Whether you're spending a wonderful day with your loved ones or enjoying some quality time with friends, the Open Space Authority is excited for visitors to experience the beauty of Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve.
Nestled in the Diablo Range foothills, Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve is a wild and rugged landscape located just south of San José off Highway 101. Here, visitors can explore four different trails, three of which are located inside a "Habitat Protection Area" featuring rare serpentine grasslands - and will require a Butterfly Pass for entry.
The Habitat Protection Area's grasslands provide a sanctuary for a wide variety of rare plants and wildlife, many of which have teetered on the edge of extinction. Among them are the Bay checkerspot butterfly, the Metcalf Canyon jewelflower, California red-legged frogs and tiger salamanders, tule elk, Western burrowing owls, golden eagles, and numerous other birds of prey.
Here's a sneak peek at what is required at the new preserve opens:
1. Butterfly passes
Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve is unlike any other managed by the Open Space Authority. The majority of trails here go through a Habitat Protection Area, highly sensitive habitat requiring a Butterfly Pass for access. Visitors are encouraged to download the pass on your phone (or print) before arrival.
Click HERE to get your 2023 Butterfly Pass.
2. know which trails require a butterfly pass
Download the official Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve brochure here.
Máyyan Wáayi (Coyote Valley) Overlook Trail
Distance: 1,000 feet | Average Grade: 5%
Máyyan Wáayi, pronounced My-yahn Why-yee, is the Chochenyo translation for Coyote Valley. This gentle trail starts at the central gathering area, passes through an open meadow, and climbs to an overlook of Coyote Valley, nestled in a serpentine rock outcropping strewn with lichen-covered boulders. Rest at a shaded picnic area or bench with quiet views, listen for Western meadowlarks, or enjoy the wildflowers in the spring.
Serpentine Spring Trail - BUTTERFLY PASS REQUIRED
Distance: 1.3 miles | Elevation change: 1,000 feet
This challenging climb is worth the stunning views! Shortly past the main trailhead, take in views of Coyote Valley and San José. Look for shining green serpentine rock, essential for the area’s native wildflowers. After a freshwater spring, which supports rare Mount Hamilton thistle, the trail rises again, with an interpretive overlook and rest area after some of the steepest sections. You may see cow trails crossing the landscape, but don’t be fooled, these narrow paths are not for human travel.
Tule Elk Trail - BUTTERFLY PASS REQUIRED
Distance: 1.3 miles | Elevation change: <50 feet
Following this gentle trail across the ridgetop, take in stunning views of southern Santa Clara Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and an area known as Shingle Valley within the Diablo Range to the east. Keep an eye out for golden eagles and other raptors soaring over the mix of serpentine and California annual grasslands.
Bay Checkerspot Trail - BUTTERFLY PASS REQUIRED
Distance: 2.5 miles | Elevation change: 1,000 feet
This trail drops down to cross a tributary of Coyote Creek before rising up through serpentine grasslands. As you climb, the trail follows a steep ravine passing through oak and manzanita, before bringing you back into the grasslands with views of Coyote Valley and Morgan Hill. The trail continues its rise, bringing you to the ridgetop.
3. Check the hours before you visit
This preserve is different from other Open Space Authority preserves -- here we operate on NATURE TIME so the hours of operation will change throughout the year based on the needs of the habitat and wildlife. Be sure you check the preserve's hours before you make the trip.
Click here to download the Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve Know Before You Go operations calendar.
4. know the rules and guidelines
All visitors are guests in this treasured landscape which is home to a variety of wildlife. Every step off the trail, piece of trash left behind, or flower picked endangers this critical wildlife habitat.
- Visitors must stay on designated trails at all times.
- Do not disturb any wildlife - including plants and animals found at the preserve. Please keep a respectful distance from all wildlife. Avoid a higher risk of encountering snakes, ticks, and poison oak by staying on designated trails.
- Nature is for everyone! Share the trail and pack out ALL trash or food items. Take nothing and leave nothing behind.
- There are no pets or drones allowed at the preserve.
The Open Space Authority maintains the right to ask visitors to leave for not following the rules.
5. Learn as you go!
Check out our introduction to the educational panels at the preserve, where you can learn about the plants and wildlife that call Máyyan 'Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve home. And to better prepare for your trip, read our Beginner's Guide to Hiking.