. In fact, there were some horses downhill of Harwood Farms when we moved into the neighborhood in 1999.

If you overshoot the ranch when driving by and then turn around, you’ll get a sense of the setting and views from a little uphill.

 

View from Harwood Court - Harwood Farms Horse Boarding

 

While south county has many equestrian centers, Harwood Farms horse boarding is one of just a few in east Los Gatos. If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth checking out!

Recently Clair and I visited and were toured around by Frank, one of the owners of the ranch. We were highly impressed and have updated this article with a few images and info from that visit.

 

Horse stalls at Harwood Farms

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Harwood Road in east Los Gatos is a meridian

Jim Handy and Bella at Belgatos Park

Jim Handy and Bella at Belgatos Park

Do you like maps?  My better half, Jim Handy, is crazy about them. And when he learned that the road just on the other side of the house next door is actually a meridian, he got pretty excited. I think it’s the engineer in him – that beautiful, inner geek – that loves the analysis of it all.

Today’s blog entry, then, is a Guest Post by my map enthusiast (and former volunteer parks commissioner), Jim Handy. This post originally published on LiveInLosGatos.com.

Many think of Harwood Road as the far eastern boundary of Los Gatos, which it nearly is, but there’s much more to this humble road than that.  Travel uphill to the top of the road and you can see views of the entire valley and get into beautiful Belgatos Park and Santa Rosa Open Space, but the majority of the street, the straight part of Harwood Road, has the distinction of following the Mount Diablo Meridian.

View of downtown San Jose from near the top of Harwood Road and Belgatos Park

View of downtown San Jose from near the top of Harwood Road and Belgatos Park

 

Back in California’s early days, great tracts of land known as Ranchos or Spanish Land Grants were defined by features that sometimes changed: they might run north to the edge of a creek, east to a tree, south to a boulder,  etc.  Some of  these landmarks could move a bit over time, but when you’re dealing with a tract of thousands of acres, these alterations are very small overall. (more…)

Grass Fires in Silicon Valley

Today is Labor Day – it’s many things, but it’s also the end of summer. But it’s not the end of the dry season. In fact, the rains won’t really arrive until November. So between now and then, the fire danger will continue to rise in our hilly, rural areas.

A few days ago, the coastal hills near Stevens Creek Reservoir and the Montebello Ridge over Cupertino (just a little north of Los Gatos) burned fiercely.  It took a couple of days and a lot of firefighters to extinguish it.

Now the hills by Mount Hamilton on the east side are ablaze too. We just took a quick drive to the top of Harwood Road to see the enormous plume of smoke rising over the hills by south San Jose.

What does this have to do with Belwood, Belgatos & Surmont?  Earlier today, Bella and I took a walk down Bacigalupi Drive and into Belgatos Park, entering on the side, as we do most days. The grassy area there is parched. The path is covered in wood chips and tanbark. And to my horror, I saw two cigarette butts among the wood chips.

Belgatos Park in Los Gatos CA in FebruaryBelgatos Park in Los Gatos CA in May

 

 

 

 

 

Smoking is not illegal in the park, as my husband (the volunteer parks commissioner) reminded me today. But it is very unwise to do it in the tinderbox areas which comprise most of the park.

Should we put a polite request at the entrance to the park that cigarettes are a great danger to the park, to Belwood and to Los Gatos as a whole, and that putting them out in the grassy areas is inadvisable???

To me it’s obvious: fire season and burning objects over dry grass don’t mix. But apparently it’s not obvious to everyone.

Fire season’s not over yet. Let’s hope that common sense prevails and we won’t have any more senseless fires.