This afternoon I decided to try a new park and went to Calero County Park, in San Jose. It’s about 30 minutes south of my home in Santa Clara to the entrance just a bit past the intersection of McKean and Bailey Roads. Unlike most of the parks in the area, Calero is equestrian and hiking only – no bikes – which means it’s pretty quiet, and you don’t run into a lot of people whizzing by. It’s also probably why it’s simply not as crowded, even on a nice Sunday. Since the quiet is a big part of why I like to go hiking, I thought this might be a good start.
I went in with the intent to follow the featured hike on bahiker.com. I have always found it weird that the site only highlights one hike, in general, per park, and I often use the site for general information before picking my own paths. However, this time I decided to go with the recommendation, which is 5.1 mile loop. Having been to the gym the previous day, my legs were a bit more worn out than usual and ended up knocking about a mile off, coming in right at 4.1 miles according to my Garmin.
If you look at the park map (PDF), starting off at the trailhead in the upper right, I followed the Los Cerritos Trail basically all the way around, by the Calero Reservoir, then turned east onto the Pena Trail, rather than west, which took me back to Los Cerritos and other than a slight mistake back to the parking lot. Had I gone the other way on the Pena trail, as indicated on the featured trail, I would’ve ended up on the Fugueroa Trail then Vallencia Trail before coming back to the Pena trail. I just didn’t have it in my legs.
The hike still was fairly tiring, though. I reached a high point of just about 800 ft at the juncture of the Pena and Cerritos Trails, though it was a steep downhill on the Pena trail from there. Getting up to 800 after the Cerritos Trail moves away from the reservior is a long, slow incline, which just wears and wears on your legs. I had to stop halfway and just let my quads and calves rest.
While one of the good things about the park is that it’s only horses and people…the horses are pretty smelly. The smell of dung is everywhere. All the time. Always. And I spent a lot of time watching where I was stepping. And when the trees did provide shade, they also provided trapped air, which meant an overpowering smell. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll be going back anytime soon. Back to Almaden…
As usual, I took time to photograph as I went, averaging about 2.5 miles per hour, which is a bit slow compared to most hikers. The trail is generally out in the open, and I was glad that the clouds were moving back and forth overhead, otherwise I’d have a pretty good sunburn right now. The views are great, too – rolling hills, big fields that produce large swatches of various colors, and more than enough overall vegetation to keep you in touch with nature.