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Hike of the Month...Grant Ranch County Park

The Trail Companion

February/March 1997

Hike of the Month...Grant Ranch County Park

     by Matt Noall

Nestled along the slopes of Mount Hamilton, Grant Ranch County Park offers a variety of hiking terrain. The trails are old ranch roads which makes for easy footing and manageable slopes. Our 6-mile hike starts near the park headquarters. Access the Dutch Flat plateau by using the Dairy Trail, located off the road near the corrals. You'll come to a fork where you'll veer off the Dairy Trail (upper fork) and onto the Dutch Flat Trail. The trail rises about 1000 feet in vertical elevation At this point the hike offers a panoramic view of the East San Jose area and the park itself. There is a picnic bench near at the top.
      After climbing to the top, the trail winds along the top of the ridge and gradually loses elevation towards the valley. The trail follows along the park boundary. After a few miles, we join the Canada de Pala trail. Follow this trail along until you reach a trail junction. Take the Hotel Trail to Circle Corral and head back to the parking lot. Follow the trail past the old Snell Barn where a trail exists between the two sides of the valley. This area is inundated with prickly thistles, so beware! I was once on this trail, up to my armpits in thistles, while a small pack of wild pigs came running alongside the barn fence.
      The trail continues along until you reach the Rose Garden at the old ranch house, which now serves as the park visitor center. The Rose Garden is still maintained by the park. The parking lot is next to the visitor center.
      This is a good hike for the fall to spring months since it's too hot in the summer. The hike offers a good view of Lick Observatory as the trail winds through the grassland, scrub trees and cattle-forage areas. Cattle sometimes can be seen along the trail since the local ranchers have grazing contracts with the county park.
      This hike is based upon Hike #6 in Spangle and Rusmore's book, South Bay Trails.

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