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.
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.
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.
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.
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.