Grant Ranch Park Lake to Antler Point

Hike facts:  From Grant Lake to Antler Point and back in a reverse figure eight (map shows 9.6 miles, GPS recorded 10.9 miles).  1900 feet of cumulative elevation gain.   4.5 hours hike with only a brief stop for lunch.  Trail map of Joseph Grant Ranch Park.

Yesterday I led a hike for Loma Prieta Sierra Singles and managed to get three hikers to join me in a moderately paced hike in Grant Ranch Park just below Mt. Hamilton.  We began the hike from the parking lot 1/4 mile past the main entrance on the left side of the road.  Radio Ham operators were setting up in the parking lot and a few road bikers were hanging out before making the climb up the road.  It was a perfect sunny and cool day for the hike.  I had reminded folks that we were hiking to 3,000 feet so it might be cooler at the top and it was often windy.

We  headed out along Grant Lake and after 1/2 took the Halls Valley Road up the hill.  The hike is almost all on ranch roads although the park refers to them as “trails.”  Except for the short single track to the point, all roads also allow dogs on leashes.  Most of the climbing for this hike occurs in the first half of the hike.  Half way up the road we saw three wild pigs on the next hill, it didn’t take long to find one of their hangouts which was a wet spot along the road that was worn down with pig tracks.  Wild pigs have long been a problem in this park.  At the top the trail meets up with Canada de Pala Trail and you take a left turn and gradually climb up the road toward the point.  Another road intersects in a mile but stay to the right on Pala Seca Trail.  There was signs of control burning along this section — there should be great wildflowers here next spring!  Continue on the road until you reach a single track trail that will take you the last 1/2 mile to Antler Point.  In a previous writeup I said the point was really on a faded trail to the right overlooking the east.  This is really an old volunteers hangout.  The real point is somewhere below the bench at the top.  Have lunch here and enjoy the view but be prepared for some wind.

Returning we backtracked to the road and made a right turn and headed down to the hunting cabin that is being restored by a volunteer.  There is a writeup on the wall about President Hoover visiting to fish in the area.  The cabin also has a picnic table on the porch which is a good alternate lunch stop if the point is too cold.  Continue down Canada de Pala Trail and you will notice some work being down in a meadow to the left.  This wetland high meadow is being restored by the county.  Here we spotted a coyote hunting the plentiful ground squirrels.

You soon pass and intersection to the right to Washburn Trail but continue on the same road until you meet up again with Pala Seca Trail.  Head back down to the right, staying on Canada de Pala Trail.   Pass the Halls Valley Road until you come to the Los Huecos Trail.  Head down the road on the right.  This road is steep in spots.  We saw a nice looking four-pointed buck here who didn’t seem to mind us.  At the bottom you meet back up with the Halls Valley Road.  Turn left and complete your hike back to the parking lot.

I love this hike because of the open hills and great views.  It is also a pretty good workout with 1900 feet of climbing and 9.6 to 10 miles.  I don’t believe the GPS reading of 10.9 but I will have to try it again.  If you add up the mileage on the County park map above it is 9.6 miles.

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Antler Point in Grant County Park

Grant County Park is located below Mt. Hamilton and is my favorite Santa Clara County Park to hike.  Antler Point is the highest point in the park, just a little under 3000 feet.  This hike begins at the Grant Lake Parking Lot just a half mile beyond the main park entrance and on the left.  Five hours with short breaks.

Hike description:  11-12 miles, 2400 elevation gain.  Most elevation gain is in the first 3 miles of the hike.   Around 4 miles to Antler Point hiking counter-clockwise.  Spring is best time for the hike because the hills are green and full of wildflowers.

Hike .3 miles along the lake to the  Halls Valley trailhead on the right.  The trail soon climbs and climbs.  Slow and study is the best way to make it the 2.1 miles to the top to the Canada de Pala Trail.  If you want less elevation gain like most folks, you can start this hike at Twin Gates Parking Lot and head straight down the Canada de Pala Trail.  But I like to get more exercise so I start down at Grant Lake.  Take a left on the Canada de Pala Road.  Hike .3 miles to the Pala Seca Trail and bear right to stay up on the ridge.  You continue to climb but more gradually now as you reach the ridge that will climb to Antler Point.  At 1.3 miles you will come to an intersection with a bench in the middle of the Y, above the road to the left.  Take the trail behind the bench and hike around .1 miles just beyond the first hill where you will see a faint trail cutting back to the right and heading to a small ridge to the east.  This is actually the real trail to Antler Point.  The more worn trail ahead goes to a great vista point overlooking San Jose to the west, but it is not Antler Point.  Antler Point overlooks the canyon to the east and has a broken down bench and rock outcropping.  It is a short distance from the trail junction.  It wasn’t until recently, and six hikes later, that I learn I had missed the point every time I hike the trail!

Backtrack and head over to the vista point.  It is often windy at the vista point so you may want to stop for lunch at Antler Point, on the eastside, instead.   Backtrack again and take a right at the bench and turn right to the Canada de Pala Trail and down to the hunter’s cabin.  This cabin was once used by the owners as a hunting cabin and is being restored by volunteers.  If you hike this in rain or on a hot day there is a picnic table on the side porch of the cabin.  Continue down the trail and past the meadow marsh that is being restored by removing invasive plants and shoring up the creek.  This is a rare high meadow marsh for this area.

You will soon come to the intersection with Washburn Trail but stay on the road and continue around the meadow.  You will pass the intersection with the Pala Seca Trail that you took earlier.  Continue to the right on the Canada de Pala pass the trailhead to Halls Valley and soon passing the Los Huecos Trail.   If you are tired at this point you can head down Huecos Trail and complete a 9.6 mile trip.  However, today I felt ambitious so continue on Canada de Pala.  My plan was to stay on this trail until the Yerba Buena Trail but I soon grew tired with the ridge road so after about .3 miles I started following the cattle trail to the right of the road that was bisecting the hills of the trail.  The land is open in this part of the park and it is easy to do a bit of cross county hiking.  I spotted a windmill and decided to continue to follow the cattle trail down to the watering hole.  From here I spotted the Yerba Buena Trail to the south so continued on a cattle trail until it met up with the Trail.  I figure this was about .25-.5 miles below the intersection with Canada de Pala which I was initially going to take.  If you are uncomfortable going on cow trails, stay on the road instead.  From here I headed down Yerba Buena Trail to the Loop Trail to check out McCreery Lake.  Connected back to Yerba Buena and finished back at the parking lot.