Chips Ahoy!

Grant Ranch County Park
Grant Ranch County Park
Length/configuration : 2.5- and 9.6-mile loops.
Aerobic difficulty : Long ride is hilly; some ascents are short but steep.
Technical difficulty : Moderate Longer loop has hills withloose dirt and rocks.
General Location : Just south of San Jose.
Elevation Change : Parking is at 1,600' and the trail drops down to 1,400' at Circle Corral. From here, the trail climbs to 2,080' at Eagle Lake. After a short descent, the trail gains its summit at 2,600' before dropping back down to 1,600'. Total elevation change for the longer loop is 1,280'. The shorter, 2.5-mile option only changes by a total of approximately 200'.
Season : Grant Ranch has mild winters and hot summers. Rainy weather in the winter usually makes the trails too muddy to ride, but as drier spring weather arrives, the hillsides are lush, green, and dotted with California poppy (the state flower) and wild mustard. When summer arrives, the hills turn golden brown and the temperatures rise. Carry plenty of water and ride early in the day. Fall brings the beauty of the oak leaves changing, and cooler temperatures that make riding more comfortable.
Services : Water and rest rooms are available at the trailhead. For grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels, return to Tully Road and US 101.
Hazards : Remember to yield to both horses and hikers. Slow down around blind curves because someone might be coming the other way.
Rescue Index : Mountain bikers are required to wear a helmet when riding in this park. Trails are patrolled by rangers on mountain bikes and they'll give you a ticket for not protecting your head. If you need help on the trail, return to the Visitor Center for assistance.
Land Status : Santa Clara County parkland.
Maps : There is an excellent free map available at the Visitor Center. Trails and mileage are marked.

Grant Ranch County Park has some beautiful riding but is hilly and can get very hot in the summer. Two loops are suggested 2.5 or 9.6 miles long but many combinations are possible. The trails open to mountain bikes in this park are wide fire roads, mostly dirt with some gravel. Certain areas can get very muddy so trails are closed for 48 hours after a heavy rain. The longer loop has several tough hills. On the first hill, the dirt is loose and the trail is rutted. The next rough section is on the Digger Pine Trail, which becomes quite rocky with a number of short but steep ascents. All longer rides in this park are hilly and trail conditions vary from year to year.

Grant Ranch County Park is located in the Hamilton Mountains just below the Lick Observatory. If you're curious about astronomy, ride or drive up to the observatory for a free tour. If you enjoy bird-watching, check out the reservoir, which attracts many birds including kestrels, kingfishers, killdeer, wood ducks, juncos, and hawks. For a complete bird list, stop at the Visitor Center.

Finding the trail: Just south of where 1-280 and 1-880 merge into US 101, take the Tully Road exit heading east. Turn right on Quimby and follow it as it becomes a small two-lane road. Quimby climbs up and over a steep hill and intersects with Mount Hamilton Road in approximately 4 miles. Turn right, and right again into the park. There's a $3 day-use fee. Park near the Hotel Trail and Visitor Center.

Notes on the trail: Beginning at the Visitor Center, go through the two livestock gates to the start of the Hotel Trail. After 0.2 miles, veer right onto the Lower Hotel Trail at the Circle Corral. For the shorter loop, turn left and return to the Visitor Center. To continue on the longer loop, turn right into the trees, where the trail immediately begins to climb. In 1.75 miles is Eagle Lake, 680' higher than Circle Corral. Take a break at this very pretty spot.

You'll resume the longer ride by heading left at Eagle Lake. A quick descent takes you down into a canyon where the Digger Pine Trail follows the stream. One mile past Eagle Lake, turn left onto the Bohnhoff Trail and start another steep climb. The trail levels off along the ridge before a quick descent to Mount Hamilton Road. There are gates on either side of the road; please shut the gates after passing through them. After another climb you'll be rewarded with a superb 360-degree view.

You can add an extra 2 miles by doing the Canada de Pala to the Pala Seca Trail and looping back to the Los Huecos Trail. However, if you're ready to call it a day, continue onto the Los Huecos Trail, and turn left there for a descent to the reservoir. This is a great spot for bird-watching. At Mount Hamilton Road, turn left, and very soon turn right through a gate to return to the parking area.

View: Trail Map


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