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12 Top-Rated Hiking Trails Near San Jose, CA

12 Top-Rated Hiking Trails near San Jose, CA

Hiking near San Jose is a great way to experience the beauty of California’s landscape. This city is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and is home to many top-rated hiking trails. From Santa Cruz Mountains to Almaden Quicksilver County Park, there are plenty of options for both beginner and experienced hikers. I visited San Jose for a vacation and took advantage of the opportunity to do some hiking. So here are my top picks for the 12 Best Hiking Trails Near San Jose.

1. Mission Peak, Mission Peak Open Space Preserve

•            Trail Length: 5.8 miles loop

•            Distance from San Jose: 16 miles

•            Difficulty: Hard

•            Elevation Gain: 2,135 feet

Mission Peak is one of the most popular hiking destinations near San Jose. The summit of Mission Peak offers stunning views of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley. However, the hike to the top is quite challenging, with an elevation gain of 2,135 feet.

The trail to Mission Peak starts from the Ohlone College Parking Area. From there, the trail winds through a variety of landscapes, including open meadows, wooded areas, and rocky sections. As you hike, you’ll get glimpses of the Bay Area through the trees. And when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding area.

The trail is 5.8 miles long and is considered to be a challenging hike. It took me around four hours to complete the hike, including stops for pictures and to take in the views. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone looking for a great workout and some stunning views.

2. Sequoia Trail, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

•            Trail Length: 4 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 40 miles

•            Difficulty: Moderate

•            Elevation Gain: 276 feet

Redwood trees are some of the most magnificent creatures on Earth. They can live to be over 2,000 years old and grow to be over 300 feet tall. So it’s no wonder people come from all over the world to see these incredible trees.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is one of California’s best places to see redwoods. The park covers 22,500 acres of land and is home to a variety of plant and animal life. The park also has over 80 miles of trails, making it one of the top hiking trails near San Jose.

The Sequoia Trail is a moderate 4-mile hike with an elevation gain of 276 feet. The trail winds through the forest of giant redwoods and offers stunning views of the trees. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

Other popular trails in the park include the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail and the Berry Creek Falls Loop Trail. The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is a strenuous hike that covers 29.5 miles and takes two to three days to complete. The Berry Creek Falls Loop Trail is a challenging 10.5-mile hike that takes five to six hours to complete.

3. Eagle Rock Trail, Alum Rock Park

•            Trail Length: 2.7 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 0 miles

•            Difficulty: Easy

•            Elevation Gain: 498 feet

I was really looking forward to hiking the Eagle Rock Trail in Alum Rock Park. I had seen pictures of the beautiful pictures of the trail and was excited to experience them for myself. And being one of the best places to hike in San Jose, I knew it would be a great workout.

The Alum Rock Park encompasses 720 acres of land and is one of the oldest municipal parks in California. The park is home to a variety of plant and animal life, as well as some stunning rock formations. This entices many hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers to visit the park each year. 

Offering the best views in the park, the Eagle Rock Trail is one of the most popular trails. The trail features beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valley, as well as a variety of plant life. The trail is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 498 feet. It is 2.7 miles long and can be accessed from the parking lot near the entrance to the park.

To reach the Eagle Rock trail, you’ll first need to hop on the North Rim Trail located at the parking area on Penitencia Creek Road. After a short distance, you’ll find the Eagle Rock Trail, which will take you the rest of the way to the top.

4. Lisa Killough Trail, Calero County Park

• Trail Length: 5.9 miles

• Distance from San Jose: 20 miles

• Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

• Elevation Gain: 750 feet

Calero County Park is a large park located in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The park has over 4,400 acres of land and features a variety of plant and animal life. There are also a number of hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult.

The Lisa Killough Trail is one of the longer trails in the park, at 5.9 miles. The trail is an easy to moderate hike with an elevation gain of 750 feet. The trailhead is located in the Rancho San Vicente Entrance to the park. It takes you deep into the wilderness and offers a number of different views and stops, including Lisa’s lookout picnic area.

The hike ends at an overlook of the Calero Reservoir and a junction with the Cottle Trail. You can continue on the Cottle Trail to make the hike a loop or turn around and head back the way you came.

I enjoyed hiking the Lisa Killough Trail. It was a nice, long hike with a moderate level of difficulty. I loved being able to go deep into the wilderness and experience the different views and stops along the way. I would definitely recommend this trail to anyone looking for the best hiking trails near San Jose.

5. Aquila Loop Trail, Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

•            Trail Length: 1.1 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 12 miles

•            Difficulty: Easy

•            Elevation Gain: 130 feet

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve is a beautiful place to go for a hike, especially if you love majestic views of the nearby mountains. The preserve covers 1,678 acres of land and features a variety of plant and animal life.

The Aquila Loop Trail is one of the shorter trails in the preserve, at just 1.1 miles long. However, it is an easy hike with an elevation gain of 130 feet. The trail winds through grassy hills and offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

I visited Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve on a weekday evening, and there were very few people around. Therefore, I’d recommend visiting on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds. I had the Aquila Loop Trail mostly to myself, which was a really great experience. Plus, the sunset views from this trail are absolutely stunning.

There is very little shade along the trail, so you’ll want to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. And since the trail is exposed to the sun, I’d also recommend going early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the heat. And finally, you’ll find the Aquila Loop trailhead near the preserve parking lot.

6. Penitencia Creek Trail, Alum Rock Park

•            Trail Length: 3.5 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 8 miles

•            Difficulty: Easy

•            Elevation Gain: 262 feet

I continue my list of the top hiking trails near San Jose with the Penitencia Creek Trail. The trail is 3.5 miles long and has an elevation gain of only 262 feet, making it a great choice for beginners or those looking for a relaxing hike. This is another great option for those looking for an easy hike with beautiful views.

The trail is located in Alum Rock Park, just a short drive from San Jose. Although this is relatively flat, it passes through some really cool rock formations and offers really nice views of the valleys below.

I completed the hike in around two hours, taking my time to enjoy everything the trail had to offer. And unlike many other San Jose trails on this list, the Penitencia Creek Trail has some shaded areas, making it a great choice for a hot day.

Additionally, the park offers a variety of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. And with 13 miles of trails to explore, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.

7. Hunters Point, Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

•            Trail Length: 1 mile

•            Distance from San Jose: 16 miles

•            Difficulty: Moderate

•            Elevation Gain: 240 feet

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve is a beautiful place to go for a hike near San Jose, with a variety of plant and animal life. The preserve covers 739 acres of land and features over 14 miles of hiking trails.

The Hunters Point Trail is one of the shorter trails in the preserve, at just over a mile long. However, it is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 240 feet. The trail winds through grassy hills and offers stunning views of the surrounding Santa Clara Valley.

To hike this trail, you’ll start from the parking lot near the entrance to the preserve. Then, you’ll follow the Cora Older Trail for about a quarter of a mile before reaching the Hunters Point Trailhead. From there, you’ll follow the Hunters Point Trail until you connect it with the Hayfield trail, which is the quickest route to the top. And being one of the best places to hike near San Jose, this trail is popular with runners and mountain bikers.

8. Coyote Peak Trail, Santa Teresa County Park

•            Trail Length: 3.8 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 17 miles

•            Difficulty: Moderate

•            Elevation Gain: 750 feet

Coyote Peak is the highest point in Santa Teresa County Park and offers stunning views of the Bay Area. The peak is 1,155 feet high and can be reached via a variety of hiking trails. I took the Coyote Peak Trail, which is 3.8 miles long and has an elevation gain of 750 feet.

Note that you’ll first need to take the Mine Trail downhill, which links up to Rocky Ridge Trail, before you reach the Coyote Peak Trail. This is a moderate hike with some steep sections. However, it is definitely doable for most people.

The views from the top of Coyote Peak are definitely worth the effort. From the top, you see Silicon Valley, Monterey Bay, and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Spring is a great time to visit Coyote Peak because of the wildflowers that bloom along the trail. However, the trail is open year-round and is beautiful in all seasons.

9. Mount Umunhum Trail, Santa Cruz Mountains

•            Trail Length: 7.7 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 20 miles

•            Difficulty: Moderate

•            Elevation Gain: 1,187 feet

Another one of the best hiking trails near San Jose is the Mount Umunhum Trail. And at 3,486 feet above sea level, this mountain is the highest point in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The trail is 7.7 miles long, with an elevation gain of 1,187 feet. It is rated as a moderate hike and can be accessed from the parking lot near the Bald Mountain Road entrance to the preserve.

The trail winds its way through dense mixed chaparral scrub and grasslands. The first part of the trail is a steep climb, gaining just over 1,000 feet in elevation. The trail then levels out, and there are a few small ups and downs before reaching the summit.

The views from the top of Mount Umunhum are stunning. And on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Monterey peninsula. In addition, the summit of this mountain holds cultural significance as it has a Ceremonial space for indigenous people from the region.

This is a great trail for anyone looking for a challenging hike with amazing views. However, it should be noted that this trail is very popular and can get crowded on weekends. I’d recommend going during the week or early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

10. Senador Mine to Mine Hill Loop, Almaden Quicksilver County Park

•            Trail Length: 14 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 0 miles

•            Difficulty: Moderate

•            Elevation: 2,253 feet

Almaden Quicksilver County Park is one of the best places to hike in San Jose. The park is 4,163 acres and is home to a variety of plant and animal life. There are also a number of historical sites within the park, including the New Almaden Mines, which were some of the first mercury mines in North America.

The Senador Mine to Mine Hill Loop is one of the most popular trails in the park. The trail is 14 miles long and takes you through a variety of different terrain, from shimmering azure lakes to old mining ruins. The trail is moderate in difficulty, with an elevation of 2,253 feet.

The hike took me around six hours to complete, and I was amazed by the variety of terrain and scenery it offered. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for the best hikes in San Jose.

11. Los Gatos Creek Trail

•            Trail Length: 10 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 0 miles

•            Difficulty: Easy

•            Elevation Gain: 100 feet

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is a 10-mile long trail that runs between the cities of San Jose and Los Gatos. The trail is mostly flat with a few gentle hills and is suitable for all levels of hikers. The elevation gain is only 100 feet, making it a great option for those looking for an easy hike.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is a paved trail that runs along Los Gatos Creek. The trail is popular with cyclists, rollerbladers, joggers, and hikers. The trail offers beautiful views of the creek and the surrounding hills. It is also a great place to see a variety of birds and other wildlife.

This trail also passes through several parks, including Los Gatos Creek County Park and Vasona Lake County Park. These parks offer a variety of amenities such as picnic areas, playgrounds, and restrooms.

Overall, this trail is a great option for those looking for an easy hike with beautiful scenery. It is one of the best hiking trails in San Jose that is accessible year-round and a great option for a quick hike.

12. Almaden Lake Loop, Almaden Lake Park

•            Trail Length: 1.4 miles

•            Distance from San Jose: 0 miles

•            Difficulty: Easy

•            Elevation Gain: Minimal

The Almaden Lake Loop is a short but sweet hike perfect for those looking for an easy hike near San Jose. The trail is only 1.4 miles long, making it a great option for a quick hike or run. And with minimal elevation gain, it’s perfect for those days when you don’t want to deal with a lot of uphill climbing.

The trail surrounds Almaden Lake, which is popular for fishing, boating, and picnicking. The lake is also a great place to spot wildlife, including ducks, geese, and turtles. You’ll find plenty of benches along the waterfront if you need to take a break and enjoy the views.

The Almaden Lake Loop is a popular trail, so it can get crowded on weekends and holidays. But it’s still a great option for a quick, easy hike. And if you go early in the morning or during the week, you’ll likely have the trail to yourself.

In Summary

There’s no doubt that San Jose is a great place to go hiking. These are just some of the best hiking trails near San Jose that I would recommend. So get out there and explore! And if you’re looking for more great hikes in the area, be sure to check out the Santa Cruz Mountains, which offer a variety of hiking trails for all levels.

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