San José offers a wide variety of trail experiences. Here's two recommendations for travelers seeking to experience the City's urban character, and others seeking a more rural hiking trail experience.
1. Urban Trail Experience - Discover San José Along the Guadalupe River Trail
Explore the city along a 9 mile trail linking downtown to the San Francisco Bay.
The Guadalupe River has played an important role in the development of California’s oldest city over the past 230 years. Before Spanish explorers reached the Santa Clara Valley, the Ohlone / Muwekma people inhabited the banks of the river for thousands of years. Trails have been an integral part of the city since its earliest days.
On March 30, 1776, The Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition camped along the Guadalupe River near today's River Oaks Parkway and bridge. Captain Anza's diary entry that night reads: "...We came to a large arroyo or fair-sized river, where with difficulty we found a ford. Having crossed it, at four o'clock we halted for the night on its banks, partly because it had been raining and partly because it was threatening to rain harder...To this arroyo or river we gave the name of Guadalupe. It has abundant and good timber of cottonwood, ash, willow, and other kinds. In all directions there is a great abundance of firewood, and likewise agricultural lands for raising crops ... In the place where we are camped there are three good-sized villages, each about as large as the last one mentioned, composed of people like the foregoing, and by whom, according to the paths and trails, the region upstream appears to be populated."
In 1777, San José became the first civil settlement (not associated with a mission or a military post) in the Spanish colony of Nueva California. In 1850, California secured statehood and San José was its first capitol. The seasonal flooding of the river and mild climate made the valley one of the greatest agricultural regions in the world and earned it the nickname, Valley of Heart’s Delights. In the 1950’s the valley began to rapidly transition from agricultural center to high technology capitol. Today, many of the world’s largest and best-known technology companies are headquartered along the banks of the river.
Maps & Itineraries
Explore numerous sites along and near the Guadalupe River Trail - Click Here for a Tourism Map of the Guadalupe River Trail System.
For downtown hotel guests, view an informational brochure on the nearby Guadalupe River, Coyote Creek and Los Gatos Creek Trail systems. Also, this interactive map features downtown retail, and how to get around via trails and transit.
Great feature article on travel to San Jose in Southwest Airlines' August 2015 issue of Southwest The Magazine.
Visit "Lupe" the Mammoth - San Jose's newest piece of public art, just four miles from Downtown San Jose along the fully-paved Guadalupe River Trail! Lupe is 9-1/2 tons, stands 12-1/2' tall, and recalls the discovery of a Columbian Mammoth fossil along the nearby river bed. Use #LupeTheMammoth to share your pictures on Twitter and Instagram.
Lupe gets recognized:
- AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) - 2016 Cool List
- AGA (American Galvanizers Association) - 2016 Artistic Award
How do I find Lupe the Mammoth?
There is no public parking near Lupe the Mammoth, so here are some options:
- Walk or Bike to Lupe: Follow the Guadalupe River Trail northward from downtown to the Bay. Travel beneath the Trimble Road Bridge (watch for name sign on the bridge). As you reach the top of bank, make a U-turn back to the roadway. Lupe is easily visible. If travelling in the opposite direction, Lupe is easily visible as you approach the Trimble Road Bridge.
- Take Transit to Lupe: Take a Light Rail Train to the Bonaventura Station. As you leave the station, walk or bike to the south to Trimble Road. Travel about 3/4 mile to the west. You'll see Lupe as you reach the Trimble Road entrance to the trail.
- Drive to Lupe: (Option 1) Drive to the small Park and Ride Lot (22 spaces) found at the VTA's parking lot, by the River Oaks light rail station. Access the parking lot near the intersection of North First Street and River Oaks Parkway. As you leave the parking lot, walk or bike to the west (towards the river) and take the stairs or ramp up to the trail. Walk or bike along the trail to the south (towards downtown) for about 1/3-mile. You'll see Lupe as you reach the Trimble Road Bridge under-crossing. (Option 2) Drive via Highway 101 (Northbound) to the Trimble Road/De La Cruz Blvd exit, right turn onto Trimble Road, and right turn onto Seaboard Avenue. You'll find on-street parking along Seaboard Avenue and Channing Avenue. This option requires a short walk to the trail via the Trimble/Seaboard traffic signal.
- Share: Document your visit to Lupe by using #LupeTheMammoth on Twitter or Instagram.
- Map: Find Lupe the Mammoth via Google Maps, Roadtrippers, and AtlasObscura.
2. Hiking Trail Experience - Discover Alum Rock Park, Since 1857
Explore 13 miles of trails and hundreds of acres of beautiful California open space.
Alum Rock Park is located in the eastern hills of San José, and is one of California's first civic parks. The park is 720 acres and offers miles of trails (see recommended hikes:
- Hiking Map (Hi-Res, 7MB)
- Hiking Map (Low-Res, 1MB)
- Jr. Ranger Explorer Guide (Children, Ages 7 to 9)
Before You Go
Visitors will find a beautiful California landscape, and many architectural artifacts from the park's long history; including stone bridges and grottos. As your approach the park from Penitencia Creek Road, you'll see an old covered bridge that once carried streetcars as they carried urban dwellers to the park. Visit the Alum Rock Park page on the Trail Program website for a map, images and more information about the park. Video: NBC Bay Area / Back Roads visits Alum Rock Park and Sierra Vista
Find even more trails within the adjacent Sierra Vista Open Space preserve managed by the Santa County Open Space Preserve.
Walk or Bike: Alum Rock Park is about 5 miles from Downtown San José. Persons wishing to walk to the park may wish to consider the use of Transit per recommendation below. Bicyclists will find bike lanes and bike routes between downtown and the park.
- Bikeways Map (View Map C Which Shows the Park Entrance at the End of Penitencia Creek Road).
Take Transit: Take the Light Rail System's Alum Rock line to the Penitencia Creek Station. VTA Bus Lines 45, 61 and 104 serve the Alum Rock Light Rail Station. From the light rail station or bus stop, bike or walk along Penitencia Creek Road eastward for about 2 miles to reach the park's main entrance.
Note: Trails and sidewalks provide access along most of the route, but the roadway between Dorel Drive and the park entrance is a narrow, and shared by drivers, bikes and pedestrians.
Parking: You'll find several parking lots within the park. Parking is available at the park's main entrance, at the end of Penitencia Creek Road, as well as Eagle Rock and Rustic Lands areas. Additional public parking is available at Penitencia Creek Park, which is 1.3 miles to the west. Fee Schedule
Note: Please do not park in the neighborhood near the park entrance - residents are often inconvenienced by weekend and summer-time park visitors.