California State Route 9

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State Route 9

SR 9 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length38.497 mi[1] (61.955 km)
California Scenic State.svg Saratoga–Los Gatos Road[3]
Major junctions
South end SR 1 in Santa Cruz
Major intersections
North end SR 17 / CR G10 in Los Gatos
CountryUnited States
CountiesSanta Cruz, San Mateo,[4] Santa Clara
Highway system
I-8 I-10
California State Route 9

State Route 9 (SR 9) is a rural and mountainous state highway in the U.S. state of California that travels 35 miles (56 km) from SR 1 in Santa Cruz to SR 17 in Los Gatos, passing through the San Lorenzo Valley and the Saratoga Gap in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Route description

SR 9 begins in the city of Santa Cruz where River Street intersects with SR 1. It heads north, paralleling the San Lorenzo River.[5] The road is a winding two-lane road for the majority of its length until it approaches Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga. SR 9 winds through the mountains north of Santa Cruz, passing through the communities of Paradise Park, Felton, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, and Boulder Creek, where State Route 236 departs from SR 9 to provide access to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. SR 236 later rejoins SR 9 near Castle Rock State Park.

At the summit of the Santa Cruz mountains (the junction with SR 35 and after a steep climb), there is a vista point offering a (somewhat obstructed) view of the Bay Area. The vista point is the route's highest point at around 2,608 feet (795 m).[6] At this junction, SR 9 passes into Santa Clara County.[5]

SR 9 descends from the mountains heading east into Saratoga as Congress Springs Road.[5] In Saratoga, SR 9 turns southeast and becomes Saratoga-Los Gatos Road.[5] At Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga, SR 9 briefly becomes a four-lane highway with a large center divider. However, as the road enters Monte Sereno, it again becomes a two-lane road. This particular narrowing has caused backups in the past; however, they have become more infrequent since the completion of SR 85. SR 9 resumes being a four-lane road through downtown Los Gatos until its terminus at the junction with SR 17 (a distance of about four city blocks).


Over the years, SR 9 has been popular among car enthusiasts from all over Northern California and beyond looking to test their skills on the scenic winding highway. The experience of driving the road's challenging curves has led to the local term "9burgring", named after the Nürburgring racetrack in Nürburg, Germany.

The highway is particularly popular for recreational motorcycling. In summer months the short section between SR 35, Skyline Boulevard and SR 236, Big Basin Road becomes a popular destination for a variety of motorcycle types, and impromptu gatherings of riders in the parking lot at intersection of SR 35 and SR 9.

SR 9 is also popular with bicyclists. The seven-mile (11 km) section from Saratoga Village to the Saratoga Gap is notable for the number of bicycles climbing the hill on weekend mornings. Since 1978, the highway between downtown Saratoga and downtown Los Gatos is the route for the popular "Great Race," when over 1,000 participants run between the two towns near the end of April.[7]


A small portion of SR 9 towards the northern terminus is part of the National Highway System,[8] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[9] SR 9 is eligible to be included in the State Scenic Highway System,[10] and, between the Los Gatos town limit and the intersection with SR 35, is officially a scenic highway,[11] meaning that it is a substantial section of highway passing through a "memorable landscape" with no "visual intrusions", where the potential designation has gained popular favor with the community.[12]


SR 9 was created from several previously constructed roads. One of these was a toll road built in 1848 by Martin McCarty.

In 1913, the road from Saratoga Gap southwest to Big Basin Redwoods State Park via the present SR 9 and SR 236 was added to the state highway system;[13] it became Route 42 (an unsigned designation) in 1917.[14] Although this highway connected to Route 44, the remainder of present SR 236, the only connection to the continuous state highway system was with the Skyline Boulevard (Route 55, now SR 35) at Saratoga Gap. This changed in 1933, when Route 42 was extended east from the gap to Route 5 (SR 17) in Los Gatos, and a new Route 116 was created, running south from Route 42 at Waterman Gap (about halfway between Saratoga Gap and the park) to Santa Cruz, intersecting the end of Route 44 at Boulder Creek.[15][16]

Sign Route 9 was marked in 1934; however, it did not entirely follow the present SR 9. Initially it connected Santa Cruz with Milpitas, following Routes 116 and 42 to Saratoga, Route 114 (Saratoga Sunnyvale Road and Mathilda Avenue) north through Sunnyvale, and Route 113 (SR 237) east to Route 5 (Main Street, then U.S. Route 101E and Sign Route 13) in Milpitas.[17] When the San Jose-Oakland US 101E designation was dropped in the mid-1930s, Route 5 between Mission San Jose (where the new SR 21 turned northeast) and Hayward did not retain a signed designation.[18] Later SR 9 was extended north along SR 17 (which had replaced SR 13) from Milpitas to Warm Springs, SR 21 to Mission San Jose, and the independent section of former US 101E—all part of Route 5—to US 50 (also Route 5, which included a branch to Oakland) near Hayward.[19] Except for a short realignment in the mid-1950s onto Route 69 (now I-880 and SR 262) between Milpitas and Warm Springs,[20] this alignment remained until the 1964 renumbering.[21]

In 1964, SR 9 was moved to its present alignment, taking over the previously unsigned Route 42 from Saratoga to Los Gatos. The route that had been signed as SR 9 became SR 85 through Sunnyvale, SR 237 to Milpitas (including previously unsigned extensions of Route 113 at each end), part of SR 17 through Warm Springs, SR 262 through Warm Springs, part of I-680 to Mission San Jose, and SR 238 from Mission San Jose to Hayward (SR 21 was already renumbered I-680 by then).[22] SR 85's original designation was deleted in 1994 and has since moved to a freeway and SR 17 in Warm Springs was renumbered I-880 a decade prior. However, the SR 237 freeway was built in the same location, and both SR 238 and most of SR 262 remain as surface roads.

Major intersections

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers to an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see California postmile § Official postmile definitions).[1] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

Santa Cruz
SCR 0.46-27.09
Santa Cruz0.05River StreetContinuation beyond SR 1
0.05 SR 1 – Half Moon Bay, WatsonvilleSouth end of SR 9
Felton6.46Graham Hill Road, Felton Empire Road – Mount Hermon, Los Gatos, Bonny Doon
Boulder Creek13.04
SR 236 north (Big Basin Way) – Big Basin
Waterman Gap20.83
SR 236 south – Big Basin
Saratoga Gap27.09 SR 35 (Skyline Boulevard) – San Francisco
Santa Clara
SCL 0.00-11.45
Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, Saratoga Avenue to SR 85
Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road is former SR 85 north
Los Gatos11.06Santa Cruz AvenueFormer SR 17
11.45 SR 17 – San Jose, Santa CruzInterchange; north end of SR 9; SR 17 exits 20A-B
11.45 CR G10 (Los Gatos-Saratoga Road)Continuation beyond SR 17
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ "California Highways: State Route 9". Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  3. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Postmile Services (37.249172 -122.157190). California Department of Transportation
  5. ^ a b c d California Road Atlas and Driver's Guide (Map). Thomas Brothers. 2000. p. 169, P, N.
  6. ^ USGS benchmark, quad located at
  7. ^ "Rotary Club of Los Gatos Great Race | Rotary Club of Los Gatos".
  8. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: Santa Cruz, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
    Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: San Jose, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  9. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  10. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  11. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  12. ^ California Department of Transportation (2012). Scenic Highway Guidelines (PDF). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 5, 2024. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  13. ^ California State Assembly. An act to provide for the survey and construction of a state highway from Saratoga Gap, on the line between the counties of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz, to, into and within California Redwood Park in Santa Cruz county, and making an appropriation therefor. Fortieth Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 398, p. 855.
  14. ^ Ben Blow, California Highways: A Descriptive Record of Road Development by the State and by Such Counties as Have Paved Highways, 1920 ( or Internet Archive), p. 114
  15. ^ California State Assembly. An act to amend sections 2, 3 and 5 and to add two sections to be numbered 6 and 7 to an act entitled 'An act to provide for the acquisition of rights of way for and the construction, maintenance... Fiftieth Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 767, p. 2037.: "State Highway Route 55 near Saratoga Gap to State Highway Route 5 near Los Gatos." "Santa Cruz to State Highway Route 42 near Waterman Gap."
  16. ^ California State Assembly. An act to establish a Streets and Highways Code, thereby consolidating and revising the law relating to public ways and all appurtenances thereto, and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts specified herein. Fifty-first Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 29, pp. 278, 283.: "Route 42 is from Route 5 near Los Gatos to Governor's Camp in California Redwood Park via Saratoga Gap and along the ridge between the San Lorenzo and Pescadero creeks." "Route 116 is from Santa Cruz to Route 42 near Waterman Gap."
  17. ^ Dennis, T.H. (August 1934). "State Routes Will Be Numbered and Marked with Distinctive Bear Signs". California Highways and Public Works. 11 (8): 20–21, 32. ISSN 0008-1159 – via
  18. ^ H.M. Gousha Company, San Francisco and Vicinity Archived 2008-06-25 at the Wayback Machine, 1941
  19. ^ H.M. Gousha Company, San Francisco Street and Vicinity Maps, Standard Oil Company of California, 1953
  20. ^ H.M. Gousha Company, Enlarged Map of the San Francisco District Archived 2007-12-31 at the Wayback Machine, 1955
  21. ^ Department of Public Works, San Francisco Bay Area, 1963
  22. ^ California State Assembly. An act to add Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) to Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, and to repeal Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, the... 1963 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 385, pp. 1172, 1178, 1187.
  23. ^ California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  24. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006

External links