Top 10 Hiking Trails in San Jose To Take Atleast Once

By Niraj Kakade on Nov 04, 2016
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Some Bay area residents may enjoy the over-congested sociability of hiking trails. But if you're like us you'd enjoy peaceful solitude with some hiking highlights. What better place to do that than San Jose? We bring you the list of best hiking trails in San Jose that will guarantee your good time.

1) Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Image Source: Dawn Ellner/Flickr

There are cross wood bridges and you have to navigate through narrow turns as you venture into a different world. It is mostly undeveloped; the park boast number of beautiful valleys and beautiful views of the city. For more than over 100 years, the place was a big mercury mine, and there are still some of the artifacts hidden away on the property if you’re up for a little adventure. The park cover over 34 miles of hiking trails, including 23 miles of equestrian trails and 9 miles of bike trails. All trails in the park are also open to the pet owners to walk their dogs on the leash. A number of different picnic tables are scattered throughout the huge park adjacent to the trails and horse water troughs are available in some of the locations. No potable water is available in the park except at the Hacienda and the Mockingbird Hill entrances. There are also remnants of mining structures throughout the park. Due to popular demand, all mines have been sealed. However, the San Cristobal mine may be viewed from behind a locked gate. For your safety, please don't try to climb on any structures. Ranger guided nature tours and history walks are also available upon request.

2) Rancho San Antonio County Park

Image Source: Bryce Edwards/Flickr

The beautiful Rancho San Antonio spans over 3,988 acres and has moderately challenging trails that not only wind up to a hilltop meadow with fantastic views of the South Bay but also head downward into a valley where Deer Hollow Farm is located. Although dogs are not allowed in the park, there are designated trails for biking and equestrian use. Model airplane enthusiasts can be regularly seen showing off their skills around the park. While trekking through the valley, be sure to listen in for the goats and roosters from Deer Hollow.

3) Mission Peak Regional Preserve

Image Source: jason jenkins/Flickr  

For anyone looking for a straightforward yet challenging hike, Mission Peak is a great place to check out. There are only a few well-maintained trails that wind up the hillside, so foot-traffic is abundant, but the workout and fantastic views of the Bay are definitely worth it. Although the trails do not have a great amount of shade (sunscreen is a must), the peak is teeming with wildlife from feral goats to hawks and vultures. Pets are welcome too. For the thrill-seekers, the park is also one of the few places around that offers hang-gliding and paragliding.

4) Castle Rock State Park

Image Source: Andrew Kearns/Flickr

For the more experienced enthusiasts, Castle Rock provides gorgeous views of the mountain ranges from Los Gatos all the way to Santa Cruz. That is for those that don’t mind doing a bit of climbing. The 32 miles worth of trails are not always a breeze and can often include mid-path boulder pile-ups and cliff drops, but for the careful, the surroundings are more than worth it. Not only does it have trails, but Castle Rock is also great for serious rock climbers and has intriguingly shaped surfaces both within the forest and on the cliff face.

5) Mt Diablo State Park

Image Source: Kyle Magnuson/Flickr  

Just an hour north of San Jose lies one of the most fantastic views the Bay Area has to offer. Because of the relatively flat surrounding landscape, from the summit of Mt Diablo, one can view the entire Bay and across the Central Valley to the Sierras. The mileage viewable on a clear day is topped only by what can be seen from Mt. Kilimanjaro. Cars can make it all the way to the top, but the beautiful hike is highly suggested, and for those looking for something less rigorous, there's the option to park in one of the lots, part way up and hike the rest.

6) Joseph D. Grant County Park

Image Source: kuchingboy/Flickr

Located in the east foothills of the Santa Clara Valley, Grant County Park is a great place for families and groups big or small to enjoy the outdoors (dogs are welcome too!). 52 miles of trails travel throughout the entire 9,560 acres of open grasslands which are available for hiking, biking, and horseback. It features picnic areas and campgrounds available for reservation which include hot showers and fire pits. Also notable is the warm water fishing that can be found at the lake and several smaller ponds.

7) Shoreline at Mountain View Park

Image Source: Stanislav Sedov/Flickr

It’s hard to believe that this gorgeous man-made lake and nature habitat was once a landfill, but trash has indeed been turned into treasure. The park offers paved bike paths on the very southern edge of the Bay, an 18 hole golf course, and many water sports on the lake including windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding. The Lakeside Café is a great place to grab a bite and the kids will love the playground, not to mention seeing thousands of newly-hatched goslings waddling around in the spring.

8) Portola Redwoods State Park

For those who are in love with the California Redwood, Portola is an exquisite and well-maintained forest park with plenty of trails looping through the mountains. Be sure to ask the park services about which berries and greenery are edible for the time of year you visit. What remains of Iverson Cabin, former home of the first European settler in the area Christian Iverson, can still be seen after it was destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Other attractions include Tiptoe Falls and the giant redwood measuring twelve feet around.

9) Almaden Lake Park

Image Source: Don DeBold/Flickr  

Miles of paved bike paths lead to and from this reservoir, which makes for a pleasant ride or a walk while watching for wildlife. The park provides restrooms, plenty of picnic tables for parties and two playgrounds. On the eastern side of the park, a bocce ball or horseshoe tournament can often be found and the western end includes a volleyball net, pedal boats, and fishing although no pets are allowed on this end to preserve the waterfowl habitat. This the only park in San Jose that boasts a sand beach and a swimming area.

10) Alameda Creek Regional Trail

Image Source: Gene Selkov/Flickr  

The Alameda Creek state Trail runs from Niles Canyon to the San Francisco Bay, allowing for some recreational access to the ridge on both sides of the Alameda Creek and the flood control channel. The trail on each side of the side-creek is roughly around 14 miles long. The south side is also paved and favored by many cyclists, while the north side is still unpaved and open to many equestrian users. Both the sides traverse densely-populated areas and are very heavily used.
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