12 Must-Trek Silicon Valley Hiking Trails

Summer is in full swing which means getting outside and enjoying the beautiful Silicon Valley scenery! Luckily for us in the Bay Area, we get to enjoy being outdoors year-round, and there are so many options for doing just that. Whether you are wanting an easy walk, looking for beautiful views, or seeking a challenge, there’s a hike for that. See our picks below for just a small sampling of what Silicon Valley and the surrounding area has to offer.

1. Coyote Creek Parkway- San Jose

Located in Hellyer County Park, this path wanders along Coyote Creek and is used for walking, running, biking, and even rollerblading. This out-and-back trail is almost entirely flat and the northern portion is paved, making it a great option for all ages and skill levels. The southern part of this trail is available for equestrian use and Coyote Creek parkway can be accessed by public transportation, an uncommon feature for most trails. Hellyer County Park is located roughly 10 miles south of San Jose, off of Highway 101.

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2. Los Gatos Creek Trail- Los Gatos

This mostly paved trail spans 11.2 miles with about 1.2 miles in San Jose and 9.3 miles in Campbell and is used by hikers, runners, and cyclists. Los Gatos Creek Trail passes through a string of parks including Los Gatos Creek Park, Campbell Park and Oak Meadow Park, and can be accessed at many points along its length as well as through any of these parks. Ease of accessibility makes this a great trail for everyone and offers a perfect option for the whole family to get outdoors.

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3. Castle Rock Trail- Saratoga

This 5.5 mile loop which includes the Saratoga Gap Trail and Ridge Trail is a very popular destination for beautiful views, forest hiking and even features a waterfall. Castle Rock trail has many sandstone rock formations known as tafoni or “swiss-cheese rock”, the most notable being the formation that gives the trail and Castle Rock State Park their names. Located about 10 miles southwest of Saratoga on Skyline Boulevard, Castle Rock State Park and the trailhead can be accessed by taking CA-9S to Skyline Boulevard. Since this location is so popular, it’s recommended to arrive early, carpool or hike on a weekday to avoid the crowds and ensure there’s available parking.

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4. Stephen E. Abbors Trail- Cupertino

This 8.3 mile loop near Cupertino offers a variety of scenery, from lush forests and streams to grassland and wildflowers. Multiple other trails connect to the Stephen Abbors trail, including Coyote Loop and Rogue Valley Trail so this hike can be adjusted to your desired level of challenge. The trailhead is located on the eastern end of the Rancho San Antonio Preserve, about 4 miles west of Cupertino via Stevens Creek Boulevard to Foothill Boulevard. Bring the kids to visit historical Deer Hollow Farm located near the trailhead!

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5. Stanford Dish Loop-Stanford

This paved loop near Stanford is one of the most popular easily accessible trails for walkers and runners in the area. Visitors to this trail will get a beautiful 3.8 mile trip through grasslands and wildflowers and be able to spot the large radio telescope after which the trail is named. On clear days, enjoy views of San Francisco, Oakland and the East Bay. There’s very little shade on this path so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and water for warm, sunny days. Most visitors access the path via the Stanford Avenue gate at the intersection of Stanford Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard.

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6. Mission Peak- Fremont

For hikers looking for a bit of a challenge, Mission Peak in Fremont is not to be missed. 2000 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles make this hike challenging but still very doable and worth it! At the top of Mission Peak itself, enjoy stunning views of the valley and get a photo with the “Mission Peeker” sculpture. It is generally recommended to park at Ohlone College rather than the Stanford Avenue staging area which fills up very early.

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7. Skyline-to-Sea Trail- Saratoga

This point-to-point trail starting near Saratoga boasts 25.2 miles and includes two major attractions: Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Hikers can choose to do sections of the trail or complete it all as a three-day backpacking trip, making this trail a great choose-your-own-adventure hike. Most hikers access the trail from Castle Rock State Park. As with all forest hikes, it’s recommended to bring bug spray, wear pants, and keep a weather eye open for poison ivy.

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8. Crystal Springs- Redwood City

Crystal Springs trail is just one of the many trails in Huddart Park near Redwood City and Woodside. This trail meanders through beautiful forest and is perfect for hiking or trail-running but bikes are not permitted. Hike the Crystal Springs trail as an out-and-back or combine it with Dean trail to create a very popular loop. Huddart County Park is accessible via Junipero Serra Highway, about 10 miles west of Palo Alto.

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9. Baylands Trail- Palo Alto

The Baylands Trail is a 5 mile out-and-back trail located near Palo Alto and Mountain View, and features views of the Bay and great bird-watching. The trail is hard-pack gravel and almost entirely flat which makes it an excellent choice for walking and running. There is no shade along this trail so make sure to bring extra sun protection. The Baylands Trail is accessible via the 101, about 10 miles east of Palo Alto

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10. Hamm’s Gulch- Portola Valley

Located just 3 miles south of Portola Valley, Windy Hill Preserve has several beautiful trails including Hamm’s Gulch Trail and Ridge Trail loop which clock in at 6.8 miles and about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. This dog-friendly trail features wildflowers during spring and early summer. Windy Hill Preserve is most easily accessed via Portola Road.

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11. John Brooks Trail- Belmont

Water Dog Lake Open Space is home to several trails just west of Belmont and San Carlos. The preserve is named after the waterdog, a type of Salamander, and features a variety of trails including some that are fairly steep. Enjoy views of the surrounding area as well as sections of trail shaded by scrub oak. To access this park, take Ralston Avenue west from Belmont, turn south onto Hallmark Drive and then north on Wakefield Drive.

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12. Sawyer Camp Trail- San Mateo

Located about 4 miles southwest of San Mateo, the Sawyer Camp Trail is 11.3 miles of paved trail perfect for an easy walk, bike or run and is stroller and wheelchair friendly. This trail features beautiful views of Crystal Springs Reservoir as it follows the shoreline and is partially shaded. From San Mateo, take Crystal Springs Road southwest towards the reservoir.

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There's always something to do at Mountain View's Shoreline Park

 

Mountain View residents are rarely at a loss for things to do and get involved in. This city of approximately 74,000 situated in the heart of Silicon Valley is perfectly suited for a busy life with plenty of exciting activities within a short drive in any direction. One of the shortest drives is to the city’s own Shoreline Park.Officially dedicated in 1983, the site was purchased by the City of Mountain View in 1968 with the goal of building a recreational facility, which would have required building up the land 20 feet to avoid flooding. The cost was deemed too high, so in order to solve the problem while getting some return on investment, the site was turned into a landfill, accepting garbage from San Francisco.

Watersports and more

The park’s centerpiece is Shoreline Lake, a 50-acre artificial lake, on whose eastern shore lies the Shoreline Aquatic Center. Here both children and adults can enjoy water-themed activities of all kinds including:

• Three levels of sailing lessons with a 14-foot Capri dinghy • A racing club • Three levels of windsurfing classes • Two levels of kayaking classes • Paddleboarding and paddleboarding yoga • Summer camps featuring kayaking, windsurfing, paddleboarding, sailing and more • Equipment and vessel rentals

Traipse through nature

For those who prefer movement on land, there are miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, with some being part of the popular San Francisco Bay Trail. These are ideal for cyclists, runners and walkers. The trails connect with Stevens Creek on the east side of the park and the Baylands Nature Preserve of Palo Alto on the west side.

Fore!

Golfers can spend a relaxing day navigating an 18-hole links-style golf course, practicing on a driving range and checking out what’s new in the pro shop.

Lots of music

Great times are always in store at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, an outdoor events venue with seating for 29,000 and an additional capacity of 16,000 on the lawn. Acts and festivals that have graced the stage include The Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, All That! Music and More Festival, Crue Fest 2, Lilith Fair, Lollapalooza, Ozzfest and Rock the Bells.

Breakfast and lunch is served

Regardless of how active or inactive you are at the park, when you get hungry, there’s the perfect destination: The Shoreline Café. It’s open weekdays for breakfast and lunch and weekends for brunch. An eclectic menu will satisfy just about any taste. Also available are specially made picnic baskets with chocolate strawberries, fresh fruit, cheese, Italian panini, wine and champagne.

Learn more at the Shoreline Aquatic Center and Café website.

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10 tips on getting the most out of Silicon Valley dog parks

For many people, life just wouldn’t be complete without a loyal dog as part of the family.  And for most dogs, two very important things contribute to a complete life: socialization with other dogs, and exercise.  Look no further than your local Silicon Valley dog park to supply both of these.While each of the many dog parks in Silicon Valley has its own layout and amenities, the goal is always the same: provide a safe area where dogs can hang out with their peers and get all the exercise they crave.  It works well, as long as dog owners abide by the park’s rules.  Here are a few guidelines from Mary Avenue Dog Park in Cupertino that are smart practices, regardless of which park you and your dog visit.  (See the unabridged guidelines list here.)

  1. If it’s your dog’s first visit to a dog park, it might be wise to go when the park is generally less crowded.
  2. When you take your dog into the unleashed area, make sure he’s unleashed.  It’s common for leashed dogs to feel threatened (and react accordingly) when around dogs not wearing leashes.
  3. Be considerate of fellow humans, just as you expect dogs to be of one another.
  4. It is the owners’ responsibility to remove their dogs from the fenced area if they become aggressive.  These dogs should not return until they have been appropriately socialized.
  5. Bags and poop scoops are provided for guests.  Use them.
  6. Keep your dog leashed until he is in the fenced area, even if he’s under excellent voice control.  Unleashed dogs can scare some people, plus the City Code mandates that dogs in public must be on leashes.  (This is the Cupertino City Code and is likely the same in all Silicon Valley communities.)
  7. In order to use the facility, dogs must have their rabies tags and licenses on their collars.  An ID tag is recommended as well.
  8. For your dog’s safety, remove choke collars and prong collars before turning them loose to play.  These kinds of collars can get caught on something while running and cause injury.
  9. The dog park or (in this case) the City of Cupertino is not liable for any injuries to people or animals.  Each owner must monitor his or her dog’s behavior and act quickly if the animal shows signs of aggression.

And we’ll add #10: Never try to break up a dog fight, especially when one or both of the combatants is of a large, aggressive breed.  Attempting to stop a fight can result in very serious injury to the person intervening.

If you think there’s a possibility that your dog might become aggressive, take with you to the park a small spray bottle filled with half water, half vinegar.  Spray the mixture into the mouth/nose areas of the fighting dogs.  Often this will cause them to break long enough for their owners to take charge.  If aggression is a serious problem, work with a professional trainer before visiting a dog park.

Both you and your dog can make friends at Silicon Valley dog parks

Dog parks are designed to be a fun experience for both dogs and their owners.  Over time, dogs make friends with other dogs they see regularly and look forward with typical dog excitement to their weekly (or daily!) visits.  Dog owners will likely make a few friends, too.

When the rules are followed and a zero-tolerance aggression policy is in place, dog parks are the ideal place for dogs to run off all their excess energy and get used to being around other dogs in a safe and social environment.

To find a dog park near your home in Silicon Valley, check out a comprehensive list and map on DogGoes.com.

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