Hicks Road: Haunted or Hyped?

hicksAs a YA reader in the ‘90’s and In honor of the Goosebumps movie (coming to a theater near you in October!) I wanted to cover a topic that has been the fodder of many a San Jose sleepover story: Hicks Road.

Situated alongside Almaden Quicksilver County Park, Hicks Road has become legendary in San Jose for all the wrong reasons. If you even mention it in driving directions, you’ll get a “oh hayyyllllllll no” response and a request for a different route. Hearing the stories about what makes Hicks Road so dang creepy might turn you as ghostly white as the albinos rumored to inhabit the area. Which leads me to the first piece of Hicks Lore.

The Albinos

There’s said to be a community of albinos (in some versions of the story, Satanic albinos) on Hicks that are rather wary of visitors. They reside in what people have spun as either harmless “small trailer homes” or “creepy huts,” once you turn right at a fork in the road onto a no-through street. While hard evidence of their hostility towards “out-of-streeters” is a bit hard to come by, there are some favorite anecdotes, for instance, this gem:

“He was coming after us in his Jeep…my buddy got a good look and said he was hella’ white.”

…or one brilliant skeptic who simply asserts:

“I personally do not believe in albinos.”

Oh NorCal.

The Devil’s Door

…is a giant rock. With a door painted on it.

The Movie

San Jose, perhaps desperate for a solidly great urban legend, has seen stories of Hicks Road perpetuate through several decades. And its influence has even made it to the silver screen. Several college students produced a short Blair Witch-style movie called—appropriately— Hicks Road in 2009. Here’s the plot summary:

The urban legend of Hicks Road has captured the minds and thoughts of many residents in San Jose, California. And especially the imagination of four college students that grew up hearing the story again and again. These four curiosity seekers attempt to find out what is really going on in the shadows of Hicks Road. But little do they know that what lies ahead will haunt and change them for the rest of their lives…


It may not be The Hills Have Eyes, but it’s something.

The Threatening Motorists in Cars That Are, Like, WAY Faster Than Yours

One of our own Searchlighters had a late-night experience on Hicks that left him convinced that the hype is true. Here’s his version of the story:

It was a dark and stormy night, or at least, 15 years later in my mind it was.  As bored South San Jose teenagers we were sick of roaming the halls of Oakridge, sitting outside of Starbucks, or killing time at the Cardinal Lounge so we decided to go for some real adventure – a trip on Hicks Road.  About five minutes after turning onto the road an old busted up pickup truck raced up behind our car.  The driver flashed his high beams multiple times so we assumed he simply wanted to pass.  We pulled off into the first turn off and the truck slammed on its breaks behind us, high beams still shining bright and the driver opened his door and exited carrying a large object which in our retellings of the story has been everything from a shotgun to a fishing pole. The screams from our vehicle could be heard from Quicksilver park to Old Almaden and we hit the gas and raced off of Hicks as quickly as possible.  Was he albino?  Hard to tell.  Was he Satanic?  I suppose it’s possible.  Was he a poor local who lives off of Hicks and hates having teenagers who are terrible drivers and likely up to nefarious activities roaming around his neighborhood?  Probably yes but on that fateful night he was only one thing; our worst nightmares. 


The Road Itself

As the paved road gives way to dirt, abandoned cars, sketchy messages on cardboard, and people threatening you with shotguns make Hicks, well, potentially “less-than-friendly.” And maybe not where you want to teach your teenager to drive.

If you want to brave the road, just get on Camden from 85 and head for the hills. It might turn out to be no big deal. It might turn out to be the stuff nightmares are made of.

But ultimately, the way I see it, how scary can a road that scales a hill called “Mt. Umunhum” be?

37 thoughts on “Hicks Road: Haunted or Hyped?

  1. I was present in the aforementioned vehicular tale, and I can verify that it is not only a terrifying experience to imagine, but it is one that to this day I assure you is entirely factual. It’s the reason I frequently drive Hicks Road, smoking quiet cigarettes in the shadows of Devil’s Door, waiting for the next group of unsuspecting teens in their parents’ cars to drive by, so I can warn them about the guy in the truck.

  2. I’m 40 now, but when we were teenagers, my friend and I braved Hicks Rd late one Fro or Sat night. We were new to driving, and had seen enough; my friend, however, totally botched a 3 point turn in the road (dumb idea, I know) and the car rolled into a ditch. Soooo… there we were, two teen girls crashed, alone and before iPhones on Hicks. Suuuuper bad plan.

    Fortunately, within about an hour, another group of teens made their way down Hicks (total strangers) but they saw us stranded, took us back to their house and let us use their phone to call our moms. Waited ’till daylight and had to send for a tow truck to get the car. …. the tow truck driver scolded us worse than our parents for being up on that road alone.

      • OK everyone I will end this for all who believe: a friend of mine told me back in the late 70’s her and her buddies would dress up in gowns and powder their faces white and when cars would come around the corners they had a dummy stuffed with straw and they put a motorcycle helmet on the dummy and gloves on the dummy hands and a white t-shirt with catsup squirted in the middle of the white shirt and when cars came around the corners they would act as if they were busy chopping up a victim on the roadside and that is where this myth started-sorry guys!

        • It started long before the 70’s, my brother would tell us about Hick’s horror way back in the mid 60’s. He and his friends would hang out up there.

          • it started in the 1800s actually, with a group of albinos that moved out there to avoid hate from the locals. Over time and inbreeding they have become something else. they are deformed albinos and maybe a cult? I seen them dancing around bonfires. I also had one shoot my friends truck with what looked to be a 22 rifle, my friend shot back with a hand gun and the albino ran off. The real danger out there isnt albinos though, its the meth cooks. I think they are the ones responsible for the dead bodies that show up from time to time. Ever call 911 from hicks? they tell you to meet them at the church at the bottom of the hill. They wont go help you up there or at least they wouldnt in the early 2000’s

  3. My friends and I used to go out there all the time in the mid-90’s-early 2000’s to screw around and get away form the city. Spent a lot of time at the reservoir and the surrounding area (Quiksilver Park is quite fun at night as well, connects to the reservoir) The place was definitely creepy at night. We could regularly hear gunshots in the distance.
    We would sometimes take the Woods Trail on foot or bike going up Mt. Umunhum at night. A truly creepy area that seems completely disconnected from the hustle and bustle of San Jose.

  4. I lived at the top of hicks road and drove( hell I’ve had to walk home multiple times ) back and forth between Los Gatos and home for a year. Nothing, never had a paranormal experience. The albinos have been an urban legend from before 1986 but in my 14 years of living in the Los Gatos area, I have never seen the albinos. You forgot to mention the ghost hitchhiker that is supposed to be out in that area.

  5. Hicks Road is all bark and no bite. To wit: We night ride our mountain bikes there all the time. We go up Mount Umunhum Road, past the gate, past the “NO HIKERS/BIKERS” spray painted on the asphalt, past the top, to the old Air Force radar station (Mount Umunhum), back to Loma Prieta and Cathermola Roads. We even stopped and drank beers from a stash my boy puts up there, near Barlow Road.

    One time the MidPen Peninsula Open Space ranger came up after we got to the top (they DO have security cameras and sensors that really work); we saw the truck on its way up the hill, so we dived into the bushes and hid out until he left–so much fun! We sparked up a doobie after that, to celebrate our cunningness.

    We then rode back to Cathermola Road then went down the Mount Umunhum-Loma Prieta fire road that leads to Barret Canyone, which comes out at Alamitos Road, which is the road that dead ends if you turn right at the bottom of Hicks Road going south. Lots of private property, but we know when to turn our lights off and when and where to walk our bikes (my buddy’s bike has a Chris King hub, which is loud as f**k–like a swarm of bees!).

    We have yet to see any albinos. I went to San Jose High School back in the day and we too heard the myriad stories; however, they were just that–stories–and nothing has ever happened and nothing’s ever been seen to substantiate the rumors.

    Keep on hittin’ that spot, ’cause it’s all rumors. Tall tales to be sure, but still fun nonetheless.

  6. I had heard the rumor of the Satanic and possibly cannibalistic albino camp from kids at school (Pioneer). I think some legends have blood hungry ghosts that people have mistaken for albinos or something. I heard they performed rituals with candles across the dam. Anyway, 5 days after getting my license in 1991, I drove on Hicks Rd and crashed the car near the reservoir as lots of teens have done according my my drivers ed teacher. I was cut and bleeding profusely, so wraiths would’ve smelled me and satanic humans would’ve heard the crash, right? My passenger and I were both out cold. I figure a 15 year old and 16 year old girl who were both injured should be easy pickings for a sacrifice or midnight snack. No albinos came. No ghosts killed us. I did mysteriously end up in the middle of the road about 100 feet from my car, which was down a very steep embankment. I obviously did this myself, but I have no memory of it due to a head injury. Although now that I’ve heard about the ghost hitch hiker, I’m going to start telling people the ghost was a teen who had crashed and died who helped me that night. Anyway, dunno how long I was laying in the road, but we were found about 3 hours after the accident occurred.

    I have no idea exactly how old the legend is, but I first heard of it in 1989 and obviously the other poster says ’86. My niece who is 23 just posted something about it and she went to school in Los Gatos, but had not heard the legend. Maybe it’s an Almaden thing? My Leland friends knew it. Or maybe the 40 somethings are telling their kids about it so they don’t drive on that road at night and wreck their cars. It would be interesting to find the source.

  7. Just last night I went to Hicks road never hearing this legend/myth with a group of 6 friends. I have had maybe just a little too much to drink (the driver obviously didn’t drink but the rest of us did), and I wanted to go adventure. We stopped on the side of the road looking a the view that we found and I wanted to go find a tree to climb. I went off ALONE, and was completely fine. later in the night a boy from the group of friends joined with me and the only scary thing we saw was a mice in the trees, thinking it was a rat but ended up awing because it was so cute. It was a little sketchy because glass was everywhere but i assumed it was just brocken up beer bottles. I probably was walking around in the dark with that guy for a full hour and had a fun ass time. I do have to say though, it is a little creepy if u like creepy stuff like me. But that’s it. We saw no albinos or any signs of it being “haunted”. It is a fun drive and time with friends. I had no problems.

  8. So… just got back from Hicks road. Three friends and I were going to film a short ‘scene’ for an upcoming horror film. The film is inspired by the crazy stories, but none of us believe them—we just think it’ll make for good entertainment. But then, we got spooked. Spooked enough to leave.

    We had found a spot to pull over but kept driving in case we found a better place. After a few minutes, we decided the spot we had passed would work the best, so all three of us (four of us in three cars) turned around. I approached the turn-out and parked, my buddy behind me, our other two buddies were still approaching. I stepped out and my buddy stepped out. I started talking about placement of equipment when I noticed my buddy was just staring across the road. Our other two buddies in the third car started approaching but then kept driving. I looked across the road.

    There was some guy just standing there, staring at us. Dressed all in black and possibly albino? Who knows, it was 10:00 at night and very dark as there’s no lights out there. His face started to glow… because he pulled out a cell phone. We didn’t know if he was lost, confused, or calling for back up to sacrifice us in some satanic ritual. Since he was uncommunicative with us, and was just standing there all creepy like, we decided we should just leave. So, that’s what we did.

    Still don’t believe in ghosts, goblins, monsters, or anything paranormal. But I do believe in crazy people, nut-jobs, and psychopaths. I didn’t want to figure out which one this guy was.

      • There are plentiful first hand accounts of this…

        Including; the watcher in the distance, those eyes.
        Those glowing red eyes, how can i ever forget?

        1980 ish me and my girl at the time (teenagers) decided to go up hicks rd toward the Quicksilver mines and find someplace to park for some

        We were drinking i must admit, i was a self destructive kid.
        Always into something especially if it was fun.
        Cars, weed, and the Rock n Roll lifestyle that this time and area allowed. Lots of partying especially in these areas.
        ( I had the assumption that she would get scared)
        i got out of the car leaving my date in the car just to relieve myself.

        Then out of nowhere i see them…the glowing red-eyes like a deer in the headlights i was standing there mouth wide open with my hand on my well, you understand.

        Frozen i was in fear for my girl so i did what i was taught to do.

        I decided it was better to get the hell out of there thus protecting my girl /myself and live on to fight another day.
        And to tell this tale.

        I am thinking this urban legend my older sister tried to drill into me was true after-all at this point.

        Zipped it up, dropped the beer, got the hell out of there.

        My girl asked me why we were leaving i told her that we were out of beer.
        Never could tell what it was but the older i get the darker and bigger it gets.

        —Happy Halloween .

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  10. I used to drive up there all the time in the mid 80s with my then boyfriend. We would get into all sorts of teenage mischief. I’m glad I never heard of any of the old creepy stories then, I probably would have reconsidered going, although we do remember being chased off once of private property. Ahh the good times

  11. I also heard the stories about Hicks Road when I was a teen in the 70’s. Having to check out, we went once. I did not see any albinos, but did see a strange guy marching on a the side of the road holding a large tree limb in front of him. He was wearing shorts, no shirt, and a headband with leaves (somehow) affixed to the headband. That was freaky enough for me.

  12. I was driving down Mt. Umunhum road late afternoon when i glanced at the quicksilver trail. Under the electricity tower (runs by the trail) I saw 3 persons dressed in all black robes just watching my car. That is the most I have seen for someone who drives Hicks at night about 4 times a month for a couple years.

  13. I was driving down Mt. Umunhum road late afternoon when i glanced at the quicksilver trail. Under the electricity tower (runs by the trail) I saw 3 persons dressed in all black robes just watching my car. That is the most I have seen for someone who drives Hicks at night at least 4 times a month for a couple years.

  14. I’ve spent a lot of time along Hicks Road at night because it’s a great place to see several species of owls. I’ve done research alone there at night and led numerous birdwatching field trips there at night. Yes, I knew the albino stories from when I was a kid …as joke. Now there are all these stories online…and it’s still a joke.

    • An owl scared the crap out of me in Colorado. Was hiking above Seven Falls and the owl was in the tree right above me… he flew away and I almost fell down the mountain. Makes a lot of noise when they launch to flight. Amazing bird, will never forget that experience. Around 1993. Colo Springs.

      GOOD luck with your bird watching.

  15. A group of friends and I, about 10 of us, went up into those hills around midnight in search of the albinos. The moon was just coming over this hill in front of us and we saw one, then a few more, silhouettes of people standing up. Then we saw a bunch of white shapes coming running down the hill towards us. We sprinted back to our cars and got the hell out of there, LMAO!
    True story!

  16. About a year ago I went to hicks with 4 of my friends at about 3am. We turned a corner and this woman came running out of the bushes screaming bloody murder. She had what looked like blood on her dress and she wasn’t wearing any shoes. My friend booked the car in reverse and once we were far enough away, my friend rolled down the window and asked if she needed help. She said she had been on a date and the guy kicked her out of the truck (sketchy) so we offered to call 911. At this point a car comes screeching in behind us and stops sideways so it’s blocking us from backing up anymore and it starts to flash it’s light. I saw at least 2-3 other people pop up from hiding in the bushes and they run over to the car behind us. The woman also runs past us, jumps into the same car, and they sped away crazy fast. We tried to follow but we lost them. It was the scariest moment of my life. Looking back, we think it was a potential car jacking attempt, but it was sure scary.

  17. Anyone been up there recently and seen the old Chevy with the camper type thing going. Solar panels, and everything. Almost as if somebody lives there…

    • Yeah, I’ve met him. He stays all over I guess but likes it out there. Apparently people abandon pets out there and he’s rescued all kinds of animals. Like birds, dog, a pregnant rabbit and idr what else. Seems like a nice guy.

  18. We own the winery along Alamitos rd and have lived here for 10yrs. I’ve not seen albinos but one should be wary of wandering around in the woods on private land. The neighbors here are very protective especially up Hicks, and intolerant of folks up to no good. We’ve had several fires in the area caused by camp fires and cigarettes, and trash, dumping and vandalism continues to be an issue, not to mention the nearly daily occurrence of wanna-be drifters doing donuts at the corner or Hicks and Alamitos, far more dangerous to the casual traveler than any albino..

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  20. Many years ago i didn’t have my cell phone with me. I was droving up +Hicks. Road
    Just past Venture church. At 5 on the evening when what stronglly appeared to be two totally black cougars crossed the road right in front of my car. The had the correct height in that they came up to the hood of my car at the withers had a cat face and padded feet. I was in awe. The only uncougar thing about them was a slight poofi at the end of their long tails.they moved like cats with tails extended. Anybody else see these cats?

  21. If this is the same Hicks Road I drove all the time in San Jose, all I can say is someone sure has a big imagination. For crying out loud, people live on Hicks Road. The Woz lives (or lived, I don’t know if he’s still there) in a house on a road you could only get to by driving Hicks Road.

    I drove that road regularly, night and day. It’s a road, OK? Nothing spooky. Maybe a little dangerous if you’re driving fast. But just a road and absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

  22. Mt. Umunhum and Hicks Road was my ultimate hang out in the 80s (especially 1982-84). Camping many times off Umunhum road and having Friday night beer parties at the Guad dam. Yes, these were some stories floating around. If you are scared of the dark and strange animal sounds, I would avoid the area. Many great memories of Umunhum.

    Cheers all,

    Greg Call, Del Mar High School, class ’84.

  23. im from Massachusetts my gf told me this story and weven been up during the full moon ive been to alot of haunted places to old hospitals thiers def some kind of energy here not sure what it is could also just be the crisp scary tale 🙂

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