Mount Madonna ruins are allegedly haunted by both Henry Miller 

Photo courtesy Mattie Walker
The author rides a horse through a meadow at Mount Madonna County Park.


By Mattie Walker

Mattie Walker

There’s a hidden gem in the Santa Cruz mountains just a few miles west of Gilroy that boasts a 14-mile hiking trail surrounded in lush green meadows, wildflowers, white reindeer and if course, redwood and eucalyptus trees.

If you’re looking for local hiking trails, you have to check out Mount Madonna County Park. One of the best ways to experience the park is by horseback, and, lucky for you, Mount 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. Mount Madonna is also home to Henry Miller Ruins. Some visitors have even said they’ve seen ghosts walking around the park.

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. Mount Madonna Stables is in Mount Madonna County Park, nestled in the redwoods off Summit Road on a beautiful ranch that Michelle and David Mahoney have owned for 33 years. When you’re driving through Mount Madonna and up Summit Road, make sure to drive slow since curious deer and turkeys hang out all around the area.

Upon arrival, Tesi, Mount Madonna stables manager, will bring you into her office to fit you with a helmet and sign a safety waiver. The horses are sometimes already tacked up by the girls who have finished their riding lessons. Once you are on the horses and walking around on the trails, you may run into a few other riders that start at Sprig Lake Trail and then trail ride up through Mount Madonna.