Sprig Trail, Merry-Go-Round, and Tan Oak Trail Loop

MODERATE 42 reviews

Sprig Trail, Merry-Go-Round, and Tan Oak Trail Loop is a 8.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Gilroy, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1610 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

Hike past redwoods and the ruins of a land baron's mansion at this park south of San Jose. Mount Madonna County Park is one of the most popular camping destinations in Santa Clara County, and this route is one of the best ways to see all the park has to offer. Sprig Lake trail passes all three of the park's major campgrounds, and makes a scenic ascent (or descent) through one of the prettiest stands of redwoods in the park. Another section of this route passes a pen of captive white fallow deer, then continues through the ruins of the summer house of Henry Miller, a Gold Rush-era land baron whose properties stretched from the Bay Area to Mexico. The last link is the popular Merry-Go-Round Trail connecting to the Sprig Lake Recreation Area (the lake is long gone, but the trails remain.)

hiking
20 days ago

This trail is very close to my home and it is my go-to trail. I really enjoy seeing all the seasons on this trail. It can be too hot when temps go past 95 as there are a few long steep sections with no shade for much of the way. Watch your step as Alligator lizards and small snakes often sun themselves in the sunny sections of the trail and often won’t move until it is too late.

hiking
7 months ago

The Sprig trail will work your legs up the 1.5 mile climb to the ridge, but it then levels and drops back down. Great canopy for most of the loop, but Merry Go Round is exposed and more of a fire road. There are several better single track options to get back down to the Sprig trailhead parking lot. Great for dogs, but be mindful of horses.

hiking
9 months ago

This is overall a great south county loop. It is a little crowded as far as other parks in this county go: on a Tuesday afternoon I passed a dozen people or so, including the people at the Sprig Recreation Area entrance, which is around the midpoint. This park is also a big horse riding area, but due to the recent rain, it is closed to equestrian traffic, so if you're a rule breaker like me it's a good time to let your dog off leash. This means a lot of the trails are very wide unfortunately. I love the cool, shady canopy and mix of redwoods and laurels on Sprig Trail, and the beautiful, rocky chaparral of Merry-Go-Round. I would recommend taking the loop in the opposite order the title suggests, starting with the Tan Oak Trail via Meadow Trail. The Tan Oak trail will take you to a junction with the Lower Miller Trail where you can see the really cool ruins of the Miller summer place. Legend says the park is haunted by the spirit of 19th century cattle baron Henry Miller's 8-year-old daughter, who fell from her horse and broke her neck while out on a ride. Then the Loop Trail Cut-Off will get you to Merry-Go-Round, which will descend the mountain toward the Santa Clara Valley. It is a more exposed fire road, which makes it nicer to do this direction, followed by the shady, winding climb of Sprig Trail back up to the entrance booth. Tie Camp Trail, which bisects the loop, is currently closed, as is a section of the Blackhawk Trail which is noted on the map.

hiking
11 months ago

This local South County trail is a gem. This review only pertains to the Sprig Lake Trail, which begins in the parking lot on Hwy 152 E. The trail is a steep ascent up to the campground and is only 1.8 miles up. It is a great option for a quickie that will get your cardio racing and the turnaround at the campsites is where this review ends. You can complete the loop with the Merry-Go-Round and others that you create back to the parking lot. Not one for little ones, due to the steepness, but 4 legged friends in trail shape will do fine and be tuckered out the rest of the day. Also a great choice for hot days, as the entire route is under the canopy of hardwood and redwoods. Awesome in the rainy moths as it stays fairly dry in the rain due to the trees and the forest scent is intense thanks to the native Bay Laurel trees. Lace up and go...

hiking
Monday, November 21, 2016

This an awesome trail with great views.

hiking
Sunday, October 02, 2016

It was hard but did it

hiking
Friday, September 23, 2016

It was a good hike...a lot of horse $4!t!! LOL

Friday, August 26, 2016

Beautiful I Love it

hiking
Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Nice trails, tall trees, lots of shade..

hiking
Monday, October 12, 2015

Started at Miller House to Loop (S), to Ridge (W), to Sprig (E), to Blackhawk Canyon (W) and back up Ridge and Loop to parking lot. Blackhawk Canyon was the nicest, most serene part of this trail (though currently closed for landslide maintenance, it's easy enough to walk around the gate...). Westbound on Blackhawk is a relentless uphill, and a good workout. Most of the trails around this park were fairly disappointing, mostly because they are wide, flat and boring. Stick to the dotted, hiking only trails if you want a better feel, better scenery, and don't want to dodge horse poop every few inches (EXCESSIVE amounts of it plague this park).

Thursday, July 09, 2015

I live a few miles away and go here weekly or so. To me the best hike for moderate hour and a half or so is to park at sprig lake (not a lake) on the gilroy side near the bottom of the hill. Head to the right side, all the way to the merry-go-round trail, and work your way across the main section of the park to the front trail (can't recall) that ends immediately in front of where you parked. Good scenery, changes in surroundings and changes in intensity. I see there's a meetup here later this week from the valley- maybe I'll crash the party or say hello :)

hiking
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Bay View trail is a great family trail. Well marked at all the junctions with other trails, the entire trail is through redwoods with some beautiful canyons and a great overlook of the Watsonville area all the way to Monterey Bay. Gentle inclines and declines throughout with one steep, but short, section if you loop around onto the East Bay View Trail back towards the entrance to the park. Restrooms and water at the picnic area at the trail head.

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