Boating. Biking. Riding. Hiking.
Anderson Lake County Park
Neil Wiley

It’s not surprising that a park named for a lake features boating and fishing, but Morgan Hill’s Anderson Lake County Park offers more. In addition to serving powered and non-powered watercraft, it provides shoreline picnic and barbecue facilities, multi-use paved and dirt trails, and some nice scenery.

For those who are concerned about conflicting uses, there are equestrian trails where bicycles are prohibited, and other trails where bicyclists can avoid horses. Hikers can walk any of the trails, with or without leashed dogs. Swimmers, however, are out of luck. Swimming is prohibited in the reservoir, lakes, and streams.

Although most boats are allowed, large racing craft are prohibited. Also, all boats must pass safety and environmental inspections, including special inspections for quagga and zebra muscles. Be forewarned. Rules are enforced.

Watercraft from San Benito County and all counties south of the Tehachapi Mountains will be denied entry. So will vessels from out-of-state. A $7 inspection fee is collected for inspection. Current vessel registration documents are required at the time of inspection. Vessels must be decontaminated using hot water treatment or they will not be permitted to launch.

When a vessel is leaving the reservoir for the day, a plastic band may be attached. If this band is broken upon re-entry into the reservoir, the vessel will be re-inspected before entering the water and an inspection fee will be collected. If any vessels are found to have water in the bilge or live well, or are not clean, they won’t be allowed to launch. Before bringing your boat, be sure to know the rules. Visit, or call 408-355-2201.
On weekends and holidays, anticipate waiting for inspection. I saw lines of twenty or so boats in mid-morning. In spite of some delays in getting the boat in the water, it can be well worth it. This is Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir, seven-miles long with 1,250 acres of open water for boaters, water skiers, and paddlers.

Most of the Anderson dirt trails are relatively short, but they offer some interesting scenery. My favorites are in the 116-acre Rosendin Park area, accessible from the boat-dock parking lot above the dam, and from Holiday Drive in the private community of Holiday Lake Estates. The boat-dock parking lot is reserved for vehicles pulling boat trailers, but you can park on top of the dam where you can see over Santa Clara Valley to the southwest, and down to the boats on the lake to the northeast. Behind the parking lot, you’ll see a large message board and an unmarked but obvious trailhead.

Walking up the hill on Lakeview Trail lives up to its name, offering many lake views. You can follow this trail down closer to the lake. Instead I turned right at the marker for Grey Pine Trail. This trail takes you through a lightly forested area that opens to a large grassy valley. Several benches along the trail give you a place to relax while you take in the scenery. You can walk farther down the valley to Holiday Drive and back, or continue around the loop back to the lake. The entire loop is only a mile or so.

You’ll find another trail by walking to the other end of the dam. Look to the left, and you’ll see a sign for the Serpentine Trail. This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, but it lives up to its name by wandering downslope to the bottom of the dam. It is a rocky, dusty trail, but it has some nice views of Santa Clara Valley, which you can use to excuse several rest stops on the way back up.

For another hike, drive down and out of the dam area along Malaguerra Avenue to a one-mile-long self-guided nature trail along Coyote Creek to Burnett Avenue.

For those who like long walks, skates, or bicycle rides on pavement, go west of Highway 101 for the 15-mile-long Coyote Creek Parkway, a multi-use paved trail along Coyote Creek. The trail is relatively flat and is shaded by oak, cottonwood, and sycamore trees. Equestrians can use their own eight-mile trail that also begins at Burnett Avenue. A staging area provides trailer parking, picnic facilities, and a horse trough.
To reach Anderson Lake, take Highway 17 to Highway 85 south, then travel south toward Morgan Hill on Highway 101. To reach the dam area, turn left (east) on Cochrane. To reach the Coyote Creek Parkway, turn right (west) on Cochrane, then right (north) on Monterey Road to Burnett Avenue.

An entry fee of $6 is charged when entering the dam area.