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5 Beautiful Places to Visit in San Jose Bay Area, California

Updated on April 28, 2015

Beautiful Views of the San Jose Bay Area from the Foothills

Lookout from South Rim Trail in Alum Rock Park
Lookout from South Rim Trail in Alum Rock Park | Source

The Beauty of Nature and Parks in San Jose CA

San Jose is in the heart of the Bay Area, CA and it has many beautiful things to see in the surrounding area. I find that locals often do not know about all the beauty around them and it is sad because there is so much. One of things I love most about Nature in the Bay Area and San Jose is that it is so diverse and unique. I can go to many different parks around San Jose and see something totally different at each place I go.

1.) Alum Rock Park

This park is beautiful and one of my favorites. Tucked into a small canyon on the East Side of San Jose, it has a unique ecosystem that includes a lot of trees, a bubbling brook of sulfer water, the remnants of once vibrant sulfer springs that still sputter up from under the ground, wildife like deer and squirrels, raptors like eagles and hawks, and even some fish. The two best hikes in the park are the hike to Eagle Rock and the hike on the South Rim Trail. The Eagle Rock hike is a very short hike uphill for about 0.4 of a mile. At the top of this hike, you can enjoy a view of the entire bay area valley stretching all the way to San Francisco and Oakland on a clear day. A nice rock at the top of the hike gives you a place to lay down and relax and enjoy the view, or you can use the benches provided as well. For a more strenuous hike, the South Rim trail takes about 2 hours. It's a beautiful trail that follows the creek for a while and then takes you up on top of the canyon. This will allow you some beautiful views of they bay area valley before it drops down into forest and trees and winds back to the parking lot. I have seen deer along this trail.

Beautiful South Rim Trail, Alum Rock Park San Jose CA

Beautiful Hiking South Rim Trail in Alum Rock Park in San Jose, CA
Beautiful Hiking South Rim Trail in Alum Rock Park in San Jose, CA

2.) Big Basin State Park

I love Big Basin State Park for its beautiful redwood trees. But the hike that has drawn me up there time and again is an 11 mile loop past Berry Falls. Starting from the parking lot, this hike goes downhill for a few miles before passing by three beautiful waterfalls. It then ascends up next to the waterfalls and works its way back to the parking lot. Big Basin State Park is the oldest state park in California. It is a popular place to camp and has a nice campground. Parking in the park is $10 for the day unless you purchase the Annual state park pass. I usually go up for the day if I go and the 11 mile loop takes about 4 hours for me to complete. The signs tell hikers it will take 6 hours but I think they are assuming people will be hiking very slowly. One caution: I have encountered other hikers squatting on the trail to use the bathroom so not everyone who goes to this park knows good trail etiquette.

Vista Overlook from Quicksilver County Park showing view of city of San Jose CA

Lookout from Vista Overlook at Quicksilver County Park in San Jose CA
Lookout from Vista Overlook at Quicksilver County Park in San Jose CA

3.) Quicksilver County Park

I love this park for its accessibility and its beauty. It has at least 3 main access points in South San Jose. It can be accessed at the entrance on old almaden road, on hicks road, and off Mcabee road. I tend to access the park from McAbee road and this is the most popular access point. From Mcabee road there is easy access to a 40 minute hike and a 2 hour hike, both of which are beautiful. At the top of the 40 minute hike is an overlook giving a beautiful view of the city and bay area valley.

The access point at old almaden road is much less popular for good reason. Its about a mile hike uphill to get into the key area of the park accessible from this region. It is a lot closer to abandoned mine shafts and towns of historic interest but its a strenuous hike. This is also the access point that bikers are allowed to use.

If you hike this whole park from the mcabee entrance, its probably about 7 miles across in one direction. I've done it before, its pretty strenuous and beautiful.

Overlook on Mount Umunhum showing San Jose, CA

View from Overlook near Mount Umunhum near San Jose CA.  This overlook also reveals beautiful views of the city of San Jose and the Bay Area
View from Overlook near Mount Umunhum near San Jose CA. This overlook also reveals beautiful views of the city of San Jose and the Bay Area

4.) Look Out Near Mt Umunhum and Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve

Near the Quicksilver Park entrance on Hicks road is the entrance to the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. This beautiful Open Space Preserve boasts a strenuous 12 mile hike stretching to the Kennedy trail in Los Gatos, CA. This hike has beautiful views of the San Jose valley, the city, mountains, and surrounding Bay Area. If you take the road past the entrance to the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and continue up to Mount Umunhum, you will eventually come to a gate where cars can proceed no further and where there is some space to park. Off to the left side is a trail that goes for less than a half mile and opens up to a knob on top of hill where you can see a 360 degree view of the Santa Cruz Mountains around you and includes beautiful views of the valley and San Jose Bay Area.

Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden next to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is beautiful garden for families near downtown San Jose. It is part of Kelly Park, a beautiful park with lots of trees, barbecue pits, and walking trails. The friendship garden has huge ponds with coy fish and you can bring quarters and purchase food to feed the fish. The food is not always present. It appears that the park rangers only put out enough food to purchase that is good for the fish and once it runs out, they do not refill it for the day. This is a great place to relax and read a book, take a nap, go on a romantic stroll, or bring your children for a relaxing hang out. Across the street, the San Jose Giants baseball team has their baseball park, and Happy Hollow is next door to Kelly Park. There are lots of things to do here and a family can spend a whole day enjoying the beautiful area.

© 2015 greenhealthguru

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