Alum Rock
Eagle Rock

Fri, Jan 13, 2017

With: Steve Sywyk
Tom McClaughry

Etymology
Alum Rock
Eagle Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
Eagle Rock previously climbed Tue, Dec 31, 2013

There are only a few easily reached summits in Santa Clara County that have escaped my attention, Alum Rock being one of these. This small, rocky feature overlooking Penitencia Creek in eastern San Jose is in the center of the city park by the same name. I have been to the park dozens of times over the years but somehow missed a visit to this feature. The maintained trails all avoid it but there is a use trail that nicely reaches it without the need for bushwhacking or tangling with poison oak, abundant in the park. On Fridays when I'm home I typically join Steve and Tom for a picnic lunch hike which is a thinly veiled excuse to drink in public places. Having described this in some detail previously, I'll not go into specifics on that. I found a GPX track on peakbagger.com that made about 5mi while tagging Alum Rock and Eagle Rock in a loop. It would do nicely. There had been a series of pretty strong storms roll through the state like we haven't seen in some years, and this was the first day of blue skies since the deluge had begun more than a week earlier. Penitencia Creek, normally a tiny stream of clear water in wintertime, was a roiling tempest of brown, muddy water and still only a fraction of when it had peaked during the storms. The creek had overflowed its banks, muddying trails and parklands, causing some minor landslides that closed portions of the trail system but otherwise looked to have caused no major damage. Our tour eventually took us across the creek to the north side where it was sunnier and the trails drier. We followed the North Rim Trail which, despite its name, doesn't actually follow along the rim which is more than a thousand feet higher, but it does provide a nice overlook of the park.

Just past the junction with the Eagle Rock Trail, the N. Rim Trail skirts above Alum Rock on the north side. A use trail drops down a grassy slope from the main trail to the base of the rock formation. Some easy class 3 scrambling gets one to the summit with about 20ft of prominence. Steve joined me at the summit but Tom decided the halfway point was good enough. It was a bit windy and chilly at the top but the halway point, sunnier and protected from the wind, made a better picnic site. In usual fashion, we drank the two bottles of wine first before partaking of the other picnic goods which included various cheeses, fruit, bread and hummus. Mmm. Afterwards, we packed up and headed back, first making a detour to visit Eagle Rock, overlooking the Santa Clara Valley (which would also make a good picnic site). Not a bad way to spend a Friday...


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