Alum Rock Park is one of my favorite parks in San Jose. This is my mini Mission Peak hike but with fewer hikers and closer to downtown San Jose. To get to this hike take the Alum Rock Avenue exit from 680 Freeway and head for the east foothills. The Avenue passes a golf course on the left and will dead end at Alum Rock Park. Park along the street. This was the old entrance to Alum Rock Park but was closed a few years ago due to the shifting hillside.
As you face the bike and pedestrian entrance take the single track dirt trail on the left and head down into the park. After about 1/2 mile the trail ends at the main trail along Penitencia Creek which has its own park and trail system outside of Alum Rock Park. This creek cuts down the middle of Alum Rock Park and was the destination for residents in the early 1900s who took the train here from downtown. Take the trail to the right and you will soon cross a major bridge and will meet up with the paved road that goes into the park. Cross the paved road and turn right again and follow along the main road about a 100 feet until you meet up with a dirt road that takes a sharp hairpin turn to the left. Begin climbing up this road and bear to the right at the top of the first hill. You are now head toward the Eagle Peak Trail. Continue climbing and you will soon meet up with a road that will take you to the left up to Eagle Peak. Skip this and continue straight along the road another 1/2 mile to the trail sign for Todd Quick Trail on the left.
Todd Quick Trail is a loop trail and is the only entrance to the Santa Clara County Open Space area, informally called Sierra Vista, about Alum Rock Park. At the top of Todd Quick is one lonely picnic table. Behind the picnic table to the right is a gate and the entrance to the Boccardo Trail. Once you close the gate there is a large sign welcoming you to the Open Space area and with maps of the 3 mile loop trail.
I do this trail clockwise because it is steeper and a better workout. If you would like to try a slightly gentler way, take the loop trail to the right. This trail should only be done in the early morning or late afternoon during the summer months because it has no shade and is HOT! There is no water along the way so be sure to bring some with you. The trail going up is an old ranch road so is steep in sections. The new addition to the trail was built a couple of years ago and has switchbacks and is .4 miles longer so gains the 1,000 feet more gradually. This trail has great views of the Santa Clara Valley.
After completing the Boccardo Trail go back out the gate to Alum Rock Park and Todd Quick Trail and take a left on the trail. Complete the loop to the Weather Loop Trail. Take a left at the first dirt road (North Rim Trail) and continue taking left turns until you hit the paved road above the Alum Rock Park main parking lot. Follow the paved, now private road down into the main Alum Rock Park area. The road will end at a bridge. Continue over the bridge and continue straight and look for a paved road going up the hill to the right. This road climbs out and ends back at Alum Rock Avenue. Total mileage around 6 miles, 2.5 hours, 1,500 feet of climbing.