An Amazing Inventory: San Jose Parks and Trails

Like many people who were raised in Santa Clara Valley, before it was Silicon Valley, I spent my youth playing a lot of baseball, bicycling, running, shooting hoops and hanging out with friends at our local park. I took for granted that this magical place was always here for me. And with some of the world’s nicest weather, my neighborhood park was an integral part of my childhood. In my teens, I changed the activities, but still spent hours on courts and fields with friends and fellow athletes playing pick-up games of one sort or another.

As an adult, I came to greater appreciate the world of parks and recreation, trails and fields, as I began to understand the vision it took to construct a parks system. Now, after running the San Jose Parks Foundation and spending the last few years learning about parks and trails across the United States, I have an even greater appreciation of what we have here in San Jose. It is a vast and amazing world, our parks and trails, and I am grateful to those visionaries, civic leaders and the scores of civil servants who cared enough to do such a good job. Let’s review what they created.

San Jose’s parks and trails are truly vast, containing a wide variety of locations, terrain, flora and fauna, historical edifices and relics, artistic works, statuary and a wide variety of playing fields, courts, running tracks and cycling trails (some of which are also transportation corridors), rivers, creeks, skate parks, dog parks, community gardens, farmland, picnic tables, barbecues, slides, swings, climbing structures and children’s playgrounds of all sizes and shapes. And I am certain I have missed several key items.

When taking inventory of this system of parks and trails, the numbers are somewhat staggering, at least from the last accounting I received. There are approximately 2,884 acres of parkland that include: 80,000 square feet of skate park, 200-plus neighborhood parks, 200-plus playgrounds, 100 volleyball and basketball courts, 94 sports fields, 80 tennis courts, 55 community centers, 54-plus miles of trail, 50-plus horseshoe pits, 30-plus exercise courts, nine regional parks, nine swimming pools, six dog parks and one BMX park.

Beyond the numbers, the content is wondrous. In San Jose, right now, available to you as a resident, is a trail that you may hike, walk, skate or cycle for up to 15 miles in one direction, uninterrupted by a single automobile. You have cultural areas in parks that cover just about every significant segment of San Jose’s population, including sculptures of such differing images as Confucius and Quetzalcoatl. You can visit an adobe hut, a log cabin, a barn, a small traditional Chinese hall, a tea garden and even a zoo.

Now that the weather is truly great, do yourself a favor and explore this wonderful world of San Jose parks and trails, and think about how valuable it is to have such a world available to you.

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.

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.


  1. …and while visiting any one of these magical places you might get acosted by any one of a number of assorted characters who squat in and around our parks and trails. People who have no problem letting one and all know that “this park or that park” is just as much theirs as it is ours. 

    If you are lucky you will be able to avoid the feces and urine that contaminates our parks and trails left by domesticated animals and undomesticated humans. How do you know what you have stepped in? Each has its own olfactory qualities.

    Why do I bring all of this unpleasantness up? Simple, You cannot have nice stuff in the community without adequate public safety (police, fire) to keep the people and property safe. You can’t have nice stuff without people to maintain the stuff.

    All this pie-in-the-sky community volunteer ‘it takes a village” pop-psycho babble only goes so far.
    At some point the sheep who have been guilted into contributing to Reber’s “non-profit” to further the cause will realize that they already ponied up the money to fund their guardians and folks to maintian the parks when they paid their taxes. They didn’t pay their taxes to pay for event planners to manufacture events like the State of the City Address or mayoral/councilperson inaugurations. 

    Then Mr Reber will have to figure out another way to fund the lifestyle he is accustomed to.

    • Have you actually used any of the trails or parks?  I’ve encountered homeless people on trails and amazingly enough have lived to tell the tale.

      PS you don’t have to visit the parks and trails for human waste.. there’s plenty of urine and vomit on the sidewalks downtown every weekend.

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