15350 Penitencia Creek Rd. San Jose, CA 95127
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Alum Rock Park
Alum Rock Park was founded in 1872 and is one of California’s oldest municipal parks. Nestled within the Alum Rock Canyon in the foothills of the Diablo Range, the Park's 720 acres of natural, rugged beauty, provide visitors with many leisure outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, family and group picnicking, and of course just relaxing. Picnic tables, barbecue pits, water and restrooms are available in most picnic areas, with lawns and a children's playground in the mid-canyon area.
From 1890 to 1932 the park was a nationally known health spa with 27 mineral springs, an indoor swimming pool, tea garden, restaurant, and dance pavilion. At the time you could ride from downtown San Jose to the park on the Alum Rock Steam Railroad, a ride that cost a quarter. Today, remnants of the railroad bridges can be seen, some of the stone grottos that contain mineral springs are still accessible, but now the charms of the park focus on nature, wildlife, and hiking.
There are approximately 13 miles of trails including six miles of horse trails and three miles of bicycle trails. Hikers are welcome on all trails, while equestrian and cyclists are required to use designated trails only. Please observe trail usage signs; don’t endanger yourself and others by using inappropriate trails.
Alum Rock Park trails are the portal to Santa Clara County Open Space Authority Trails. Occasionally OSA trails are closed due to poor weather conditions, please visit http://www.openspaceauthority.org/ for trail status.
Reservable picnic areas can accommodate groups up to 300. Each area includes tables, barbecue grills, and nearby restrooms. Some of the more secluded sites require a short walk from the parking lot since vehicles are not allowed into the area. You may make on line reservations, but please call 408-794-7275 if you have questions about your chosen site.
Activities / Camps / Classes
Alum Rock Park staff offer a variety of educational programs for school children and other groups, and hosts a Summer Camp during the months of July. Summer Camp is open to children 5-14 years and includes hiking, exploring creek waters, bird watching and other recreational activities. On Friday the camp visits Emma Prusch Farm for a barbeque picnic.
The Youth Science Institute is a non-profit Science and Nature Center that has been open to the public since 1953. They offer school activities, a summer camp, and have a museum open to the public Tuesday-Friday 12:00pm-4:00pm and on Saturday 12:00pm-4:30pm.
Please visit http://www.ysi-ca.org/ for details on their programs.
The Santa Clara County Open Space Authority offers free walks that meet inside Alum Rock Park. Please visit their website for information http://www.openspaceauthority.org/ .
The unique east-west canyon and its steep sides contain many delicate plant and animal communities. Soils on the north canyon slopes are held in place by a variety of grasses, poison oak, holly leaf-cherry, sagebrush, and scattered live oak trees. Quiet, observant hikers can see black-tailed deer, brush rabbits and quail. Red tailed hawks and turkey vultures can frequently be seen riding the air currents over-head.
The opposite or south side of the canyon offers a totally different natural community. Trees such as the California black oak, bay, madrone, and California buckeye are abundant, while smaller shrubs like the toyon, wild rose, and wild blackberries are found in more sunny areas. The chattering of gray squirrels and Steller's jays are common sounds. On rare occasions, a hiker might see - only for an instant - the elusive bobcat as it disappears into the dense brush.
Penitencia Creek is lined with big-leaf maple white alder, and western sycamore. Wild honey-suckle vines, the arroyo and red willow add to its lush plant life.
Spring provides the park with color from a variety of wild flowers including the California poppy and sticky monkey flower. Ferns are prevalent during the winter and spring months. Alum Rock Park must be seen during all its seasons to be truly appreciated.