Santa Teresa County Park

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Santa Teresa County Park is in the Santa Teresa Hills about 10 miles southeast of downtown San Jose.  From the hilltops there are views of the south Santa Clara Valley from the edge of San Francisco Bay to the Diablo Range and Santa Cruz Mountains, with Coyote Valley extending to the southeast.  A segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail crosses the park, then passes along the Calero Creek Trail and Los Alamitos Creek Trail, both of which are San Jose City trails.  The southwest end of the Ridge Trail segment is about ½ mile from another Ridge Trail segment in Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

GPS track

GPS track

The starting point for my hike was the Pueblo Group Picnic Area.  Although I was looking forward to great views of nearby Mt Umunhum, I was delighted to have a close-up view as soon as I got out of my car, with the famous cube nicely reflecting the morning sun.  The ridgeline in front of Um is in Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

picture of Mt Umunhum

Mt Umunhum

The day of my hike was clear and sunny, with a pleasant starting temperature of about 75 degrees.  The beginning of the hike goes up to the top of Coyote Peak, with 360-degree views.  After descending to the heart of the park on the Mine Trail, Stile Ranch Trail climbs up and over a ridge to the southeast corner of the park.  Then the Ridge Trail follows the Calero Creek and Los Alamitos Creek Trails for almost 3 flat miles.  At the far end I turned around to return to my car.

Elevation profile

Elevation profile

Coyote Peak is about a 500-foot climb from the trail head along a 1.1-mile route, so the grade is a reasonable 10%.  From the top the views were quite nice.  To the northeast there is a narrow band of city, with US-101 behind, and then several successive ridgelines in the Diablo Range.  Anderson Reservoir is tucked behind the first ridgeline.

photo of Diablo Range from Coyote Peak

Diablo Range from Coyote Peak

To the northwest is San Jose, with the downtown in the distance and the south end of San Francisco Bay lost in some haze.

image of San Jose from Coyote Peak

San Jose from Coyote Peak

After returning to the trail head, the Ridge Trail route continues through the heart of Santa Teresa County Park on the Mine Trail.  About 0.7 miles from the trail head is a junction with Fortini Trail.  This trail is actually kind of a short cut to the southeast corner of the park, descending rather gently.  The ridge Trail instead follows Stile Ranch Trail, which climbs up and over a ridge with more sweeping views of the area.  Actually, as can be seen in the elevation profile, the Stile Ranch Trail climbs up, descends about 100 feet, then climbs up and over a second time.  From the first hilltop there is a pretty view across the hills back toward Coyote Peak, at the right in the picture.

picture of Santa Teresa Hills and Coyote Peak

Santa Teresa Hills and Coyote Peak

After crossing the first ridge line, the Stile Ranch Trail crosses a narrow valley with a seasonal stream at the bottom, then climbs up the other side.  The switchbacks make a pretty pattern on the hillside.

photo of Stile Ranch Trail

Stile Ranch Trail

After crossing the second ridge line, the trail descends to meet the lower end of the Fortini Trail at another trail head and parking area near the end of Fortini Rd.  On the way down the trail there is a nice view of Loma Prieta, epicenter of the 1989 earthquake, just about 5 miles away.  Fortini Rd is in the foreground at the left.

image of Loma Prieta

Loma Prieta

From this trail head the Calero Creek Trail follows next to the road for ¼ mile or so, where there are a few houses.  As I walked by I was startled to hear a rooster crowing – startled because it was almost 1:30pm, and the rooster crowed over and over.

picture of rooster crowing

Rooster crowing

After about 1.2 miles, the Calero Creek Trail arrives at Harry Rd and becomes a paved multi-use trail, Los Alamitos Creek Trail, which makes a large U through a residential area.  In this area I noticed a pretty shrub with delicate pink fuzzy flowers.

photo of flowering shrub near Los Alamitos Creek Trail

Flowering shrub near Los Alamitos Creek Trail

The multi-use trail goes about 1.5 miles before ending at McKean Rd, just 0.5 mile or so from the Mockingbird Hill Lane staging area in Almaden Quicksilver County Park.  At McKean Rd I turned around and returned to the Pueblo Group Area trail head.  As I approached the parking area, Mt Hamilton was again in view, with the afternoon sun reflecting from the white observatory buildings.

image of Mt Hamilton

Mt Hamilton

This view was a pleasant way to end the day of hiking through a park I had not previously visited.  I learned later that, in the late spring, there are mariposa lilies along the Fortini Trail and quite a display of spring wildflowers along Stile Ranch Trail.  It will be interesting to return to this park in a different season.

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3 Responses to Santa Teresa County Park

  1. Dale says:

    As always, I enjoy your hike write-ups!

    What do you use to create your elevation profiles!

    Hope to bump into you on the trail some day!

    • trailhiker says:

      Thanks for your feedback. I use the software that came bundled with my Garmin eTrex GPS unit, called MapSource. One of the functions is the elevation profile. Very easy to use. Not sure if the software if available separately, but it sure might be.

      Happy trails!

  2. Pingback: Santa Teresa County Park: Stile Ranch and Fortini Trails | trailhiker

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