We went to another of the Santa Clara County Parks today, this time Uvas County Park. One of Jasmine’s labmates was interested in going with, so we had a third party on one of our exploratory hikes for the first time!
First off, it was rather slammed on the drive out there because the park entrance coincides with the Swedish-American Patriot League (Yes, this is a thing.) and they were having their annual midsummer festival. Other than this snafu, the park was rather pleasant. We hiked every inch of trail on the park and only went about 6 miles so it wasn’t a large park. Most of the park centered around a creek and a bunch of waterfalls associated with it. As it has been a couple months since rain and it was still a running creek, it was a very pleasant hike.
Overall verdict is fun little hike, but the kind of short trail means were not going back for a while. Once was fun.
This is what a lot of the trail looked like with Mike on the trail. He’s not as evil as he appears in the picture. :)
I haven’t ever seen this sort of flower before; I dub the the zombielion.
This is one of the smaller waterfalls cascading into a little pool, it was all really pleasant and relaxing up there.
In our apparently never ending quest to go to all of the Santa Clara County Parks, we added one more this weekend: Calero County Park. It is just a little southeast of Almaden County Park, and really much of the same, just not quite as nice and a little further drive away. It has one main draw as far as we can see: it has a small reservoir full of powerboats. Not being a big powerboater myself, I would probably end up skipping this park in the future.
The hike we did was pretty pleasant with the standard rolling grass hills with sparse stands of trees, mostly Scrub Oaks. There was a surprising amount of wildlife on the hike; we saw a bunch of deer, three different sets of Turkeys, a bunch of various birds, and a rattlesnake. Our biggest issue of the day was the weather. It was sunny and in the low 90’s and there wasn’t much shade. And we only brought one liter of water for our 9 mile hike so both of us were happy to get home and get some water.
There were a couple of small duck ponds on the hike with tons of bullfrogs croaking.
This is pretty much what most of the hike looked like.
There are a couple of turkeys in the shade under the tree and a deer in the shade behind the tree. At this part of the hike, I was jealous of the shade.
And here is the reservoir. Hard to tell from the picture, but the lake is about two miles long and had maybe 30 boats circling around it.
For an adventure this week, I decided to skip out of work on Tuesday and go check out the Tour of California bike race. I had meant to go for a couple of previous years, but I finally just buckled down and skipped a day of work and went to the closest stage. It left from Lake Cunningham County Park, through Grant County Park, and to Mt. Diablo – names which you may have seen before on this blog. I decided to get into the mood by biking to watch on the Mt. Hamilton climb, which ended up being a 45 mile bike with a 3500 ft total climb, I was a tired puppy by the end. Jasmine had to work at school so she couldn’t go with me the whole way but she did make it to the start line.
It was a lot of fun and quite impressive to watch both the neverending train of support cars before and after the riders as well as the riders sheer speed. Where I watched was about 30 miles into the race up about 3000 ft from the start and they raced past me at 30 mph chatting about lunch. It was rather impressive. Quite fun, but a little overmuch trouble to watch 30 seconds of racing.
It was such a beautiful day in the hills over San Jose.
It was just straight uphill for me for the first 15 miles of the ride – ughh.
Jasmine’s bicycle was somewhat outclassed. Mine was also outclassed by every one else on the road.
The breakaway coming around the curve.
And the back of the pelaton with the start of the supply train. It probably took you longer to read this than I saw the pelaton.
Two weeks ago we decided to go check out another two of the Santa Clara County Parks: Hellyer and Coyote Creek Parkway. In the whole they were pretty decent parks; we had a very pleasant 14 mile walk up and down the parkway. The Hellyer park was pretty small and more set up for picnics, but the Coyote parkway was pretty nice and while it ran next to Highway 101, it was separated by enough distance or foliage that is was relatively quiet for the walk.
Hellyer Park had another piece de resistance – a bicycle riding track (Velodrome). We didn’t have our bikes with us, but we will be making a repeat trip for a bike riding adventure.
Velodrome! I wish I had my bike with me.
And a whole herd of waterfowl wandering around the lake.
There were a lot of lakes on the path.
I think that these are native California grapes.
My favorites are the poppies :)
In our effort to visit all of the Santa Clara County Parks, we went out to Vasona Lake Park as well as the Los Gatos Creek County Park – so two in one day. I have to say that all of the parks we have gone to so far have been awesome parks with cool views, mostly natural, and good hikes away from roads and other such things. These parks were not that; they were by a major highway that you could always hear, and it was mostly groomed grass with sidewalks, parking lots, and picnic areas. We went up and down a couple of miles on the trails and we were pretty underwhelmed. Nothing actually bad, just not what we are looking for in a park. So I guess there is at least one park in Santa Clara County that we won’t be planning on going to again.
The lake is very blue and also rather small. They rent out paddle boats but as we walked the whole of the lake in 10 minutes, I don’t see the point.
Not really that busy, but the most people we have ever seen at one of the parks.
We did find a cool waterfall off of the lake’s dam to have a little picnic lunch.
The park does have a working miniature railroad running through it??
So Jasmine and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend and continue our effort to go to all of the Santa Clara County Parks; this week was Almaden Park. Apparently it was once the site of quicksilver (mercury) mining and there are a bunch of abandoned buildings associated with the mining still around. In unsurprising news, there are a lot of signs up to not eat any of the fish you catch.
It was a pretty cool park in one respect – the old abandoned mining buildings were pretty cool to look at, but they are in very poor shape. It also was the most busy SC country park we have been to: we probably passed about 50 people in the 3 hours and 8 miles we walked which is nearly triple what we usually see. But other than the buildings, it was about the same as the rest of the parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains: rolling hills, dry grass, and a bunch of gnarly trees. I would say that we would go back again, but not in preference to any of the other local parks.
We did a little bushwacking in the beginning and found a creek. Running water in a drought!
Someone abandoned a car door 1 km up the trail and shot a bunch holes into it. Proof even the bay area has its rednecks.
After the bushwacking, we found the trail. Jasmine is pleased.
An abandoned building at English Camp.
A grove of the largest cacti that I have ever seen.
Hard to see, but there is a mountain lion just past the trail. It is only the second time I have seen a mountain lion in my life and there were two here! Looked like an mom and a kitten, but I wasn’t getting close enough to check.
This burner is the coolest of the equipment. It was used to distill mercury and sulfur out of the rocks. Looks like alchemy to me.
Obligatory overlook view of south San Jose.
So in our continuing effort of visiting all of the Santa Clara County Parks we made it up to Sanborn Park up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was another really nice hike, really hilly and really shaded with some really cool giant redwoods (Most of the redwoods are smallish, maybe 100 ft or so, but some are huge!). We did about 9 miles and 2500 ft elevation on Sanborn Trail/Skyline Trail/ San Andreas Trail. The park, as always, was set up nicely at the entrance with a pretty cool redwood grove / picnic area and a bunch of grassy fields. We made it up to Indian Rock/Castle Rock by the end of the hike which has a bunch of really cool rock features, and appears to be a favorite bouldering spot. It is very shaded and cool which means that we’ll be coming back in the summer when its hot everywhere else.
December in CA is rough.
Panorama of the Entrance Grove.
I <3 trees!
The obligatory top of the hill view.
Nice little stream.
Tree root steps. Looks a bit like an Ent…
Indian Rock (one of them).
I crawled into a cave to escape the light of day.
It looks like a bone almost.
Finally got some time off of testing this weekend so Jasmine and I continued our effort to go to all of the parks and open spaces in Santa Clara County. This week it was the Lexington Reservoir Park which is a little bit out of of the baylands up into the Santa Cruz hills. It is a pretty cool lake, only open to non-motor boats, and it seems to be full of rowers most of the time. The hiking was in nice and pleasant environment, mostly in a scrub forest, but the hills were fairly brutal (2000 ft incline over 4 miles).
Apparently don’t walk you dog in CA in >70 deg F temperatures?
The reservoir looks pretty cool from up the hill.
Hill is steep! Jasmine is still smiling though. :)
It’s a hazy day in the South Bay.
Manzanita trees! One of my favorites.
Mountain Ash (Rowan) berries. You can make jelly from them… If only I could fine some. :)
The locked entrance gate required some jumping over.
One of the things that we have found around the San Francisco Bay area is that some of the best parks to hike around are state and county parks. Joseph D. Grant County Park in Santa Clara is certainly one of these; not only does it host some fine hiking, but its restrooms were sparkling clean and other facilities were immaculate – a sight rarely seen in a park.
It’s very clean!
We went in for a nice long hike and did a circuit of Halls Valley/ Canada de Pala / Foothill / Hotel trail. The hike was very pleasant with rolling hills with nice vistas all around and some cool little lakes. We even saw some wild pigs in one lake. The park was also large enough and had a small enough attendence that it felt like you were secluded and out in nature by your self which was great.
The park is still used as active cattle grazing so beware of cow pats.
I love lakes that reflect mountains.
I also love running across wildflowers on a hike.
That’s one scrubby oak.
Wild Pigs. I didn’t get any good pictures of the piglets but there were three of them.
My map of the hike. Our trail is in red.
A few weekends ago Jasmine and I went hiking on the Bay Trail, and I thought I would share some pictures. But first you ask, “What is the Bay Trail?” Basically, it is a series of not connected trails that go around the San Francisco Bay. We have hiked all of the trail through the city of San Francisco, though most of it was not hiking but rather walking though quasi-abandoned industrial areas in the southeast of the city.
The section that we hiked between the Sunnyvale Baylands park on the south tip of the bay and the Dumbarton bridge was rather pleasant. For the most part, it seemed to be well used by joggers and bicyclists but any section farther than one mile from a parking lot was pretty abandoned. The only sad part was that the trail section we were on ended abruptly just south of the bridge and we had to walk though a construction zone and past a very confused security guard to make it back to the Palo Alto Caltrain station and home safe. Over all, it was a very fun, if tiring 24 mile hike.
Animated GIF of every 5 minutes of the hike looking forward. (You may have to click to animate.)
Squadron of Pelicans
Sunnyvale only partially believes in sidewalks
I had to talk a picture of this sign
There were lots of birds on the hike
Ravenswood Open Space was pretty industrial
The trail goes by a small airport which is cool
NASA Ames is right next to the trail
Most of the hike looked like this
Some of the trail was swampy
And some of it was grassy