Last time I visit there was Nov 2022
What? : Large nature park that has mountain ridge, valley, large lake, many small pounds, old oak forest and open meadows.
Where? : Located in the mountains, east of San Jose, half-way to mount Hamilton Lick observatory.
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 5: The park is open to mountain bikes although trails may have a lot of climbing.
Additional nearby parks:
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.
My favorite hike in the park (5.6 mile hike):
This is probably my favorite park hike that combine many sections of the park and cover both open land, forest and passing through lakes and ponds and it is also relatively flat.
I usually start the hike from inside the main park large parking lots but you can also start the loop from the small parking near the lake.
follow the marked trail into the meadows, cross few wooden bridges and turn left.
at the next trail junction turn right and climb the small hill. at the first trail junction where you have the old large dead tree turn right and hike to the small pond.
From the pond the trail climb to the road and cross it to the other side.
After visiting the lake walk to the parking lot and find the trail near the road. After short walk you will see the gate on your right, cross the road to the other side and keep walking in the direction on the "main" park section.