Joseph D. Grant County Park

Introduction:

Where? : Located in the mountains, east of San Jose, half-way to mount Hamilton Lick observatory.

Google Map Link

 

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 !!!



 

The visit:


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.


Hikes:

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.

High ridge viewing trail (dotted Orange hike on the map):

Another option to hike in this section of the park (north of 130) is to park your car at Twin gate parking lot on the left side of hwy 130.

From there Canada De Pala trail is going north over the ridge top.

It starts with a step short climb but after that it moderately go up and down. 

From this trail you have excellent view of the surrounding area including all the way to the bay in the west and mount Hamilton and Lick observatory on the east.

This in&out trail is less visited but the view is very nice, excellent afternoon sunset view and you may see more animals. Because this is in&out trail you can do as much as you can, recommended long trip is to go all the way north and do the Pala Seca Trail loop.


Remember: Parking lots are closed 30 min after sunset!


 

The main section (South of hwy 130):

This is the main and larger park section (that also has a large campground); you need to pay for entrance.

There are many parking lots near the park gate and the old ranch house. When the lake parking lot is full you can park here and visit the north section of the park.

 

From the parking lot there are many trail options, most are based on well-maintained dirt roads.


 

The valley (Purple hike on the map):

Take one of the following trails (Hotel, Lower Hotel, Lower San Felipe) to Coral trail and see the Circle Corral cattle section and go back with another trail.

 

Bass Lake (Light blue hike on the map):

Take loop trail to the small Bass Lake and connect back to Hotel trail.

From my experience at late afternoon there are many wild pig (hog) near Bass pond.

From Bass Lake there is a trail that is going up the road and can connect you to the north side of the park so you can go to the large lake parking.



 

Long loop (Dotted Purple hike on the map):

Take the Snell trail (surrounding the campsite hill all the way to the far end) to Brush trail (do not confuse it with Lower San Felipe trail).

The Brush trail is less maintained but clearly marked climb the hill side and has a sharp turn to the left after 0.6 mile (do not keep straight on Dairy Trail).

At this section the Brush trail is now going south passing through very old big oak trees and will lead you into large open grassland and old oak trees.

At this point you can keep on Brush trail that start to go back north, connect to Eagle trail turn left and from there you can go back to the cars.



 

Longer loop:

A longer option of the previous loop is to take the Brush trail connector to Canada de Pala Trail, take left and go to Eagle trail, turn right at the junction and keep walking on Canada de Pala Trail cross the low creek section and climb on the other side.

At the hotel trail junction turn left and head back to the cars, passing Circle Corral cattle section.

Additional extension can be by going all the way south on Hotel trail to Eagle lake go back on the same trail or if you really want to do the longest option climb Foothill trail, turn left on Bonhoff and turn left again on Canada de Pala Trail.


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