Some hikes take you back into heavy forest, down into
deep canyons, and up to high mountains. This isnít one of those hikes.
The Los Gatos Creek Trail is paved, mostly flat,,
and the views arenít breathtaking. On a warm weekend, donít expect
solitude. Running through densely populated Los Gatos, Campbell, and San
Jose, this nine-mile trail is the most popular in Santa Clara County.
Traffic is heavy and fast, with hard-driving bikers, skaters, runners, and
power walkers competing for space in a narrow lane.
The wild life is mostly human. The smells, while
natural, are not all pleasant. And nearby Highway 17 is a continuing
reminder of things we wish to escape.
But for all that, Los Gatos Creek Trail is a trail
worth taking. Its paved flatness provides easy going for legs or wheels.
On my walk, people rolled by with a wild assortment of wheeled carts,
wagons, buggies, in-line roller skates, and other conveyances. They
pushed. They pulled. They rode. And most seemed in a terrible hurry to
reach fitness, even if it killed them.
Although long views are relatively few, there are many
interesting things to see along the way. Historic buildings. Lovely plants
and trees. Lakes and ponds. Interesting bridges. And people of every age,
size, and description.
Squeezed between Highway 17 and urban neighborhoods,
the trail could have been ugly, but good planning and landscaping screen
off most of the more objectionable sights. It doesnít hurt that the trail
passes through three county parks and several city parks. The Vasona Park
section is particularly pleasant, complete with wide vistas, duck-filled
lakes, and lots of green grass.
The best thing about the trail is its accessibility.
Not only is it close to us, but you can enter the trail at many locations.
For example, you can start at Lexington Reservoir Dam, or in Los Gatos via
Main Street (not far from the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company), Forbes
Mill (off Church Street), Miles Avenue, Vasona Park, or Oak Meadow Park.
In Campbell, you can enter or exit via Campbell Park
(Campbell Avenue), Los Gatos Creek County Park (off Dell Avenue), Old
Camden Avenue, Campisi Way, Camden Avenue/Highway 17, or Railway Avenue.
You can also cross over Highway 17 on the impressive pedestrian bridge to
East Mozart Avenue and on to Bascom Avenue.
At the northern end of the trail in San Jose, access is
at Blackford Elementary School near the intersection of Leigh Avenue and
The many access points let you choose the length of
your trip. You can also do different parts of the trail on each visit.
Although a round trip on the trail requires much backtracking, many side
trips and loops off the trail are available, especially in Vasona and Los
Gatos Creek parks.
Although from our mountains we can look down (sometimes
literally) on this urban jungle, it is well worth a walk or ride. Youíll
see some interesting sights, and view the Los Gatos area from a new
For more information and maps, visit www.parkhere.org,
then click Find a Park, then Los Gatos Creek. If you donít
have Internet access, call Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation,