Urban recreation meets wilderness
Ed R. Levin Park
Ed R. Levin Park is a happy hybrid. It has the
facilities you would expect in an urban parkópicnic tables, play
areas, lake and pond, golf course, and off-leash dog park. On the
wild side, however, it offers equestrian facilities, hang gliding,
and 19 miles of trails over rolling grassland and oak woodlands that
take you through 1,539 acres of open space. You can walk around a
little lake, across manicured lawns, or up a rugged four-mile trail
to the 2594-foot Monument Peak.
Large picnicking areas serve families and large
groups. Children can enjoy the playground, fly kites, and play
Frisbee on one of the three large lawn areas. The 18-hole Spring
Valley Golf Course is located in the park. Ed R. Levin Park is
dog-friendly, allowing dogs in picnic areas, parking lots, on all
trails north of Calaveras Road, and of course, in the expansive
off-leash dog park.
Powerboats arenít allowed on the quiet Sandy
Wool Lake, which makes for more pleasant fishing, paddling, and
resting. The lake is stocked with fish from November through May.
Children from ages 5 through 12 have their own special fishing
spotóSpring Valley Pond.
You may not want to hang glide, but you can
watch the gliders and paragliders take off and, if the wind is
right, soar right over your head. The park is home of the Wings of
Rogallo hang-gliding club.
If you and your children like to ride horses,
visit Shawn Mottís Bay Area Equestrian Connection any Sunday in the
Spring Valley area of the park. Shawn has a string of horses there
you can rent. You can ride around the large corral or sign up for a
trail ride. A 30-minute ride is $25; an hour is $40. Believe me,
itís a lot less expensive than buying a horse. For more information,
The trails offer a wide range of topography and
difficulty. The Spring Valley and Coches Ridge trails have a few
steep sections but are relatively easy going for horses and walkers.
The trip up to Monument Peak looks far more challenging. In general,
the park trails wander through open meadowland, which is pleasant on
a winter day but could be less comfortable in summer. The only trail
open to cyclists is the Mission-to-Monument Peak Trail section of
the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
My day began with a walk around Sandy Wool Lake.
I could see the entire lake, many fisherpersons, several flocks of
ducks, and nearby mountains, including Monument Peak. It was a nice,
easy walk, with many stops for photography. I could also see how you
could spend hours here, sort of fishing, sort of relaxing, sort of
I got back in my car and drove as far as
possible into the park. I parked between the dog park and the
hang-gliding area. Several hang gliders were perched up on the side
of the hill. One by one, they glided down to the landing area. At
the same time, two para-gliders took off. Their parachutes filled
with air, and they lifted up, then back down for a landing. Although
the wind was too light for longer flights, these fragile kites and
chutes were beautiful. It was fun to watch them defeat gravity, if
only for a few minutes.
I then drove out of the park, and turned left on
Calaveras Road. I passed one closed parking lot, and then drove into
the next lot on the right, the main entrance to the Spring Valley
section of Ed R. Levin Park. This area was much wetter, greener, and
shadier than the main park. I walked across a giant lawn to the
Spring Valley Pond, where a giant egret posed for a few photographs.
I walked up a slight hill past the equestrian
staging area to find the trailhead for the Spring Valley Trail. I
took it southwest past a big house and down a steep hill, over Vista
Ridge Drive to the connector for the Los Coches Ridge Trail. The
trail went uphill through forest, and then it made a sweeping loop
through large open meadows. The trail offered nice views of San
Francisco Bay and nearby mountains to the north and east. On a
winter day, the sun felt wonderful.
Completing the loop, I went back across Vista
Ridge Drive, but instead of going back up the hill, I turned left at
Spring Valley Trail. It was an easy, relatively flat walk down to
the Oak Knoll Group Area, where I turned right to take the shady
Nature Trail back to the ranger station and my car. It was a
pleasant and interesting four-mile walk.
Ed R. Levin Park is easier to reach than you
might think. Itís only 1.7 miles east of I-680 and Milpitas. Take
I-880 or I-680 north to Milpitas. Turn east toward the foothills on
Calaveras Road. Turn left on Downing to visit the main Sandy Wool
section. If you are visiting the Spring Valley section, continue on
Calaveras Road past Downing. Turn right into the Spring Valley
parking lot. Parking is $6.00 a day.
For more information, call 408-355-2200, or
visit the Santa Clara Parks website: www.parkhere.org.