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Alum Rock Park

Alum Rock Park is the oldest municipal park in California. It has 13 miles of biking and walking trails of varying difficulty. From 1891 to 1901, access to the park came in the form of a Narrow Gauge Railroad that originated in downtown San Jose. The park boasts scenic views of Silicon Valley, a visitor’s center, a small museum, and picnic and play areas. Parking access is free and is the perfect destination for a relaxing family day with plenty of stuff to do. Embedded in the Alum Rock Canyon at the foothills of the Diablo Range is the oldest municipal park in California, established back in 1872. Alum Rock Park is in 720 acres, with a beautiful mix of vegetation on the steep slopes of the valley.

The south-facing slopes bathed in the sun grow fragrant sagebrush, while on the cooler north sides are California bay laurel, and coast live oak, with white alder, western sycamore and big-leaf maple growing on the damper valley floor. The terrain, granting heart-lifting vistas of the North Silicon Valley, can be traversed on foot, by bike or on horseback. The valley is riddled with mineral springs (27 in all) rich in sulfur and magnesium, and drawing health tourists from the late-19th century to the 1930s. Today’s visitors come for the rugged terrain, seasonal creek, far-off views, birding, picnic sites and barbecue puts. Alum Rock Park, in the Alum Rock district of San Jose, California, is California’s oldest municipal park, established in 1872 but serving as public land since the pueblo was established in 1777. Located in a valley in the Diablo Range foothills on the east side of San Jose, the 720 acre (2.9 km2) park offers 13 miles (21 km) of trails, varying from fairly level along Penitencia Creek to sharp switchbacks climbing to the ridges to the South Rim Trail and the North Rim Trail. The narrow floor of the valley includes a visitor center, a small museum/animal rehab facility, picnic areas, playgrounds, lawns, sand volleyball pits, mineral springs, lush plant life, woodlands, creek play opportunities, and occasional group camping.

The ridge trails offer views of Santa Clara Valley and of the valley in which the park is located. Some trails in the park are a part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail; the Todd Quick trail connects with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s 1,600-acre Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. Equestrians and mountain bikers have access to some of the park’s trails, while others are reserved for hikers only. Cross-country teams from high schools around North San Jose, such as James Lick High School and Independence High, use the park for training and for meets.

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