Things to do in San Jose

Explore the Best Hikes Near San Jose

Take a walk on the wild side where bobcats and hawks live. San Jose is home to some of the best hiking trails, offering unforgettable adventures.

Rugged hills, rivers, and parks showcase the beauty of nature throughout San Jose. Despite being in Silicon Valley, the breathtaking scenic diversity makes the city both captivating and unique. There's no better way to experience this dichotomy than exploring the best hikes near San Jose.

Join us as we look at the exciting things to do in San Jose for hikers and wilderness enthusiasts, from traversing the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains to strolling along the banks of Los Gatos.

Almaden Quicksilver County

Stretching over 4,163 acres, Almaden Quicksilver County Park was once rich in cinnabar, a source of valuable mercury. Today, you can still see the park's rich history unfold across the rolling fields tucked away between wildflower displays.

1. Mine Hill Trail Loop

Mine Hill Trail Loop runs through the valleys of Almaden Quicksilver County Park, forming an 8-mile circuit that takes you on a trip through time.

Old mine entrances and traces of mining equipment dot the landscape. It just goes to show you how many Californians made a living in the 19th and 20th centuries. For many Californian families, the cinnabar mines were the lifeblood of the community.

Bygone mines aren't the only reason to take the journey along Mine Hill Trail. The hike also offers spectacular views of the Santa Clara Valley that shift throughout the seasons.

In spring, you can expect to see beautiful wildflowers blooming majestically, but the region takes on a vibrant golden hue in fall. Even the winter landscape, with its crisp air and lush greenery, provides a serene backdrop for exercise or a family picnic.

2. Senador Mine to Mine Hill Loop

With a 2,257-foot elevation gain, the Senador Mine to Mine Hill Loop is one of the more challenging hikes in the region.

ion The 14-mile journey is well worth it for intrepid hikers. You'll be greeted by picturesque views of the Guadalupe Reservoir and the mountains surrounding the Almaden Valley. Wildlife lovers are in for a treat, too. While usually quite skittish, deer and wild turkeys often appear throughout the oak forests and meadows of the Senador Mine Trail.

Bird watchers should listen for the distinctive call of the California quail. Keep an eye on the skies; you might even spot majestic hunters, such as the red-tailed hawk and turkey vulture, soaring overhead.

3. Guadalupe River Park Trail

What if the Industrial Revolution gave rise to an alternative poetic reality — a world of wonders full of steampunk robots and mechanical apparatuses? That's what we ponder every time we look at San Jose's modern buildings from the Guadalupe River Park Trail.

While the modern world offers a feast for the eyes, nature also abounds along the trail. This gentle hike lets you see both sides of San Jose as you stroll from the San Francisco Bay to Downtown. It's also one of the most accessible hikes for families because it has a fully paved path that's suited to most skill levels.

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve

Far from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve exists to protect nature near San Jose. Climb the rolling hills to be treated to stunning views of the Santa Clara Valley and the Diablo Range.

Photographer: Sorb

4. Boccardo Loop Trail

One of San Jose's trickier hikes, the Boccardo Loop Trail, offers clear views of rolling hills and the best viewpoints San Jose.

Because the last part of the 4.1-mile loop is an ascent trail, it involves a lot of climbing at the end of your trek. Fortunately, walking is optional, as mountain bikes are also welcome on the trail. Feel the cool mountain air on your face as you breeze along in style.

Visit the trail just before it closes, when you'll be most enchanted. Just as our performers tell a story through spins, turns, and gravity-defying leaps, the sun's golden rays caress the valley transitioning from day to night.

5. Sierra Vista Trail

Take the kids on a trip into California's dreamy natural world. At only 1.9 miles long, the Sierra Vista Trail is gentle enough for the whole family. It's the perfect hike for kids to immerse themselves in nature and learn more about wildlife.

When you're done sightseeing, you can visit Alum Rock Park or the Youth Science Institute. The Sierra Vista Trail, with its vistas of San Francisco Bay, will also be incredibly inviting for adults.

Viewing areas built into the trail are designed to avoid disrupting local wildlife, so you're more likely to see deer grazing between the oaks here than around other trails.

Sanborn County Park

A haven for nature lovers and campers, Sanborn County Park takes you away from the busy city and into lush groves of redwoods. These majestic trees serve as the perfect backdrop for a morning hike.

6. Sanborn Trail

Immerse yourself in the majesty of one of the tallest trees in the world. The Sanborn Trail winds through forests of ancient Coast Redwoods, which often live up to 2,000 years. These trees give you an idea of what California looked like before cities rose and dominated the environment.

Many animals live within the redwood groves lining Sanborn Trail, and it's not uncommon to spot black-tailed deer when dusk arrives. More elusive creatures, such as bobcats and grey foxes, also call the forests home. Under the shelter of the tree canopies, nature thrives, and you'll hear it all around you through the birdsong and rustling leaves.

Los Gatos Creek

Running through the heart of the Santa Clara Valley, Los Gatos Creek traces its journey from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Guadalupe River.

7. Los Gatos Creek Trail Main Path

Many hiking trails follow the creek's path, extending from San Jose's downtown area to the hills where the creek originates.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail's main path takes you the entire distance and passes through Los Gatos and Campbell before finishing in Downtown San Jose. Not feeling up to the full walk? Why not stop at one of these historic towns for lunch or urban exploration?

During your journey, you'll also see the occasional picnic spot or playground, making Los Gatos Creek Trail ideal for families. Want to make the hike more memorable? Try skating its entire length.

Uvas Canyon County Park

A thrilling spot for outdoor adventures, Uvas Canyon County Park offers a lush retreat among dense woodlands and waterfalls.

8. Waterfall Loop Road

Discover beautiful native plants against the backdrop of waterfalls and forests full of life. Make sure you pick up one of the flora pamphlets before starting the trek along the Waterfall Loop Road. The guide helps you spot all the distinctive plants along the hike, from towering redwoods to verdant ferns.

Of course, the Waterfall Loop Trail's highlight is the abundance of waterfalls it offers. While some can be seen from a distance, you'll pass directly over others. Take the journey in the fall to see bountiful red, yellow, and orange leaves blanketing everything.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big in more than just name, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is home to some of California's oldest and tallest redwood trees. Many of these trees tower as high as the Statue of Liberty or Big Ben, dominating the skyline.

9. Redwood Grove Loop Trail

Seen from a distance, it's staggering — mind-boggling even — how tall and wide a single redwood tree is. We get what they're going for because we love to soar high up in the sky and defy conformity with our unique style of acrobatics.

Take a trip along Redwood Grove Loop Trail to see these behemoths up close, along with the lush undergrowth of ferns that line the forest floor. At less than a mile long and with just 20 ft. of elevation, Redwood Grove Loop Trail is a relaxed experience.

The enormous trees provide plenty of shade as you follow the path, making it exceptionally comfortable during the hotter seasons.

Photographer: Jeremy Bishop

Mission Peak Regional Preserve

Located in the East Bay region, Mission Peak Regional Preserve is the best place to discover spectacular views across San Jose and San Francisco.

10. Mission Peak Summit Trail

It's hard to believe there's a trail near the city where goats graze on the mountainside and hawks soar through the skies.

Mission Peak Summit Trail leads you on an adventure through this rugged, natural environment. It feels more like a trip through the Mediterranean countryside, and you'll feel like you've been transported halfway across the world.

Climb the 2,517-ft. summit. You’ll feel like you're soaring through the clouds like one of our acrobats. While the return journey takes about 5 hours, you're rewarded with sweeping, panoramic views of California's modern environment and its captivating geography.

Don't forget to commemorate your trip with a few selfies to take advantage of the glorious mountains and rolling valleys serving as your backdrop.

Mount Umunhum

Atop the glorious Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is the fourth-highest peak. It grants spectacular views of the surrounding area and a challenging hiking experience.

11. Mount Umunhum Trail

Mount Umunhum wasn't always open to the public. For 60 years throughout the Cold War, it operated as a key Air Force Radar station. But long before that, it was a sacred place for native tribes. Umunhum means "resting place of the hummingbird" to the Ohlone people, who used the mountain as a ceremonial site.

Mount Umunhum Trail isn't for the faint of heart. It's an 8-mile trek to the summit with a 1,194-foot elevation gain, but it's well worth it. Once you reach the top, you can marvel at "The Cube" — the original concrete radar tower that alerted Californians to Soviet aircraft.

Even if you don't reach the top, it's still a memorable hike, thanks to the many patches of California poppies and Indian paintbrushes that bloom throughout spring and summer.

Photographer: Ethan Dow

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

Owing in large part to the work of the Post Peninsula Open Space Trust and other wildlife conservation organizations, the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve has become a beautiful home for many animals. You can see them by hiking through the area.

12. Arrowhead Loop Trail

Imagine cycling through grasslands with clear blue skies overhead and mule deer frolicking in the distance. Arrowhead Loop Trail lets you take the scenic route through one of California's best-preserved landscapes.

As you stroll along the four-mile loop, you're flanked by Coyote Valley and the Diablo Mountain Range, and it's impossible not to admire the picturesque surroundings. Arrowhead Loop Trail also offers the unique experience of diverse habitats that transform around you during your walk.

Squirrels run and play in the open grasslands, and fierce bobcats and coyotes prowl throughout the dense oak woods. If these creatures aren't our friends, why are they friend-shaped? It's one of life's great mysteries, best pondered through admiration from a distance.

Photographer: Lance Anderson

Rancho San Antonio Preserve

Nestled by the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Rancho San Antonio Preserve allows visitors to explore nature on foot, bike, or even horseback.

Photographer: saira ahmed

13. PG&E Trail

As strange as it may seem, the PG&E Trail is indeed named after the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The company runs a utility corridor through the area. Eventually, the land was repurposed so everyone could enjoy its natural beauty.

Stretching over nine miles, the walking trail gains an elevation of 1,574 ft. by the time you loop back to its beginning. Although its length and elevation make it one of the more difficult walking trails in San Jose, the surrounding land supports many bird species. Keep an eye out for the American robin or the elusive Cooper's hawk.

14. Wildcat Canyon Loop Trail

Imagine yourself clearing the shaded woodlands to be greeted by a majestic herd of deer relaxing in the grasslands. Due to its diverse habitats, the Wildcat Canyon Loop Trail offers a haven to local wildlife. This extends to the many birds you might spot nesting within the oak trees.

Go halfway along the trail for a relaxed experience, or complete the entire loop to challenge yourself. The path ascends and descends several times throughout the journey, but these climbs give way to stunning views of South Bay. Mountain ranges also sprawl across the horizon, encompassing most of the hike.

A Final Reflection on San Jose's Trails

Sometimes, there's nothing better than a relaxing walk, especially when surrounded by breathtaking vistas and wildlife. As the year progresses and the seasons change, San Jose's environment also shifts. During the holidays, there are even Christmas events in San Jose that see its parks come to life with lights and music.

Want to know what else will thrill you through dazzling light shows and captivating music? Watching our acrobats defy gravity and perform otherworldly feats as they fly through the air. Of course, we add in a dash of surreal storytelling to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Come to one of our shows in San Jose after a long day of hiking. Your legs may be tired, but you can still let your imagination run wild! Sit back and relax while we take you on a journey beyond your wildest dreams. It's an evening you'll never forget or regret.

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