Pacheco State Park cover vast area on the Diablo Range south of highway 152. In the park you can find many trails options to hike, climb the hills and walk along the ridgeline or cross the few creeks flowing in this area.
The landscape is mainly mountain range and creeks, open landscape grassland covered partly by big old oak trees spotting the landscape.
Pacheco State Park is located right of highway 152 on the way to highway 5 when it is crossing the pass section of the ridge.
Once HWY 152 reach the highest point of it climb there is a right turn (if you are coming from Gilroy) into a local road, turn right again into the park entrance and the parking lot (10$ day use).
This park does not locate in the bay area, but I included it in my south bay section because it is relatively nearby and can be visit as a day trip.
The best time to visit this park during sunny winter/spring day, when it is not hot and all the hills are green, during summer time all the grass turn yellow and you will not have any shade during your hike.
My preferred time to visit here is during winter but take into consideration that you will not have here much protection from the rain, try to visit here when it is not raining.
Due note 1: I do not think this park get a lot of visitors and you will feel that you have it all of it for yourself, especially at a winter day.
Due note 2: The park east section (to the direction of the lake) has wind towers turbines fields and does not looks like it is open to the public except one trail (Dinosaur Lake Trail), most of the park hiking trails are in the west section.
I really enjoy my long hikes at this park, rolling hills dotted with old oak trees and open grass landscape. During one of my winter visits I saw many Tule elk, deer’s and few coyotes, in others it was just the landscape.
There are many trails covering the west side of the park so you can create your hiking loop.
The east side of the park is close to public access.
You can park your car at the parking lot (need fee, accept only cache) or you can park just before entering into the park gate (on the other side of the road).
Inside the park near the parking lot you can find a place for picnic and gathering, not so much shade so it is not ideal for hot summer day or rainy winter day.
After your park visit you can keep driving for few miles down the paved road to the lake marina, enjoy the lake view.
Recommended hike (5,3 miles, blue color in the map):
From the parking lot go out to the park gate ->
take the Dinosaur Lake Trail that parallel the road going east ->
get back into the park and follow the trail (crossing to the east side and than back to the west side of the road)->
reach Dinosaur lake ->
keep on walking on Dinosaur Lake Trail climb the ridge and keep walking until the trail is descending to the Salt Creek crossing ->
can take the Pig Pond Trail up the ridge, turn right and pass the large Pig Pound on your right ->
hiking back to parking lot using Spikes Peak Rd.
The east section of the park where you can see all the wind turbines is officially out of reach and close to the public.
I must admit that few years back I followed from a distance a Tule Elk herd for few miles into this section.
It is very danger to touch any element that is related to the high voltage turbines.
Another hiking option (7.5 miles long):
This trail combine the Blue and Light-Blue trails in the above map.
Follow the park west high ridge trail heading south.
On this trail you have few options to take trails the the left.
At one trail point I decided to head east and go down to the creek.
from there I went to the directions of the turbine fields and reconnect to the trail that le leading north parallel to the maintenance dirt road.
See map of this hike: