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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.
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