For the Lovers of Redwood Trees, Hiking, Horseback Riding and History
Mt. Madonna County Park is sought out for its beautiful hiking trails with a 14-mile trail system that is surrounded in lush green meadows, wild flowers, white reindeer and of course, Redwood and Eucalyptus trees. If you’re planning a bay area road trip, you have to check out these trails near Gilroy. One of the best ways to experience Mount Madonna is by horseback, and lucky for you, Mt. Madonna Stables has a large variety of horses for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders to go on a trail ride through the redwoods and eucalyptus trees. Mt. Madonna is also home to Henry Miller Ruins. Some have even said they’ve seen ghosts walking around the park!
Mt. Madonna Stables
If you’re looking for horseback riding in Gilroy, Mt. Madonna Stables is an incredible facility to visit. Gilroy is home to many equestrians, so if you’re visiting, what better way to see one of Gilroy’s most unique county parks than by experiencing it on horseback! Mt. Madonna Stables is right next to Mt. Madonna County Park, nestled in the redwoods off Summit Road. Michelle and David Mahoney have owned the beautiful ranch for 33 years. When you’re driving through the Mt. Madonna area and up Summit Road, make sure to drive slowly since curious deer and turkeys hang out all around the area!
Upon arrival, Tesi, the Mt. Madonna Stables Manager, will bring you into the office and tack room to fit you with a helmet and sign a safety waiver. The horses are sometimes already tacked up by the girls that have finished their riding lessons before even you’re done in the office. Once you get on your horse, Tesi will have you take a ride around the arena to assess your riding skills and get you read. Once you begin your trail ride, you may run into a few other riders that start at Sprig Lake Trail and then trail ride up through Mt. Madonna.
Horseback riding through Mt. Madonna County Park on horseback is such a unique experience! As you’re riding through the forest, you can easily transport yourself back in time and think about how incredible it must have been in the 1800s on this land. You’ll relate to Henry Miller’s daughter, Sarah Alice Miller, who as a young girl rode through this area that was once her family’s ranch! Tesi can take you through a few different trails in Mt. Madonna to give you the full experience, where you can ride between the thick redwoods, meadows of grass, wildflowers, and to the Henry Miller ruins.
Mt. Madonna Stables has a beautiful facility, knowledgeable and super friendly staff, plus a wide variety of riding options if you’d like to do more than go on a trail ride. They also offer lessons, whether you’d like to ride English or Western style. Call 408-663-1665 to schedule your ride when you visit Gilroy!
Henry Miller Ruins
The Henry Miller house ruins is supposedly haunted by both Henry Miller and his daughter, Sarah Alice Miller. Henry Miller had nicknamed his daughter Gussie, since she loved to “gussie” herself up in frilly dresses. Sarah Alice also loved riding her horse through Mt. Madonna. On June 14th, 1879, when Sarah was just 8 years old, something terrible happened. She was riding her horse, and it tripped when its foreleg hit a gopher hole. Sarah was thrown off the horse, and it toppled onto her. They say this is how Sarah passed away. Others say Sarah fell and simply broke her neck…maybe if you see her ghost, she’ll tell you the full story!
Now let’s talk about the history of the Henry Miller house. Henry Miller was one of Gilroy’s founders. Miller was born in Brackenheim Wurtemberg, Germany, on July 21, 1827. Miller immigrated to New York City in 1846 and arrived in California in 1850. As the story goes, Miller came to California with only $5 in his pocket! However, he eventually became one of the entire country’s richest men while selling beef during the California Gold Rush. Henry Miller was known as the “Cattle King” for owning over 1.25 million acres of land and 1 million head of cattle. During 1875, Miller acquired a summer retreat that had 13,000 acres, now known as Mt. Madonna County Park.
Santa Clara County Parks acquired part of Miller’s land in 1927, and the rest of Henry Miller’s estate with the ruins in 1953.
Mt. Madonna County Park is one of the most unique Bay Area county parks you can find, and offers something for everyone in the family to check out. Whether you love history, animals, hiking, or are just trying to escape the summer heat for a while, be sure to check out Mount Madonna the next time you visit Gilroy!