San Jose is well known for being a sprawling city. Not everybody knows that it has a surprising number of parks and hiking trails close by. Several new parks have been developed with running and hiking trails. Whether you’re looking for a short excursion or long day hike, there is an adventure for everyone close to our favorite South Bay city.
Many trails are scenic and perfect for hiking or a picnic during or after. You will get the opportunity to enjoy some of the best views in the city.
We have created a list of what we think are the top 9 hiking spots in San Jose that you should visit when you feel like being out and about in nature close to the city.
Top 9 Hiking Spots in San Jose, CA
1. Boccardo Loop
If you want to enjoy a trail with relatively low elevation gain, check out the Boccardo Loop Trail. The trail length is relatively short at 4.3 miles, but it is built inside the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, known for great views and connected to Alum Rock, another fantastic trail on the list.
Trail Length: 4.2 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 14.2 miles (24 min by car)
2. Black Mountain (via Rhus Ridge)
Black Mountain at the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve is one of the most challenging trails in San Jose, with an elevation gain of 2,500 ft. It isn’t the most accessible trail to hike, so it is most suitable for serious hikers who are prepared to venture into the exposed area without water stops along the way.
The good news is that the hard work you put into climbing will pay off when you reach the top. The views from the highest point are majestic and justify the work it takes to get there.
Trail Length: 9.2 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 18.2 miles (21 min by car)
3. Alumn Rock South Rim Trail
This trail is a moderate hike with a low elevation gain. You can run, hike, walk here year-round, even during the hot summer months, as there is plenty of shade. Bring some water when hiking, and enjoy the fantastic views!
Trail Length: 2.3 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 12.6 miles (25 min by car)
4. Wildcat Canyon Loop Trail
The Wildcat Loop Trail is an enjoyable trail located in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. It is easy to follow with an elevation gain of only 872 ft and perfect for hikers who want to take the opportunity to relax. The first portion of the trail can be very busy, but the fewer hikers you’ll encounter, the further you go. This is a great walk/hike in the spring, with wildflowers in abundance!
Trail Length: 7.2 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 13.6 miles (18 min by car)
5. Coyote Creek Trail – start at Hellyer Park
Coyote Creek Trail is located near a water body and is one of the favored trails in the area. You will have several activity options, including bird watching. The trail is quite long, making it easy to avoid crowds despite being favored by individuals and families alike. Bring water, as there is a lot of walking in full sun.
Trail Length: 23.1 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 10.3 miles (14 min by car)
6. Stevens Canyon Trail
This trail is perfect for moderately intensive hiking. The route is scenic and will give you ample opportunities to admire the beauty of nature, so take your time to enjoy the view. Park in the lot for Stevens Creek County Park North of the reservoir if you’d like to start at the intended trailhead and not have to make your way to the trail via a path at the bottom of the spillway. Bring water; it will be sunny!
Trail Length: 5.9 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 13.1 miles (21 min by car)
7. Mount Umunhum
This hike is one of our favorite ones! Be prepared for quite a workout and some crowds if going on the weekends. Mount Umunhum trail is located near the New Almaden Trail and is among the best ones on the list for some nature exploration. It has a 1,200 ft elevation, so be prepared for it to be intense, but overall, it will be an exciting hiking adventure. You’ll have a fantastic view from the top, on a clear day all the way to the ocean.
Trail Length: 7.7 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 14.8 miles (39 min by car)
8. Castle Rock State Park
It will take a little longer to get to this trail, but the drive is worth it. Castle Rock State Park is full of luscious greenery, and the trail is located near Big Bear Lake. It has the ideal forest-like feel, and the visible markings will help you stay on track. Parking is difficult, so try to get there early, especially on weekends.
Trail Length: 2.6 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 18.2 miles (30 min by car)
9. Mission Peak Loop (from Stanford Avenue Staging Area)
The Mission Peak Loop is a challenging hike – you’ll be rewarded with the best view when you make it to the top, though! You’ll see Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose on a clear day. It is not an easy hike, with a 2,135 ft elevation gain. Make sure to bring water, as you’ll be out in the direct sun for quite some time.
Trail Length: 5.8 miles – Distance from Plum Orchard Apartments: 18.7 miles (22 min by car)
Overall, hiking spots in San Jose are some of the best you will find and are perfect for people who love the activity. Many are located reasonably close to Plum Orchard Apartments! Put those hiking boots on, and enjoy the Bay Area and all it has to offer!