I was planning to make a routine trip to Mt. Eden Preserve (one of the locations I most frequently visit for short weekend afternoon walks with the dog). I sat down at the computer and started off looking for a map (so I would know how many miles I hiked).
The internet being what it is, I ended up hiking Parker Ranch Trail. I bet I've driven past the "trailhead" 100 times in the last 10 years (maybe 200 times) and never knew it was there. This trail meanders through the Saratoga foothills from the foot of Prospect Rd. (where you turn off from Stelling) up to Fremont Older Open Space Preserve.
It is a bit close to civilization, but not bad given that it is only 10 minutes from my house in West San Jose. It provides a more strenous climb than starting at the Fremont Older parking lot (plus, there is no problem finding a parking spot :-).
The trail starts off between houses. After a quarter of a mile or so, it heads steeply uphill (300' climb in the next quarter mile). This opens up nice views of the entire Santa Clara Valley (see pics). The trail then follows the ridgetop up another quarter of a mile before you cross and follow some residential streets. Following the trail is a bit tricky. It isn't marked well at all. I think the residents would just as soon you didn't visit at all.
Eventually you head off into the open hills, past a green water tank, and eventually up to the far southernmost edge of Fremont Older. I'd actually been to that spot a few times over the years (following trails in Fremont Older). I always wondered about the unmarked "use trail" that headed downhill from the edge of that park.
So now I know.
On the way back, I veered left before the "green water tank" (see the map). This seemed to be a pirate bike trail. I followed this all the way down to where it crossed the upper end of Parker Ranch Rd. There was some interesting mountain bike "stuff" along the way here. The official trail was parallel to what we (me and Raleigh) were walking, I think.
Once we hit the road, I went right a ways looking for the trail. Didn't see it. Reversed and went left and a short ways down Prospect Rd. That didn't pan out. Reversed course yet again and followed Parker Ranch Rd. until a trail sign marked a turnoff way down the road (half a mile?). The map shows the trail on the east side of the road but I didn't see it (although maybe it was accessible a ways down).
Anyway, the last bit is along the creek (Prospect Creek). At the bottom of this branch of the loop, cross the road and enter the subdivision (Stauffer Ranch?). There is a sidewalk that heads east, enters Seven Springs subdivision, and comes out right at the trailhead for the other branch of the loop (where my car was parked).
All in all, it was a nice walk. Usually I have to wander off-trail and bushwack to get to places I haven't been before.
BTW, it was cold! I can't remember being downdright cold in the bay area but I had on a tee-shirt, a fleece sweatshirt, and a soft-shell jacket and I was chilly. Eventually I removed the jacket, but this cold wave is something!
Hike: ~4 miles, 1000' elevation gain
2007 totals: 19 miles, 3200' elevation gain