Where? : Located in the mountains, east of San Jose, half-way to mount Hamilton Lick observatory.
What? : Very large park with mountain ridge, valley, large lake, pounds, old oak forest and open meadows.
When? : Year round park, I’m visiting this park at list every other month and enjoy it every time.
Due note 1: The park was not seriously damage by the summer 2020 fires, only some sections were burned but overall it was saved by the fire-fighters.
Due note 2: Parking at Lake and Twin Gate parking lot are being closed at sunset and if you park on the side of hwy 130 you may get a ticket.
Due note 3: Most of the park open spec is also used for cattle grazing, need to walk without intimidate the cows, take a safe distance.
Due note 4: As of April 2021 you need to pay in order to park your car at the lake parking lot, pass at the main park and pay there before arriving to the lake parking.
Due note 5: The park is open to mountain bikes although trails may have a lot of climbing.
My thoughts: This is probably my favorite large parks near the south bay. Only 40 min drive and you have real nature experience, lake, mountains. water ponds and many animals and birds to see.
Highly recommended park !!!
Relatively short drive from the south bay, very large park, it has many options to hike in variety of distances and difficult level, has a large lake & many water pounds, animals (many times I saw Dears, Coyote, wild pigs), bird and water-birds watching opportunities, settlement history, excellent south valley sunset view and usually without many people.
There are 2 options to reach the park, the main road is by taking hwy 130 that climb the east mountains. The second option takes the narrow and winding Quimby Rd from east San Jose. Both roads are winding up the hills with very nice south valley view, especially at sunset or at clear night where you can see the valley light below you.
The park is spread on both sides of hwy 130, situated in a Valley between 2 mountain ridges. The landscape is mainly green/yellow foothills (depending on the session), mainly open grassland with large oaks trees.
The main park entrance (pay station) and camping facility is on the right; the lake is on the left. Unless you are coming for overnight camping or long hikes in the south section, I will start my visit at the lake section (pay first at the main entrance).
The lake section (North, left of hwy 130):
The lake parking lot is located on the left side of the road; It is very small parking lot and you may have problem finding an available parking spot. Do not park on the main road because they are giving parking tickets.
If you can’t find a parking spot there another option is to get into the main park on the right (pay for the entrance) and park left of Garnet Rd.; there you can connect to the Lake section with Hotel Trail.
There are few hikes opportunities, from very short to very long loop.
From the Lake parking lot, you can do the following hikes (shortest to longest)
Very short (less than 1 mile, Red hike on the map):
In&out on the flat trail along the west side of the Lake. Go all the way to the end and then go back, there is a short loop also from the left side of the small dam.
Longer (2km, dotted Red hike on the map):
Right at the lake parking lot take right into Lake view trail that will lead you to small McCeery pond. At the pond take left into narrow single-track trail over the dam and take the McCeery lake trail left until it reaches the wide dirt road (near the big Eucalyptus trees); Turn left back to Grant lake.
Long and uphill loops (Orange hike on the map):
There are few options to climb the high ridge by taking one of the 3 trails going up (Yerba Buena, Los Huecos or Halls Valley) and coming back on the other trail.
All 3 options are long climb all the way to the upper ridge trail Canada De Pala trail.
Recommended loop is using Halls Valley going up and Los Huecos going down. With 2 cars you can go one way from Twin gate parking-lot and go down to the lake section.
Another 8.5 mile hike from the lake to the ridge at the east (purple at the map below):
Start at the lake parking lot and go to the main lake, from there take Halls Valley, connect to MecCerre Lake trail that reach the small pond. keep hiking on this single track trail, it connect to Yerba Buena. Keep going all the way up on Yerba Buena trail. connect and turn right on the upper ridge Canada De Pala trail. reach the parking lot and cross the road, from here this is downward.
Keep hiking down on Canada De Pala trail all the way to Hotel Trail, here you need to turn right.
you can keep going on Hotel trail all the way to the parking lot were we left the car or take the Loop Trail detour to the small and nice Bass Lake.