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Los Gatos Creek

 

The Los Gatos Greek trail runs from San Jose to Lexington reservoir. The northeastern trailhead is near the corner of Meridian and Westwood in San Jose. The "trail" runs through San Jose, Campbell, around Vasona Lake and through Los Gatos. This long section is completely paved and has nice undercrossings for all of the major streets.

Park: Multiple
Date: Multiple
Distance: 9.5 miles (one way)
Ride Time: 1:10? (one way)
Total Ascent: ~400 feet
Map: Detailed trail map (part 1)
Detailed trail map (part 2)
Overall Rating: 2

The Campbell portions of the trail form a "par course" with various exercise stations scattered about. Due to the proximity of a lot of housing, the trail is often crowded with runners, walkers, baby carriages, rollerbladers, etc., especially on weekends. While this is generally good, it means you will have to watch your speed along the "trail".

After crossing walkway over Highway 17, you find yourself in the parking lot of the Forbes Mill Museum. Take the dirt trail just to the left of the historic building. This dirt road follows along Los Gatos Creek. With the exception of two climbs at the end, there is only a very slight incline on this road. There are still several walkers on this section, but not as many as in Campbell. The first hill is short and steep enough to overcome novices (you'll know it when you see it). This serves as a warmup to the big hill. Currently, the road goes straight up the side of the Lexington Reservoir spillway. This climb is longer and may challenge some intermediate riders. This trail may revert to the old route that traversed across the face of the dam with a much lower grade. "Challenged" riders should watch their speed on the way down both of these sections.

By way of a funny story, one of my daughters was afraid to go down across the face of the dam after riding up it. In spite of my coaching and a sibling example, there was still considerable fear. She rode down and controlled her speed well, but I have never heard a continuous 2 minute scream before or since.

There are lots of entry/exit points along the route, so you can start/end almost anywhere. A convenient midpoint is Campbell Park in Campbell (of course) near where Campbell Avenue crosses under Highway 17 because there is quite a bit of parking here. You can also start in Vasona Park, but I think you will need to pay to park there. This ride can be easily connected to St. Josephs or, for the very ambitious, Limekiln or Priest Rock trails in Sierra Azul.

Los Gatos Creek is a good ride for beginners. It is smooth and very slight inclines. The length is easily adjusted and it is easy to access. There are lots of places to bailout for a cold drink or an ice cream. The only bad things are the crowded trails and lack of dirt.

There are lots of kids, old people, small dogs and oblivious people whose families shouldn't let them out in public, but they are on the trail because it is in the neighborhood. Be courteous and watch your speed.

Good places to eat after the ride include Willow Street Pizza or Los Gatos Coffee Roasting, but there are a lot of choices in downtown Los Gatos.

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