Masters Hill
Yerba BM
Panochita Hill
Peak 2,844ft
Antler Point
Peak 2,956ft

Thu, Mar 20, 2014
Etymology
Panochita Hill
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile
Masters Hill previously climbed Sat, Feb 27, 2010
Panochita Hill previously climbed Sat, Jan 10, 2009

As often happens, one trip to an area can inspire subsequent ones as I discover, or in this case, rediscover, the beauty of a given region. I had been to Joseph Grant County Park two days earlier for a night hike that began just after sundown. I had only a taste of the green that had come to this part of the Diablo Range before nighttime subdued the colors as evening set in. With fair skies forecast as far ahead as it is safe to do so and March winding down, it is entirely possible that we may have seen the last of any significant rain. In that case, the green hills will not last more than another month. But for now the hills are a beautiful, vibrant green and the cows that are lucky enough to graze upon them are once again happy. I covered about 22 miles on bike in 4.5hrs, making a grand loop around the park. In addition to the green, green grass, the oaks were leafing nicely, there were plenty of wildflowers in purple, yellow, orange and other colors, and the poison oak was at its most virulent with shiny new leaves. The various summits I visited are all located on the periphery of the park that was once a fine ranch estate owned by Joseph Grant. A Stanford gradulate and wealthy resident of San Jose, he entertained the likes of Leland Stanford and President Hoover, among others, at the ranch before his death in 1942.

Masters Hill

This summit is actually located about 100yds outside the park on private property. It has a fine view of San Jose to the west. There is no trail leading to the summit, but the cross-country is easy over grassy slopes, either open or through a lovely oak forest. There's a fence to cross, but it isn't hard.

Yerba BM

Like Masters Hill, this summit is on the western boundary of the park overlooking the South Bay. A trail runs right over the summit where there is a nice bench and picnic table near the benchmark.

Panochita Hill

This small summit is a rounded knob on the southern edge of the park. It provides views south to San Felipe Valley, northwest to Yerba BM and east to Mt. Hamilton. Tall trees block views north across the park. The closest you can get on trail to the summit within the park is a quarter mile from the west. You can use an old road leading to the adjacent property to the south for easy access, or with only a bit more work you can find various cross-country routes from other directions within the park. A fence runs east-west across the summit, just south of the highpoint.

Unnamed summits

The three unnamed summits, the highest in the park, are found near the east and north park boundaries. Peak 2,844ft is located about 1.5 north of the Twin Gates TH off Mt. Hamilton Rd before it drops down to the CDF fire station along Smith Creek. The park trail bypasses the summit on the west side, but it's an easy hike up grassy slopes from the road on three sides. Majestic oaks dot the ridgline running north and some of the best wildflowers in the park are located at these higher elevations.

The highest point in the park, Peak 2,999ft, is located in the northernmost corner. A nearby feature called Antler Point with a single track trail leading to its summit is to the west and about 10ft lower. Antler Point has an old wooden bench without a back for restful views to the west. The higher point to the east used to have a bench overlooking the Arroyo Honda chasm between Poverty Ridge and Mt. Day, but the bench posts have rotted and the bench fallen on its side. It still has nice views though. A short distance west and below Antler Point are the burnt remains of the Line Shack that had stood on this spot for many decades. The last time I was here a few years ago there was an ongoing effort at restoring the structure. Now, there is just debris.

About a mile south of Antler Point is Peak 2,956ft. A trail runs across its otherwise nondescript summit. From this point it was mostly downhill heading west and then south to close the loop on my ride. An old barn stands in a broad meadow near Grant Lake and the close of the ride. The park is big, one of the largest county parks in the state. There was more than 4,000ft of gain with the 22 miles I road, though I confess to not riding all of those - I pushed the bike up the steepest parts. With mostly blue skies and temperatures in the low 70s, it was a fine day, indeed.

Less fine was the $45 parking ticket I found on my window upon my return. At the start of Mt. Hamilton Rd off Alum Rock Rd is a sign that says Emergency Parking Only Next 8 Miles. I had never given this much attention before, but now I did. The 8 miles conveniently covers the whole of Mt. Hamilton Rd as it bisects the park. Better to pay the entrance fee and park in the park than take your chances.


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