Bear Creek Redwood Preserve near Los Gatos. (Photo by Leigh Ann Gessner)

A redwood forest preserve near Silicon Valley that was saved 20 years ago from becoming a golf course and luxury home development recently opened to the public for the first time.

Environmental leaders celebrated the opening on June 7. The 1,432-acre property, three miles south of Los Gatos, was acquired by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 1999.

Measure AA, approved by local voters in 2014, helped Midpen begin restoration and open the first phase of public access, Midpen General Manager Ana María Ruiz said.

“Bear Creek Redwoods is one of our truly special places, and now the public can connect with nature in its cool redwood forests and discover its rich history,” Ruiz said.

The site was set to become a golf course and luxury home development during Silicon Valley’s first tech boom — until a public-private partnership, led by Midpen and the Peninsula Open Space Trust, protected it in 1999.

Before that, native Ohlone, and then Gold Rush-era loggers, wealthy estate owners and Jesuit seminarians used the forest for centuries.

Midpen is restoring its creeks and once clear-cut redwood forests to health. In partnership with Valley Water, Midpen is also removing invasive plants like English ivy and French broom to allow wildflowers, rare salamanders and other native species to thrive.

New visitor amenities include an ADA-accessible path around the historic Upper Lake, interpretive information about the site’s natural and cultural history and six miles of new hiking and equestrian trails through the forested slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The park along Bear Creek Road is open to the public every day, from sunrise to sunset. Parking is limited at the preserve and visitors are encouraged to visit during a weekday if possible or plan a visit later this summer.

For more information and directions, visit