Los Alamitos Creek Trail,
City of San Jose & Santa Clara Water District,
Santa Clara County
In brief:
3.9 mile out and back walk on a paved trail.

Distance, category, and, difficulty:
Very easy; this 3.9 mile out and back walk is on a paved and nearly flat trail.

Exposure:
Mix of shade and sun.

Trail traffic:
Moderate.

Trail surfaces:
Paved trail.

Walking time:
2 hours or less.

Season:
Nice year round.

Getting there:
From Interstate 280 in Santa Clara County, take CA 85 south (toward Gilroy). After about 12 miles, exit at Almaden Expressway and turn right onto Almaden Expressway. Drive about 1 mile, then make a u-turn at Winfield and drive about 0.3 mile to the Almaden Lake Park entrance on the right.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/418

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 3714'28.98"N
Longitude
12152'26.62"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, and restaurants less than 1 mile away to the north. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Almaden Lake Park has two (unconnected) parking lots with plenty of parking. No dogs are permitted in the west lot (this is the one accessed by Almaden Expressway), so if you want to bring a dog, use the east entrance trailhead: from CA 85 drive on Almaden Expressway, turn left onto Coleman, right on Winfield, then turn right into the park. $6 parking fees are charged during summer months, but access is free other times of the year. You'll find restrooms, drinking water, and a pay phone at the trailhead. There are no maps of Los Alamitos Creek Trail at the trailhead, but interpretive signs along the trail highlight the route. There are several designated handicapped parking spaces, and trails are well suited to wheelchairs and strollers. This trail is accessible by public transportation. Visit the Transit Info website for details. You can also access this trail via a 25 car trailhead (no fee) on Camden Avenue at Mt. Forest Drive.

Rules:
Almaden Lake Park is open from 8 a.m. to one half hour after sunset. Los Alamitos Creek Trail is a multi-use trail. Dogs are permitted, on leash only (dogs are not permitted at the western part of Almaden Lake Park: see details above).

The Official Story:
San Jose's Almaden Lake Park page
San Jose's Los Alamitos Creek Trail page
Park office (408) 277-5130

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Los Alamitos Creek Trail map from City of San Jose
South Bay Trails, by Jean Rusmore, Betsy Crowder, and Frances Spangle (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and descriptions of Los Alamitos Creek Trail.

View photos from this walk.




Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page


Alamitos Creek flows from the eastern slopes of the Sierra Azul down into Almaden Valley, West entrance trailheadwhere it meets Arroyo Calero, then the two continue north to drain into Almaden Lake. Although the creek may look mild and gentle most of the year, heavy winter storms created chronic flooding in Almaden Valley until the Santa Clara Water District widened the creekbed and installed levees in the 1970s. Los Alamitos Creek Trail, a paved multi-use path, is a joint effort between the City of San Jose and the Santa Clara Water District. The broad path begins at Almaden Lake and heads south, following along the banks of the creek. Initially the trail skirts some housing developments, then it crosses the creek and runs parallel to Camden Avenue. Los Alamitos Creek Trail eventually abandons a roadside course and takes a final path along Calero and Santa Teresa Creeks, ending at Fortini Road and Santa Teresa CountyPath at Almaden Lake Park  Park.
     Hikers who prefer challenging dirt paths will quickly tire of the flat paved trail, but locals make good use of Los Alamitos Creek Trail, for dog-walking, jogging, daily strolls, and fitness training on the trailside paracourse. Almaden Valley, despite the press of civilization from San Jose, still is horse ranch country, and Los Alamitos Creek Trail gets a steady stream of equestrian traffic. Cyclists can use Los Alamitos Creek Trail as an expressway to Santa Teresa County Park, or even Almaden Quicksilver County Park (although this entails a short ride on city streets). If you take public transportation (San Jose Light Rail or bus) to the trailhead at Almaden Lake you can avoid paying a parking fee, and even take (in summer) an after-ride/hike swim.Alamitos Creek
      Start at the western parking lot and began walking on a paved path.You'll pass the swim beach and some picnic areas as you walk through the nicely manicured park. Just past a pretty line of peppertrees, a small path departs on the right, heading a short distance to a grassy hilltop. Continue straight on the paved path, then turn left and cross a bridge. At the end of the bridge turn right and at 0.35 mile, the path morphs into the signed Los Alamitos Creek Trail.
     The creek, downslope on the right, winds through a tangle of willow, fennel, and blackberry. Oaks, sycamore, and peppertree shade the trail, while wild rose, toyon, coyote brush, and blue elderberry occupy the understory. Los Alamitos Creek Trail reaches a housing development, on the left. The path passes a huge old sycamore tree which tosses leaves to the ground in autumn, and dips under a bridge (an alternate route for horses veers left). One of the several interpretive panels you'll encounter on your walk shows Los Alamitos Creek Trail's route, and explains how the Santa Clara Water District shifted the creek's course to prevent flooding. Los Alamitos Creek TrailAlthough there are more houses not far away on the right side of creek, direct your gaze over them for nice views of the hills of Almaden Quicksilver and, further west, the Sierra Azul. A dirt path for horses departs on the left, and runs a short distance from the paved trail. This nice alternate rejoins the main trail before long, but first draws close to a grassy hillside where you might see deer. A cottontail scurried underneath shrubs of coyote brush on my visit, attempting to evade a redtail hawk. You might notice that a portion of the hillside on the left is dominated by California sagebrush and black sage, two aromatic shrubs also found in profusion at nearby Santa Teresa County Park. The dirt and paved paths merge again and the two run together along the side of another housing development. Look uphill to the left for huge boulders on the hills above the neighborhood; although historically this area was cow pasture, in the late 1940's large scale rock removal was commonplace (if you continue walking past the Camden Avenue bridge you'll cross a street named Graystone). Bench and creek viewAlmaden Lake was created by filling an old quarry. Los Alamitos Creek Trail turns away from the houses and winds through some sycamores and a picnic area. Squirrels are common here. The trail takes a straight tack through an open area, then crosses the creek on a sturdy bridge and reaches the Camden Avenue Trailhead at 1.95 miles. From a bench facing the creek (a nice spot for a rest break), you might see egret, ducks, and heron in the creek. This is the turn-around point for this hike. The trail continues along the creek, but the next stretch follows close to Camden Avenue, and some visitors (including me) may consider this section of Los Alamitos Creek Trail more sidewalk than trail. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 3.90 miles
Last visit: Wednesday, November 28, 2001