Black Mountain Backpack Camp

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

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Black Mountain Backpack Camp

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  • Sunset over the Pacific Ocean on the trail to Black Mountain Backpack Camp.- Black Mountain Backpack Camp
  • Pre-dawn light bathing Mount Diablo (3,849 ft), San Francisco Bay, and Silicon Valley.- Black Mountain Backpack Camp
  • Dawn over Silicon Valley from Black Mountain Backpack Camp.- Black Mountain Backpack Camp
  • Foraging deer at dawn near Black Mountain Backpack Camp.- Black Mountain Backpack Camp
  • Dawn light meeting earth near Black Mountain Backpack Camp.- Black Mountain Backpack Camp
  • Monte Bello Open Space Preserve.- Black Mountain Backpack Camp
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Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy 1.5-mile approach. Close to Silicon Valley.
Cons: 
Water is not potable.
Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Camping fee: 
$2.00
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
Not Required
Tent/Walk-in sites: 
4
Group sites: 
1
Picnic Tables: 
Yes
Dogs allowed: 
No

Current Local Weather

Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Rain throughout the day and breezy in the evening.
58°F
53°

Tue

Light rain until afternoon.
58°F
47°

Wed

Partly cloudy until afternoon.
56°F
40°

Thu

Partly cloudy in the morning.
56°F
40°

Fri

Mostly cloudy until evening.
56°F
35°

Sat

Light rain starting in the evening.
54°F
39°

Sun

Light rain throughout the day and breezy in the afternoon.
53°F
45°
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Campground Description

Campground Description

Pro Contributor

Despite the abundance of preserves and parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco, most do not allow overnight stays. Black Mountain Backpack Camp is one of the welcome exceptions. Situated in the charming Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, Black Mountain is just a short drive from Silicon Valley population centers and is the closest, most convenient place for the tech-weary to go for a campout and some fresh air.

Camping on Black Mountain requires a reservation, but the online reservation system is simple to use and the sites are a bargain at $2 per person per night. The camp has sites for individuals and groups, making it great for either a spontaneous getaway or a planned excursion. The preserve does not allow campfires, but stories can be told around an illuminated Nalgene or makeshift lantern just as well. Water is available at the camp, but it is not ready to drink from the pump: either filter it or bring enough for your stay. There are great trails with views of Silicon Valley to the east and wild, open spaces to the west, but be sure to explore them during the day: outside of camp, the preserve closes a half hour after sunset.

Availability is usually excellent during the week, making Black Mountain the perfect place for a mid-week microadventure. Leave work early enough to arrive at the parking lot before dusk, then hustle up the short 1.5-mile hike to the campsite, enjoying nice views of the sun setting over Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Make some dinner, stargaze, get some sleep, then rise with the sun and get back to your desk in time for another day at the grind.

Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(14 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(104 within a 30 mile radius)

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