Do you know at least two different ways to get away from your home? If a wildland fire comes from one direction, can you get out quickly in some other direction? Knowing a few alternate routes out of your neighborhood - and even off the mountain - could save your life. Hopefully this page will help you learn some alternates.
First, however, note that no page can discuss every neighborhood, or any given specific situation. You'll need to understand the roads in your immediate area and know your alternatives. Examples:
- If you live in Redwood Estates on the west side of 17, you can follow the marked evacuation route (double arrows painted on road) basically downhill, to get to 17, or uphill, to get to Summit Road / 35. Which way you'll need to go depends on the situation. Your route might be cut off in one direction of the other, and you'll have to know enough of the roads in Redwood Estates to know how to escape in either direction. A fire along Summit Road could make escaping that way difficult, so you'd need to go through Redwood Estates and come out at 17.
- If you live at the end of a long driveway, effectively giving you only one way from your home to the first real road, you'll want to keep the trees & brush well trimmed along that driveway, to make escape in a fire easier and safer, and to make it easier for the fire department to find you and your home. Some roads are dead ends as well, providing only one exit for their residents. In that case you can help yourself and your neighbors by keeping your property trimmed and clear along the road. But nothing here helps that first stretch until you have a choice on which way to go. So know your neighborhood and know what the choices mean when you can make them. If a fire is known to be in one direction you want to know - clearly and easily - which way to go to avoid it when you hit that choice in your escape route.
Once you get to the point where you have choices, here are the two main roads you can use and some of the through roads they intersect with.
17 - this will probably be the primary lifeline out of the mountain in a fire
- North from Summit to Los Gatos
- South from Summit to Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz
Summit / 35 / Skyline
- North/West from 17, up the peninsula, intersecting: Mountain Charlie, Hutchinson, Zayante Bear Creek, Black, 9, and Page Mill
- East from 17, intersecting: Mountain Charlie, Old Santa Cruz Highway, Soquel San Jose, and Highland
If we think of 17 and Summit as intersecting at right angles, we can sort of divide the mountain into 4 quadrants. Below are brief descriptions of those 4 areas, each with a link to a google map showing the named roads.
- North West - including the neighborhoods of Redwood Estates, Lake Canyon, and parts of and South Skyline Lexington Hills. Possible escape roads in that area are 35/Summit, Black Rd, Gist Rd, Bear Creek from Summit to 17, and 9 from Summit to Satatoga. Note that parts of 35 near 17 are narrow and very winding, as are Gist and Black Roads.
- North East - including the neighborhoods of Chemeketa Park, Aldercroft Heights, and parts of Lexington Hills and Redwood Estates. Useful roads here are 17, Old Santa Cruz Highway, and Summit. Note that several roads go from Old Santa Cruz Highway to 17: Mountain Charlie (which meets Summit just east of the 17/Summit overpass), Holy City Rd (with underpass at 17), Idlewild (access only to 17 North), and Hebard (access to 17 in both directions, but no overpass). Old Santa Cruz Highway meets Bear Creek at an overpass near Lexington Reservoir, giving access to both directions of 17 safely. One additional road to know about in this quadrant is Alma Bridge Road. It goes around the backside of Lexington Reservoir, joining Aldercroft Heights Rd, and from there to Old Santa Cruz Highway. It can get you around blockages on 17 Northbound between Bear Creek and Alma Bridge, but it's a long, slow, winding trip.
- South West - including the neighborhoods of Las Cumbres, Glenwood, and parts of South Skyline. Possibly useful roads here include 17, Summit/35, Bear Creek west/south to Boulder Creek, 9 south to Boulder Creek, Zayante, Hutchinson, Mountain Charlie, and Glenwood. But note that many of those are smaller, winding roads, making for slow travel times. Still, in a pinch they can get you out of the way of a fire.
- South East - including the neighborhoods of Villa Del Monte, Summit Woods, Skyland, The Willows, and the southernmost part of Lexington Hills. Possible escape roads here include Summit, Old Santa Cruz Highway, Soquel San Jose, and Highland.
As a resident of the area, you should spend some time with a map and examine your ways in and out. Which roads should you take to get out quickly and safely in the event of a fire is something you should know. Taking the time to drive them once or twice to familiarize yourself with them and the intersections you might encounter is a good thing to do. And knowing some of the even smaller roads - not listed here - that might be important in a pinch is good too. As an example, if you live on Stetson, you can get out by going west to Soquel San Jose, or east to Skyland, and then taking Skyland back up the hill and over the top to Summit, or taking Miller Hill/Miller CutOff to Soquel San Jose. If you live on Stetson and don't know what those routes mean, it would be time well spent to figure them out.
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