From traveling high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, my next hike would take me to the rolling Santa Cruz Mountain foothills of Southern Santa Clara County. I traveled to Calero County Park on another bright, breezy spring day. This park is located just south of San Jose’s Almaden Valley. http://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/Ride%20Here/Pages/Calero-County-Park.aspx As is usual with all of the Santa Clara County Parks, the trails in Calero Park are well marked and maintained. The parking lot at the McKean Road entrance had several horse trailers already parked. I had read that this park is a favorite spot for horse riding in San Jose. I was to see several friendly folks on horseback all day. The trailhead begins just across from the main parking lot. After only about 1/3 of a mile, you will hike past Los Cerritos Pond, which is just off of the Los Cerritos trail. The Los Cerritos trail meanders through the hills and small valleys on the west side of Calero Reservoir and travels past the historic Bailey House.
This trail travels through several small valleys…Native Oaks and native grasses with wildflowers are sprinkled throughout. I found myself traveling up a hundred feet and down a hundred feet over rolling hills. As I reached the top of one hill, I ran into some wild turkeys who weren’t too happy to see me! After 2 miles, the trail turns away from Calero Reservoir and begins climbing 200 feet into the foothills. Near the top, I decided to take the Pena Trail which cuts across Calero Park and acts as a connector between the west and east sides of the park. There are several trails on the west side of the park that connect up with Santa Clara County Open Space District’s Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve http://www.openspaceauthority.org/trails/rancho.html I really like how the County Parks and the Open Space Districts cooperate to offer an expansive trail system in the South Bay! As I headed towards the Figueroa Trail while on the Pena Trail…a coyote sprinted across the trail about 50 yards in front of me…somehow, I was able to get a fairly good picture! Horses, Wild Turkeys, and now a Coyote…I began to wonder if this was going to be the day when I saw one of our elusive Mountain Lions! The Pena Trail travels over rolling hills for about a mile where it meets up with the Figueroa Trail. After hiking up on the hill tops for most of the day, the Figueroa Trail travels at the base of a tree covered canyon along side a creek. The shade gave me a nice break from the sun. I saw several oaks, willows along the creek, and wildflowers in the meadows. The Figeuroa Trail is mostly flat for the first mile of it’s 2 1/2 miles. I only saw one other hiker through this canyon. I guess that most of the horse riders and hikers like to stick to the trails along the ridges. After about 1 1/2 miles, the trails starts to climb and emerges from the canyon and takes you back to the rolling green hills and back to the main parking area.
I would rate this 5.7 mile hike as moderate. The trail climbs several hundred feet on wide open trails with no shade for most of the big loop that I hiked on this day. Make sure to bring a hat and plenty of water! Ha, I say this every time! I enjoyed my time on the Calero Park Trails for this, my 11th hike. The trails in this park are quite diverse. You can travel alongside wetlands – that’s where I am in this picture – over rolling hills, and down into tree covered canyons. I was also able to see many birds around Calero Reservoir and several critters along the trail. I didn’t climb to Chisnantuck Peak or Baldy Peak…I will have to save this for another hike as I continue to explore southern Santa Clara County. Trails: Los Cerritos>Pena>Figueroa – one big loop!
That’s 11 hikes and 69.4 miles. 29 hikes and 130.6 miles to go. At this pace, I am going to shatter my 200 mile goal!