Important update: I took these photos in 1986 and in 1995. Others
have sent in photos of this ride. I do not know how much the road had
changed since they were taken until the start of the fires of August
2020. The fires were caused by thunderstorms that blew in from weather
from a tropical storm. I will leave these up permanently as a memorial
to this place.
From 680 or US101, Mt Hamilton Road is about 20 miles per hour through the hills and it is only two lanes wide. Watch for the steep drop offs. After reaching the observatory, the road becomes wider, and is about 30 mph until you reach the San Antonio Valley, where you can do 55 MPH easily, then it climbs into the hills. After crossing into Stanislaus County, it is 22 mph and two lanes wide (wider than 130 up to Mt. Hamilton) to a few miles west of I5, where it becomes 45 - 55 MPH until you reach I5. A trip from I680 to I5 is a little over 3 hours, more or less, with the eastern part of Santa Clara County being the fastest to drive.
From Mt. Hamilton on a clear day, you can see from about Hollister
to San Rafael easily. You can also make out some parts of I5 in the
hills east of here. Most of the land surrounding Mount Hamilton
is owned by UC Santa Cruz, and there is always an officer on duty
there. After the top, you would think it would be slower and
narrower. Not at all. In reality, after passing Mt.
Hamilton, 130 becomes wider and faster. It changes names several
times, to San Antonio Valley Road, and Del Puerto Canyon Rd. It
is about 30 mph and a wider two lanes until you reach the San Antonio
Valley, where it remains 45 mph plus until you enter Stanislaus County,
where it slows down to 22 mph, but even in that section it is wider and
easier to drive than Mt Hamilton Road. Once upon a time, that stretch
of road was one lane wide and gravel. It was paved, widened, and
straightened out greatly in the 1990s. Drive time from Mt. Hamilton to
Interstate 5 is 80 minutes, with most of the time being spent in
Stanislaus County. There used to be a naval bombing range near the
Santa Clara - Stanislaus County line.
Thanks to Mike Ballard I found out 130 is officially a proposed
state highway from Mount Hamilton 33 in Patterson, just east of
Interstate 5. Maybe 130 should be completed as a state highway and
renamed 108, and link up with the 108 corridor in the Central Valley.
130 not surprisingly often gets pelted with snow. Usually it is
closed between Quimby and Interstate 5 when it snows hard. Chain
requirements are rare here, rather than risk accidents they often just
shut the highway down. It has the same lane markers embedded in the
pavement that I have seen on parts of I80 in the Sierras. The day I did
this, I only saw six cars between the observatory and the Stanislaus
County line. I saw maybe ten in Stanislaus County, but mainly between
the Frank Raines Park and I5. 130 in the 1960s was routed up
Quimby Road to Mt. Hamilton Road. This was before 680 was completed.
Also real estate in the San Antonio Valley is expensive. Mt. Stakes had
controlled burns between the fires of 1990 and 2020. Also a part of
this area burned in 2007 near Henry Coe State Park. The SCU complex
fire was out in this area in August 2020.
This is the first glimpse to the east after passing Mt. Hamilton on
Here are some photos of this general area taken from the air.
The first photo shows the area north of 152 by I5. You see part of
the area that burned in 2020. It is the brown area in the photo.
The first four photos are from August 1988. This was a flight on a 767
from Dallas to San Jose.
This photo shows Mount Hamilton in
August 1988. It is to the upper left of center. You are seeing
mountains closer to I580 behind it. You are seeing a lot of the San
Antonio Valley area. A part of this burned in 1990. More burned in
2007. This all burned in August 2020.
This shows Mount Hamilton in August
1988. This is taken above central San Jose. You can see some of the
mountains past that area. This all burned in August 2020.
This photo is from December 1990. This
is really showing Mount Hamilton in the center and there is a snow pack
in this photo. It was super cold at that time. Above Mount Hamilton you
can see an area that had burned that summer. Also this all burned in
August 2020. Higher in the photo you can barely make out the hills by
I5. You can see it is flat in the San Antonio valley behind Mount
Hamilton. Also I think the Sierras showed up a tiny bit in this photo.
This was on a flight from San Jose to San Diego. I never flew down
The next four photos are from April
2000. This was a flight from Chicago to San Jose. Mount Hamilton is
just left of center in this photo. You can see Mount Stakes and
mountains near I5 behind it. The houses below are by San Felipe and
This is showing about the same area. You
can see past Mount Hamilton from here. A lot of the hills closer to the
plane burned and the rest in the distance burned in August 2020.
Mount Isabel is just to the left of
Mount Hamilton. The Yerba Buena neighborhood is showing up in this
This is showing East San Jose and behind
it are the mountains that make the San Jose skyline. The farther
mountains burned in August 2020. You can still see a little of the
mountains past Mount Hamilton here even though the plane is only about
2500 feet up.
|130 East, Page One||130 West, Page One|
|130 East, Page Two||130 West, Page Two|
|130 East, Page Three||130 West, Page Three|
|130 East, Page Four||130 West, Page Four|
|130 East, Page Five||130 West, Page Five|
Proposed 130 East from Mt. Hamilton to Interstate 5 (from
|130 East, Page One|
|130 East, Page Two|
|130 East, Page Three|
|130 East, Page Four|
|130 East, Page Five|
|130 East, Page Six|
|130 East, Page Seven|
|130 East, Page Eight|
|130 East, Page Nine|
|130 East, Page Ten|
|130 East, Page Eleven|
©1998 | Contact info for Eric Buchanan