Alum Rock ParkCategories:
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.
- Hours: Sunrise to an hour after sunset
- Acreage: 720
- Council District: 5
- Contact Information
- Park Operations & Ranger Staff: 408-259-5477
- Permits & Reservations: 408-794-7275
In December 2019, the South Rim Switchbacks were closed (from No Horse Bridge to the top of Sycamore Switchbacks) due to concerns regarding the integrity of the retaining wall. A-Frame barricades with signage have been posted along with caution tape across trail at the beginning of South Rim Trail (after no-horse Bridge, passed the two benches) and at the junction of Sycamore Switchbacks. Informational signs for the public have been posted on the reader boards about the trail closure. There is no timeframe on when the trail will be open to the public.
During the fire season the use of fires and barbecues may be severely restricted, or the park may be closed to the public due to extreme fire conditions. For any concerns, call the Alum Rock Rangers' Office at 408-259-5477.
Dogs are not allowed. This park is considered a protected wildlife sanctuary.
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 June, July and August. Summer Camp is open to children 5-14 years and includes hiking, exploring creek waters, bird watching and other recreational activities.
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 and have a museum open to the public on the following days:
- Tuesday-Friday at 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
- Saturday 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
The Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (OSA) offers free walks that meet inside Alum Rock Park.
This location both reservable and non-reservable picnic areas. Non-reservable picnic areas are occupied at a first-come, first-serve basis.
Reservation permit holders must arrive at the reservation site on the date reserved prior to 10:00 a.m. and remain at the site with a copy of the approved picnic application. The site will be opened to the public for general use at 10:00 a.m. if the reservation holder is not present. An adult representative from the group must be present at all times.
Visit the picnic areas' individual pages to view its amenities and fees:
- Live Oak
- Mick Brown
- Buckeye Lane
- Big Bear
- Sycamore Grove
- Eagle Rock
- Log Cabin
- Rustic Lands
Free parking is recommended at the Eagle Rock and Rustic Lands parking lots to reduce the impact on the neighborhoods surrounding the park.
Parking fees are collected daily. Each automated machine accepts exact cash (change is not dispensed) and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and Discover Card). Parking space is not guaranteed and re-entry may not be allowed when space is unavailable. Annual passes honored at Alum Rock Park, Lake Cunningham, Almaden Lake, Kelley Park and Happy Hollow Park & Zoo.
For more information on parking, contact Leininger Center at 408-794-7275.
|Regular Parking Pass||$6||$80|
Discounted Parking Pass
Holiday Parking Pass
- Sand volleyball
- Bird watching
- Youth Playground:
- Playgrounds ages 2-5
- Playground ages 5-12
- Restrooms: Yes
- Restrooms are located at the Visitor Center, the Youth Science Institute and adjacent to the Log Cabin and Eagle Rock picnic areas. Restroom facilities are open based on need and picnic reservations.
- Telephones: Yes
- The only public telephone is located at the Visitor Center/Ranger Office. Cellular phones may have poor reception
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. Do not 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, so keep posted on trail statuses online.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not allowed. This park is considered a protected wildlife sanctuary.
- Fire Restrictions: During the fire season the use of fires and barbecues may be severely restricted, or the park may be closed to the public due to extreme fire conditions. For any concerns, call the Alum Rock Rangers' Office at 408-259-5477.
- Vehicle Access: Vehicles are not allowed on service roads or trails. Plan to carry any items you bring to the park, into and out of your area. Under special circumstances Park Rangers can provide vehicle escorts prior to 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m. only. Unescorted vehicles in or around picnic areas are subject to citation.
- Litter is a major problem in the park. A tremendous amount of time is spent cleaning up after park visitors. This time could be better spent helping improve your park. Take a few moments cleaning up your area.
- Day Camp/Camping is permitted with applicable fees. Youth group overnight camping is permitted by reservation in Rustic Lands and Live Oak areas only. Additional fees may apply.
- Photo permits are required for all commercial photo shoots. This includes professional wedding photographers. Permits can be obtained at Leininger Center.
- General Rules:
- Drums or loud radios are prohibited. No amplified sound or musical groups of any type are allowed.
- No pets are allowed. However, ponies are allowed at Log Cabin and Rustic Lands picnic areas.
- Balloons are prohibited at the park.
- Beer and wine are permitted in picnic areas only.
- Special activities or large equipment must be approved by Ranger or Picnic Reservation Staff in advance.
- Air jumpers and dunk tanks are not permitted.
- Party/Costume characters are not allowed to collect money on City property.
- Smoking is not allowed in City of San José Parks.
- All San José Municipal Codes and State laws apply.
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.
Planning & Historic Documents
- Alum Rock Park Gateway & Wayfinding Study (2017)
- Historic Resources Report (2008)
- Development Plan (1929)
- Cultural and Natural History (1972)
- Cultural and Natural History (2000)