As 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.
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.”
The Devil’s Door
…is a giant rock. With a door painted on it.
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?