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16 Top-Rated Hiking Trails near San Jose, CA

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Jul 26, 2022

San Jose has access to several hiking trails. Paved in-city hiking trails complement the wide selection of longer dirt trails outside city limits. And whether you're looking for the best family hike in San Jose or a challenging route to test the legs, San Jose has dozens of destinations to spend the day.

The impressive Santa Cruz Mountains border the Santa Clara Valley to the west, and to the east is the Diablo Range. These mountain landscapes offer hiking trails that feel farther from civilization than they really are. And some in-town hiking trails, like those found at Alum Rock Park, entice the same feeling of getting away.

Hiking trails meander throughout many different parklands surrounding San Jose. Municipal parks, open space preserves, and state parks are all within an easy drive. And while attributes like dog policies and parking differ between these different park units, they all reveal a natural side of San Jose that typically shines under the nice weather of the region.

Discover more places to explore around the city with our list of the top hiking trails near San Jose.

1. Eagle Rock Trail, Alum Rock Park

Eagle Rock viewpoint
Eagle Rock viewpoint | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Alum Rock Park is on the northeast outskirts of the city and is one of the oldest municipal parks in California. It encompasses 720 acres surrounding Upper Penitencia Creek and entices hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders with approximately 13 miles of trails. About half of the trails at Alum Rock Park are reserved exclusively for hikers.

The route to Eagle Rock offers one of the best views in the park and is open to all non-motorized trails users. From the parking area on Penitencia Creek Road, hikers looking to climb the approximately 400 feet to Eagle Rock first hop on the North Rim Trail. From the eastern trailhead, it's nearly a four-mile, out-and-back trip to Eagle Rock. A shorter alternative is available from the western trailhead.

San Jose from Eagle Rock
San Jose from Eagle Rock

The paved Penitencia Creek Trail also spans nearly two miles within Alum Rock Park, connecting both trailheads of the North Rim Trail. This popular pathway also connects with other hiking-only trails in the area like Inspiration Point Loop. Going beyond park boundaries, Penitencia Creek Trail extends three miles east from Alum Rock Park to Coyote Creek.

Address: 5341 Sierra Road, San Jose, California

2. Wildcat Loop Trail, Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Wildcat Loop Trail
Wildcat Loop Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Rancho San Antonio is one of the most popular open space preserves in the South Bay and is a 20-minute drive from downtown. The open space preserve and adjacent county park has over 24 miles of multi-use trails available for hikers, bikers, and horse riders.

The approximately three-mile Wildcat Loop Trail is a good entry point into the expansive public space. The trail begins by navigating less than a mile to the family-friendly Deer Hollow Farm, where a restroom facility is available. The actual Wildcat Loop starts just after the farm by traversing a scenic creek with little elevation gain.

Wildcat Loop Trail
Wildcat Loop Trail

A slight climb on the Wildcat Loop Trail offers some big views atop a ridgeline, as well as a stunning display of wildflowers in the spring. The trail connects with the Rogue Valley Trail before heading back down to Deer Hollow Farm.

Numerous other hiking trails connect to the Wildcat Loop, including the more strenuous Stephen E. Abbors Trail, formerly known as the PG&E Trail. The most strenuous hiking trail at the preserve, the Black Mountain Trail, is an eight-mile round trip from the closest trailhead.

Address: 22500 Cristo Rey Drive, Cupertino, California

Official site: https://www.openspace.org/preserves/rancho-san-antonio

3. Coyote Peak, Santa Teresa County Park

Hiking trail at Santa Teresa County Park
Hiking trail at Santa Teresa County Park

Santa Teresa County Park is a 20-minute drive south of downtown and offers an easy escape into nature with eighteen miles of hiking trails. Multiple different routes and loops can be created to reach the top of the 1,155-foot Coyote Peak within Santa Teresa County Park, and all of them involve climbing. A common approach is to start at the Pueblo Day Use Area and traverse the steep Rocky Ridge Trail to connect with the Coyote Peak Trail.

After following the Coyote Peak Trail and summit spur trail, hikers can hop on the Hidden Spring Trail to make a loop back to the parking area. It's approximately a four-mile round trip in this fashion, with over 750 feet of elevation gain along the way. Longer loops can be created by utilizing the nearby Ridge Trail or Ohlone Trail. Water is available at the Pueblo Day Use Area.

Address: Bernal Road, San Jose, California

4. English Camp and Deep Gulch Trail, Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Old sheet barn used in Mercury Mining at Almaden Quicksilver County Park
Old sheet barn used in Mercury Mining at Almaden Quicksilver County Park

In the high hills above the southern suburbs of San Jose, this 4,000-plus-acre park has over 35 miles of hiking trails and a long history with mining. This area was once home to one of the most productive mercury mines in California, and home to thousands of miners and their families. Remnants of these operations remain throughout the park today.

The park has three entrances, including the Hacienda Entrance, where hikers pick up the English Camp and Deep Gulch Trails. English Camp Trail and Deep Gulch Trail parallel each other with a gentle slope and both traverse just over a mile to reach a prominent junction in the park's network of hiking trails.

The remnants of an English Camp are explored at this junction, where other trails like the Castillero Trail and the Mine Hill Trail also converge. Historical remnants line all these trails in the central area of the park and combine to make the Quicksilver History Trail with numerous looped options available.

On-leash pets are welcome on all trails at Almaden Quicksilver County Park. No reliable water facilities are available.

Address: 21785 Almaden Road, San Jose, California

5. Hunters Point, Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve
Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

Just outside of Saratoga and southwest of San Jose, Fremont Older Open Space Preserve is accessible from downtown in 25 minutes by car. Fourteen miles of trails navigate the undulating low hills of the preserve, including a scenic trail up to Hunters Point.

From the Prospect Road entrance of the preserve, hikers start on the Cora Older Trail to reach Hunters Point and continue on the Hayfield Trail for the quickest route to the top. This route is approximately a mile-and-a-half round trip and climbs less than 500 feet. At the top is a beautiful view of the Santa Clara Valley.

With a more moderate climb from the Prospect Road trailhead, an even higher vantage point can be experienced at Maisie's Peak. Another popular trail at the preserve is the Coyote Ridge Trail which connects to the adjacent Stevens Creek County Park.

Official site: https://www.openspace.org/preserves/fremont-older

6. Deer Hollow Farm Loop Trail, Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Deer Hollow Farm
Deer Hollow Farm | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

With over 25 miles of trails, Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve is a place to go the distance with a big hike. But it's also home to one of the most popular family hikes in Santa Clara County. And the less-than-a-mile journey to the preserve's open-to-the-public farm offers all types of fun with a short day hike

From the main parking areas at Rancho San Antonio Open Space, families venture on either the paved Lower Meadows Trail or single-track Coyote Trail to reach the farm.

The Lower Meadows Trail is much flatter and accessible for strollers, scooters, and other wheeled transportation. Families often make a loop out of the two trails, totaling less than a two-mile round trip.

Plan to spend some time at the farm upon arriving. Century-old barnyard buildings entice exploration, and livestock like sheep, goats, and chickens catch the eye. Picnic tables are also readily abundant at the farm for a packed lunch outside.

7. Sequoia Trail, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Sempervirens Falls on the Sequoia Trail
Sempervirens Falls on the Sequoia Trail

Big Basin Redwoods is the oldest state park in California and is located under 40 miles southwest of San Jose. The entire park encompasses dramatic ocean views, tumbling waterfalls, and ancient groves of coastal redwood trees, some over 300 feet tall.

Big Basin Redwoods is also home to nearly 80 miles of hiking trails. The half-mile interpretive Redwood Trail is a must-do hike at Big Basin, where hikers encounter the Mother and Father of the Forest and some of the biggest trees in the park.

For a slightly more strenuous hike surrounded by redwoods, the Sequoia Trail provides a four-mile loop that utilizes the Skyline to the Sea Trail. The trail has very minimal elevation gain and the 20-foot Sempervirens Falls is a good hangout spot roughly halfway along the trail.

For a more challenging hike in the same area, the 10.5-mile Berry Creek Falls Trail showcases four different tumbling waterfalls.

The 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire tore through Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Much of the parkland remains closed throughout 2022. Small sections of the state park have since reopened, exclusively along the western coastal region. The state park maintains up-to-date information regarding the rehabilitation of the landscape.

Address: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, California

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=540

8. Peak Trail, Mission Peak Open Space Preserve

Sunrise on Mission Peak
Sunrise on Mission Peak

Mission and Monument Peaks are north of the city near Fremont and are a defining feature of the South Bay skyline. Surrounded by 3,000 acres of parkland, the strenuous route to the top of the 2,517-foot Mission Peak offers a rewarding goal. Starting from the Ohlone College Parking Area, it's a three-mile uphill effort to the top of Mission Peak, but the 360-degree views of surrounding mountain ranges are worth the effort.

It's just over a six-mile loop to get back to Ohlone College from the top of Mission Peak, and no water facilities exist along the trail. Summer temperatures and exposed areas of Mission Peak Open Space Preserve have prevented hikers from making it to the top. During hotter times of the year, the morning is the best time to attempt a summit of Mission Peak.

Official site: https://www.ebparks.org/parks/mission/default.htm

9. Aquila Loop Trail, Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

Beautiful view from the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve
Beautiful view from the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

In the foothills above Alum Rock Park, less than eight miles from downtown, Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve offers an easy escape from the South Bay. It encompasses over 1,600 acres of woodlands, grasslands, and rolling topography.

The Aquila Loop Trail is a good first place to start exploring the park. With minimal elevation gain, this 1.2-mile, family-friendly loop meanders through grasslands and has great views the entire way.

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve is also home to more challenging hikes, like the five-plus mile Boccardo Loop Trail on the west side of the park. On the east side, connected by the Sierra Vista Trail, hikers can go the distance and explore places like the Upper and Lower Calaveras Fault.

Ambitious day hikers can also connect Sierra Vista Open Space trails with the adjacent Alum Rock Park for a big out-and-back hike.

Address: 5341 Sierra Road, San Jose, California

Official Site: https://www.openspaceauthority.org/visitors/preserves/sierra.html#about

10. Mount Umunhum Trail, Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve

Sunset from the Mount Umunhum summit
Sunset from the Mount Umunhum summit

Abutting Almaden Quicksilver County Park on the south side of the city, Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve encompasses one of the highest peaks in the Santa Cruz Mountains. At 3,486 feet in elevation, Mount Umunhum provides a defining view of the South Bay and entices hikers with a moderate climb to the top. A steep and narrow paved road accesses a parking area at the top of the summit, but the best way to earn the views is along the 3.4-mile Mount Umunhum Trail.

Beginning at the Bald Mountain Parking Area, the Mount Umunhum Trail gains just over a thousand feet on its way to the summit. Beautiful views only get bigger as you make your way up the trail, and on clear days, hikers see as far as the Monterey Peninsula.

Significant cultural attractions are also found at the summit of Mount Umunhum, including a dedicated Ceremonial Space that honors the indigenous peoples whose cultures are tied to the region.

Official site: https://www.openspace.org/preserves/sierra-azul

11. Lisa Killough Trail, Calero County Park

Lisa Killough Trail
Lisa Killough Trail

Calero County Park is on the southeast edge of the city and is home to the popular Calero Reservoir. It's a hot spot for motorized and non-motorized boating and also has nearly 19 miles of trails spanning its "backcountry" region.

Starting from the Rancho San Vicente Entrance in the parks northwest corner, the five-mile Lisa Killough Trail is a great way to get into the heart of this wilderness area. With less than 750 feet of ascent, and an optional stop at Lisa's Lookout picnic area, this point-to-point hike finishes at a junction with the Cottle Trail and an overlook of the Calero Reservoir.

Hikers can travel much deeper into Calero County Park from here, with immediate access to the Serpentine Loop. Hikers can also take the Cottle Trail back along the banks of the reservoir for an approximately eight-mile loop.

Address: 23205 McKean Road, San Jose, California

12. Seven Springs Loop, Fremont Older Open Space Preserve

Seven Springs Loop Trail
Seven Springs Loop Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Seven Springs Trail is another popular route to explore in Fremont Older Open Space on the southwest side of the city. The trail itself is less than two miles long, with less than 500 feet of elevation gain, but extra hiking is required to reach the beginning of the trail. From the common parking area of Prospect Road, it's closer to a three-mile round trip.

Generous views of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley are presented along the route as it dips up and down throughout the foothills. Bicyclists and hikers share the trail, which can be busy on the weekends. The Seven Springs Loop has some shade along the way, but summer temperatures still make it a hot hike. No water is available.

Seven Springs Trail is also popular thanks to its many opportunities for side adventures. The preserve's most popular hiking destination, Hunter's Point, is accessible with a short detour from the Seven Springs Trail. And in the same area, Rainbow Knoll offers another long-distance view nearby.

13. Coyote Hills Regional Park

Bayview Trail, Coyote Hills Regional Park
Bayview Trail, Coyote Hills Regional Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Coyote Hills is along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in Fremont. It comprises over 1,200 acres of grassy hills and variable wetlands. Visitors from San Jose reach this sprawling parkland and wildlife habitat with approximately a half-hour drive on Interstate-880.

The Bayview Trail is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares throughout the park. It's a paved 3.5-mile loop that circles much of the property with a fairly flat grade. The Bayview Trail also connects to several other routes in the Coyote Hills for all types of adventures. The trail begins outside of park gates, at the turnoff from Paseo Padre Parkway.

The popular Alameda Creek Trail also runs along the north side of the park. This 12-mile multi-use trail connects Fremont to the San Francisco Bay. It's less than a mile west to the Bay from Coyote Hills. Heading east, other notable natural spaces include Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area, approximately five miles away.

14. Coyote Creek Trail, Hellyer County Park

Coyote Creek Trail
Coyote Creek Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

When fully completed, the Coyote Creek Trail will ultimately connect the San Francisco Bay to the southern end of San Jose. Currently, a 15-mile paved portion of the route extends south from Hellyer County Park to Anderson Lake County Park.

The paved trail is popular with hikers and bicyclists and passes by numerous park attractions in Hellyer, including an Olympic size velodrome and the scenic Cottonwood Lake.

The Coyote Creek Trail also extends north from Hellyer County Park and passes through the Los Lagos Golf Course.

Address: 985 Hellyer Avenue, San Jose, California

15. Los Gatos Creek Trail

Los Gatos Creek Trail
Los Gatos Creek Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Spanning for 10 miles between the city of Los Gatos and San Jose, this paved pedestrian path is well utilized by hikers, bikers, and anyone looking to get outside. Alongside forested corridors and scenic wooden bridges, the Los Gatos Creek Trail also passes through popular outdoor places like Vasona County Park and Los Gatos Creek County Park.

Los Gatos Creek Trail
Los Gatos Creek Trail

Networks of dirt hiking trails branch away from the paved path in these public green spaces. Numerous access points and public restrooms also line the trail.

16. Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail

Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail
Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is a popular backpacking route in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It spans 30 miles from Castle Rock State Park to Waddell Beach in Big Basin and is usually traversed over three days of hiking. Reservations are required to use the backcountry campsites.

Backpackers from San Jose can be at the Castle Rock Trailhead in less than an hour.

The 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire compromised much of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. As of 2022, Waddell Beach is one of the few places in the park open to visitors. The rest of the trail throughout Big Basin and beyond is currently closed.

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