Walking / Hiking / Biking, San Jose
The new San Jose City Hall was constructed in 2005 to consolidate most city services into a single, impressive location. The ultramodern city hall consists of a water garden and a bamboo garden setting the stage for a huge tower of offices (including the mayor's office on the top floor), a bright glass-domed rotunda, and a separate wing of council chambers and committee meeting rooms. The facilities, including a 300 space underground parking garage, cost 382 million dollars to construct.
While the orchards of Silicon Valley are now gone, it is surprisingly easy to find off the beaten track hiking and walking trails. There are good regional, county and state parks nearby that have some of the best scenery California has to offer. No kidding. There are redwood groves, waterfall trails, high peaks and rolling hills covered with wildflowers in the spring. Summer can get hot, so you might want to focus on the forested Santa Cruz mountains during that season. But in winter and spring the hillsides are beautiful.
Some neary favorites:
Almaden Quicksilver - several trailheads lead to hikes into the hills, covered with native oaks, madrones etc. There are historical markers from the mining ites: www.geocities.com/almadenqs
Mission Peak - Part of the wonderful East Bay Regional Park system, from here there are fab views of the whole area. www.ebparks.org/parks/mission
Uvas Canyon - probably the best place to see waterfalls. www.sccgov.org/portal/site/parks/parksarticle?contentId=c1128a77d9784010VgnVCMP230004adc4a92____
Castle Rock State Park - Just minutes away from the heart of Silicon Valley are miles and miles of wilderness trails. www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=538
Almaden Lake Park is an oasis in the scorched hills of south San Jose. The main attraction is, of course, the lake, which has a sand beach and swimming area. In this dry, sunburnt area, a place to swim and picnic is a hot commodity. We were there on a Monday at about noon-ish and the place was all but deserted, but it apparently is totally mobbed on weekends. You can also fish, rent paddle boats, go for a jog on the 3.9 mile trail, or let the kids attack the jungle gym while you sit in the shade.
The website suggests that you get there early on the weekends to get a parking spot. Parking costs $6 and is charged from April to September. There is a snack bar and a rental concession. You can't swim on Monday or Tuesday (no lifeguards). You can bring your own boat, as long as it's not over 16' or motorized.
Open at 8 am and closes 1 hour after sunset.
The park is on Almaden Expressway about a mile south of Hwy 85.
The Skyline-to-the-Sea trail is a 34 mile hike through the Santa Cruz mountains. It starts in Castle Rock State Park, off HWY 35 and about 2 1/2 miles Southeast of HWY 9, goes through Big Basin State Park, and finally ends at the beach.
It was an absolutely beautiful hike twisting and turning through the redwood trees and the drier chapparel areas of the mountains. At some points I wanted to keel over and die, some times I wanted to quit, but I kept on going-especially when I saw Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin and the ocean peeking out around the bend of the mountain.
Give yourself at least 3 days to do it-unless you're an endurance hiker. Some stetches are up to 10 miles long. There are limited restrooms and showers along the way, except in Big Basin. You'll be by yourself most of the way between the parks, but that's the beauty of it. Crowds are usually in the main park areas and rarely go through the hard uphill trails. It is a great experience overall!
Bring plenty of water, food, tent, plenty of socks, first-aid kit, bug repellant, and a camera.
Be prepared for blisters, bug bites, hot weather, and long stretches of trail before the next campground.
Guaranteed to see hundreds of centuries-old redwoods, animals, beautiful waterfalls, cool streams, and gorgeous vista views.
The Los Gatos Creek Trail is a paved path that twists and turns from Willow Glen all the way to Los Gatos. It follows the creekbed and can be taken all the way to the Lexington Resevoir. It is a great path if you're into running, cycling, or just strolling along for an afternoon walk. There are many accessible entry points and it is very lovely to be on. It also passes through Lake Vasona County Park, where kayaks and paddle boats can be rented during the summer weekends.
Go walk around and see some Palm trees.. We went down to the University and walked around. Here's a pic of my friend Rob in his tie dyed shirt (he's from Saskatchewan, what can I say?)