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It is difficult to travel through suburban Santa Clara County for more than a few minutes without noticing an abundance of cyclists and runners in the area. If you are strolling to downtown Los Gatos, chances are that the biker whizzing by you is headed for the Los Gatos Creek Trail. During the week this trail sees a moderate amount of traffic, but on weekends it bustles with activity. From 20-somethings clutching their morning lattes to energetic cyclists and families walking their dogs, you'll see everyone out enjoying this path on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Los Gatos Creek Trail spans 11.2 miles and passes through several cities between San Jose and Lexington Reservoir. The San Jose section is 1.9 miles, while the Campbell section is 9.3 miles. The southern portion follows a former South Pacific Coast Railroad line, which transported passengers from Santa Cruz to Alameda in the late 1800s. Beginning at the southern end at the Lenihan Dam on Lexington Reservoir the trail is unpaved dirt and gravel for the first 1.5 miles to the landmark Forbes Mill Museum, an 1854 flour mill and annex that exhibits Los Gatos area memorabilia. You will find a water fountain there but no restrooms.
Los Gatos Creek is wrapped in riparian undergrowth, and the sparkling creek is lovely. The trail has a moderate incline as it goes northward and includes one short but steep climb at 1.3 miles. The surface is a bit rocky here, and only experienced cyclists will be able to ascend it without dismounting.
At Main Street in Los Gatos the asphalt surface begins, and the trail leaves the rail bed to follow the creek bank. From this point the trail passes through a string of parks, including Oak Meadow, Vasona Lake County, Los Gatos Creek and Campbell, each with restrooms and parking. Starting at Los Gatos Creek Park there are trails on each side of the creek as well as loops around the ponds. The main trail, however, stays on the west bank until the overcrossing at Campbell Park.
The southern segment of the Los Gatos Trail currently ends at Meridian Avenue in San Jose. It picks up again (the 1.9-mile northern section) farther downstream at Lonus and travels to West San Carlos Street, passing under I-280. Cyclists can connect the segments by exiting the trail just past Leigh onto Willow Street (with bike lanes). Next, turn left on Glen Eryie, left on Lincoln and right on Lonus.
The City of San Jose is working to connect the trail to the Guadalupe River Trail in downtown San Jose.
The trail is accessible in many locations by transit and parking is also available at the parks along the creek.
To reach the trailhead from State Route 17, exit at East Los Gatos Avenue and turn right on Los Gatos-Saratoga Road. Continue on this road until it becomes East Main Street. Turn right on Church Street, which will take you straight into the Forbes Mill parking lot. The signed trailhead is located next to the Forbes Mill Museum. The paved trail goes north and the unpaved portion goes south.
I literally grew up on this trail, back when it was unpaved, and was just some weird, seldom-used backwater ie., prior to the early 1980s or thereabouts, at which point it started getting much more developed & popular. I have seen (quite large!) blue herons on (or adjacent) to this trail many times, and in 1995, I once saw a bobcat (at night, between Vasona dam and Lark Avenue). There are many turtles, and about 40 years ago, I once saw a Northern Pike (just behind Vasona dam). I've witnessed scores of salmon spawning at the Camden Avenue dam.
It’s tough to go a constant speed on your bike because it’s congested on the weekends. Lovely otherwise
I love this trail, as do many other bikers. Going northbound is especially fun as it's a slow descent. And at the same time, going southbound is not hard either. If you live in Los Gatos or Campbell this trail is usually the best route for going places to the north or south.
One thing that could be improved (but isn't a huge deal breaker), is that the north end of the trail is not connected to the Guadalupe River trail and requires some street riding for a short distance (1 mile or so)
I had been concerned about this trail due to reviews talking about the homeless that can be seen on this trail. As an older woman running alone, safety is a key concern. Although I did see a couple of homeless, this trail was well populated and well taken care of, so I didn't feel unsafe at all. Due to heavy rains this year, the "creek" was really a river, and was very nice to run beside, although at one point we were diverted to a street as the path was under water. There were lots of runners, walkers, bikers and skaters along the path, and they all seemed to "play nicely together". I went from one trail head for about 7 miles before returning. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire path.
They only downfall about this trail is the amount of traffic and people on it with no sense of trail etiquette especially for bikers. We came across multiple people who were just stopped in the middle of the trail talking with no concept of their surroundings. Please step off the trail or take a seat at the bench if you would like to partake in social hour. Thanks.
For non-stop walking, jogging. I walked the whole way about 4 hours, but 6 for me. I stopped a bit with my son in his jogger, still great time, good view. Perfect pit stops along the way, best trail in San Jose.
This was my first try at a trail, and I biked 1.9 mi. to start at the 'endpoint'--a BIG mistake! The beginning was poorly marked, and I made a wrong turn before I got started. Then, after a very short ride, the trail ended! with no indication, sign or anything. When I checked the map, I saw what I had failed to notice: the gap in the red trail marker. Heck, if the trail stops, wouldn't it be a different trail? It shout NOT have been part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail!
I went to google maps and figured out how to 'kind of' get to the place where the trail continued. This took me down Lonus St, left on to Lincoln, and right on to Glen Eyrie Ave (a delightful ride!), right on Willow, right on to Meridian which took me right to the trail entrance--which was closer to home than the trail endpoint where I had started!
Next time, I'll know where the trail REALLY starts at this end.
Reservoir, creeks, ponds, parks, vineyards, gradual hills and flats, downtown and away from town, Ducks, Geese, Mallards, Egrets, Owls, Deer, Skunks, Coons, Quail, Doves, Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Jays, Ravens, Blue Herons, Hawks, Mockingbirds, Finches, and Swans are all vistas and wildlife examples of what one might see in addition to Man's best four legged friend. One can enjoy the wide hard packed dirt or gravel trail or take the road less traveled and enjoy the narrow switchback. And when done, no run is complete without a stop at the Los Gatos Coffee Brewing Company cafe in downtown Los Gatos on Main Street and University Avenue where the athletic and those with a gift of gab congregate. A great start to a great day and in my humble opinion, one of the key reasons to live in California!
The Rails-to-Trails website posted description of this trail hardly begins to provide sufficient information. Far from 1.8 miles, this trail is actually nearly 10 miles long and extends well beyond Los Gatos thru Campell and into San Jose to where it ends at Meridian Ave. On its way it passes thru numerous parks with close proximity to the extensive Pruneyard shopping and dinning facility. In fact there is already a planned and partially completed extension which will take this trail into downtown San Jose.
See the link http://www.sjparks.org/Trails/LosGatos/LosGatos.asp for the San Jose Dept of Parks' description and map information.
The Los Gatos Creek Trail is probably the most extensive and well used "bicycle" (actually multi-use) trail in the whole south bay area and deserves much better coverage than that which is now posted. Editor's Note: The trail's description has been updated since this review.
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