I preface today’s column with a disclaimer: I am not an “outdoors” person. I have been camping a few times, as a guest of others. I have an appreciation of nature, but I was raised in the suburbs of Santa Clara and San Jose—where I still reside and planning to comfortably spend the rest of my days.
As a kid and well into my teens I spent a lot of time riding a bicycle. It was a means of transportation for my suburban life. Occasionally, some of us Hudson Drive boys would ride off to Stevens Creek Dam or to San Jose Airport, both of which took a few hours and were “adventures” on summer days.
I was once an avid runner and actually didn’t own a bicycle for over a decade. But I injured my foot and had to take care of my fitness needs in another way. In 1985, I purchased a Peugeot bicycle. I still ride that bike, though I also have a road bike. We live in Blossom Valley, so this bike got a lot of use. A ride a few miles south puts me in the rural Coyote Valley and this leads to many other roads, which are largely free of cars and, hence, safer for bicycles.
During those early years, I discovered the Coyote Creek Trail. This trail provides a nice round trip of about 30 miles. If I head north, it goes an additional several miles before ending at Tully Road. Over the years I have discovered many other trails and I suggest that if you have not yet explored them—either hiking, walking, skating, or cycling—you should make it a point to do so.
Thanks to the work of the staff of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, and under the recent leadership of trails manager Yves Zsutty, the entire trail system has undergone an amazing transformation. This work has been done in concert with nearby cities, Santa Clara County staff and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
San Jose has 54 miles of its own trails, with more planned. The Guadalupe River Trail is now paved from downtown to Alviso, offering cyclists a 20-mile round trip. The only problem I have is that there are a few breaks where I need to access the trail that runs along Highway 87 and then negotiate some city streets between Willow Street and Virginia Street, where the Guadalupe Trail begins.
To the west of these trails is the Los Gatos Creek Trail, which connects Los Gatos through Campbell and on to San Jose, where it ends at Meridian Avenue. The best news, though, is that we are very close to connecting all of these pieces to create a transportation and recreation trail network that will rival any American community. In fact, USA Today recently named Los Gatos Creek Trail one of the nation’s best trails.
James P. Reber is the executive director of San Jose Parks Foundation, a veteran nonprofit entrepreneur and experienced special event planner and producer. He can be reached at [email protected] or 408.893.PARK.