Rock It

Hike to Baccardo Lookout Point at Alum Rock Park in San Jose

Nestled in the eastern hills of San Jose is the oldest municipal park in California: Alum Rock Park. Serving as public land since 1777, the park once contained its own railway, a restaurant, and a mineral hot spring bathhouse. Today it’s a place for locals to gain easy access to the great outdoors, including this 6-mile loop to the Baccardo Lookout Point.

Hiker on a trail at Alum Rock Park in San Jose

Person at bench overlooking San Jose at Alum Rock

Park in the Eagle Rock parking lot, and cross the street to the Penitencia Creek Trailhead. This dirt path leads up to the North Rim Trail, a route that’s popular with both hikers and cyclists. Clumps of blue-tinted sagebrush add a splash of color. At the intersection with the Todd Quick Trail, turn left to begin a steep ascent into the hills. A series of switchbacks eases the journey as hikers gain enough elevation to catch a view of San Jose far below.

Turn left at the next intersection to enter the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. From here, hikers have a steep climb up the Boccardo Loop Trail. The loop can be hiked in either direction, but a clockwise loop (turn left at the intersection) offers a beautiful view of Lick Observatory on the ascent. About a mile after turning onto the loop, the short Boccardo spur leads hikers to the hilltop. At 1,906 feet high, this scenic spot is a perfect place for a picnic overlooking Silicon Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Person standing at the summit of Boccardo Loop Trail in Alum Park San Jose

Mountain biker on trail passing by a picnic area at Alum Rock Park in San Jose

Hikers on wide open trail at Alum Rock Park in San Jose

Continue along the Boccardo Loop until you return to the Todd Quick Trail. Turn left at this intersection to enjoy a self-guided nature walk. This stretch of trail includes placards describing the native flora in each area.

Couple taking a selfie picture at Alum Rock Park in San Jose with mountains and rolling hills in the background

To return to the parking lot, turn right onto Weather Loop, then right onto the North Rim Trail, and retrace your steps all the way back to the Eagle Rock parking lot.

Alum Rock Park is located at 15350 Penitencia Creek Rd., San Jose. From I-680 N, take the McKee Rd. exit. Turn left onto Toyon Ave., then right onto Penitencia Creek Rd. into the park. The park is open from 8 a.m. until a half hour after sunset. There is a $6 parking fee. No dogs.

Story and photos by Poe Casavant

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