Headwaters of the Guadalupe River

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The Guadalupe River runs through the Silicon Valley and begins in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Many tributaries, or natural springs, join together at the lowest point of a canyon in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.  The river grows in strength as the water makes its way from the mountain peaks down the bedrock of the canyon floor. Many magnificent waterfalls can be found along the headwaters of the Guadalupe during the rainy season Nov-May. For me, the beauty of these waterfalls is unmatchable because they can be found so close to home.

The wildlife diversity at the Headwaters of the Guadalupe River is spectacular. I have seen many different species of reptile and amphibians such as the Worm Salamander and California Newt as well as fascinating insects like the Vined White butterfly and the Hummingbird Moth.  The bird speciation in this region is remarkable, including raptors like the Golden Eagle to Allies like the Dark-eyed Junco. All of this speciation occurs because of the wide plant variety that is found here. Many types of ferns, fungi, nectar giving wildflowers, berry producing vines and shrubs, and nut giving trees blanket the forest floor. Also in these mountains lives a predator who creeps among the shadows. On the afternoon of 7/21/11 while walking the bend over the first tributary after the Sierra Azul Parking lot, two other hikers and I witnessed two Mountain Lions on a ridge eight feet above us. They noticed us just as we noticed them and the lions slipped away into the shadows of the dense forest.  Later on that hike we flagged down a ranger and told him the details of our sighting, expressing some envy he told us it was a lucky sighting.

The Guadalupe River is a major source that contributes to the wildlife diversity of the Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, our civilization places many restrictions on the habitat that can be witnessed miles back in the Canyon. Massive collections of tires, appliances, glass chemical bottles, rusty metal, and plastic can be found along the banks of the headwaters. Even a single use plastic Starbucks Coffee cup with the recently updated logo was found along the trail. It just goes to show how wide spread the problem of one use, mass consumption is and that even waterfalls in the Santa Cruz Mountains are subject to our misguided misuse and degradation. Hikers, Pack out what you pack in.

Viva la Guadalupe!


One Response to Headwaters of the Guadalupe River

  1. Jeffrey Caldwell says:

    Hi Greg,

    The red cone flower is Indian Warrior, or Warrior’s Plume, Pedicularis densiflora, Orobanchaceae.

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