A Hike at Alum Rock

We spent a glorious Sunday afternoon hiking at Alum Rock Park in San Jose. We should be sheltering from the rain this time of year, but our drought continues. So instead, we enjoyed the dry, warm conditions and the chance to spend an afternoon outdoors.

Looking down from one of the many bridges in the park

Alum Rock is a treat for the senses. Sulfur springs still move through the hills, delivering the unmistakable aroma as you hike the trails. Further up, the paths are shaded and cool, with that rich mix of forest smells.

Grotto
Mineral springs flows beneath the grotto

Here is a bit of history of this iconic park:

Alum Rock Park was founded in 1872 and is one of California’s oldest municipal parks. Nestled within the Alum Rock Canyon in the foothills of the Diablo Range, the Park’s 720 acres of natural, rugged beauty, provide visitors with many leisure outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, family and group picnicking, and of course just relaxing.

From 1890 to 1932 the park was a nationally known health spa with 27 mineral springs, an indoor swimming pool, tea garden, restaurant, and dance pavilion. At the time you could ride from downtown San Jose to the park on the Alum Rock Steam Railroad, a ride that cost a quarter. Today, remnants of the railroad bridges can be seen, some of the stone grottos that contain mineral springs are still accessible, but now the charms of the park focus on nature, wildlife, and hiking.

City of San Jose

I’m always intrigued by the rock formations. They’re quite beautiful and varied, composed of minerals dating back to the Jurassic age.

Mineral springs flow from the mountain side

Aren’t they something?

We meandered along the path, with my ever-patient husband willing to stop along the way so I could take photos.

Mike enjoying the day

I had fun crossing a few bridges, but I had to hold my breath crossing a short, narrow ledge. For the most part though, it was a gentle climb.

Arched stone bridge and stairs
Pedestrian truss bridge
Wildflowers above a stream

A few blooming wildflowers caught my eye, the yellow ones, above, and this white Oxalis.

Oxalis
A squirrel in the sun

There were no bobcats or rattlesnakes along the path, but I spotted this cute squirrel toward the end of our hike. From a distance he blended into the rocks.

With my sweetie, married 26 years

A few final photos of the day:

Hiking Alum Rock has been a highlight of the month. We’re so lucky to live just seven miles from this gem.

24 thoughts on “A Hike at Alum Rock

  1. Yes, yes! Happy anniversary! What a lovely picture of you two. And what a fascinating area. I really enjoyed seeing the way the minerals have blended with the rocks. Wonderful bridges, and how good it was that you didn’t come across any rattlesnakes. Yikes! You two are braver hikers than I am.

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    • Thank you, Laurie. I’m not sure why I put years married in that caption, as our anniversary is in September. Just musing, I think of happy we are together. The blending of minerals and rocks intrigue me, especially when I think that the happened over thousands and thousands of years. It’s humbling. I know two women who’ve been bitten by rattlesnakes. One spent two weeks in the hospital, and ther other had to be airlifted off a hill. They have my full respect. As long as you stay on the paths you’re probably fine, but you have to remain aware.

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  2. HAPPY 26th ANNIVERSARY!! Here’s to many, many more for the two of you. I love that park and it is just stunning with all the rock formations, springs and the stone bridge is my favorite. I think I know now why I don’t hike. All the years we lived in Georgia with every kind of snake imaginable, I really don’t want to go anywhere they are near. They are valuable in nature so I leave that to them. 🙂 I think I’m a bit of a coward where snakes are concerned. Lizards for some reason don’t bother me. Looks like you both had a great time though. Hugs to you both.

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    • Thank you, Marlene! I know Laurie has had snakes get into her house before, and I followed a blogger years ago that had similar issues. The most spectacular experience I’ve had with a snake, was stopping in my tracks, along with several hikers, when a three foot snake slowly made it’s way across the path. We all somehow knew it wasn’t venomous, but we paid due respect and let it make its way into the tall grass beyond. I imagine living in Georgia would be quite an experience. Hugs back your way.

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  3. Happy anniversary, Alys! What a nice way to spend the day, wandering in all that beauty (though maybe not beautiful in the olfactory sense, always). The beautiful old bridges and the rock formations are a treat. It would be a regular walking spot for me if I lived there. Thanks for taking us along and for the great pic’s of you and Mike.

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    • Thank you so much, Lisa. This park is a gem. I read about seventy pages of a typed document detailing all the history, from a hotel and spa, to the various minerals found on the site. Interestingly, I don’t mind the sulfar, perhaps because I’m outside.

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  4. What a fun way to spend the day. 65F would seem about perfect for hiking. Not too warm but good nuff for short sleeves. After that crazy weather at the beginning of January, we’ve gotten quite mild days happening. The snow melts a bit, but then turns to ice. So I’ve got out these old ugly boots that have good grip. LOL, safety first.

    I’d just enjoy seeing the green everywhere! That’s what I miss most in winter. Good eye spotting the squirrel ! He looks well fed, hehe. Glad he hasn’t met up with any snakes. Do you have coyote’s there? We sure do and they’ve been so vocal. The other afternoon, I happen to be outside when a fire truck alarm made them howl. It was so freaky because you normally only hear them at night. They sounded so close.

    You two make a cute pair, sweet photo !! I’m betting you slept well that night after all the ‘not so fresh’ air. The water looks refreshing too. 💗🥰😍

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  5. Coming back to all things blog after a hiatus, so sorry for the late response! You two look adorable, and I can only hope the Husband and I look so happy when we hit 26 years. It’s only our 10th next year, so a ways to go yet… That park looks amazing, and I think you must have had a really lovely day, perfect weather and perfect companion.

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  6. What a beautiful space! and I can’t believe that a municipal park has over 700 acres. Just awesome! and I love those photos of you and of Mike, and the one of you together is wonderful! I love that you all were able to get out for some time with nature … always soothing and restorative!

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    • Thank you, LB. It is restorative and as long as my hips hold up, I hope to do more. I went down the rabbit hole and ready over 90 pages of a report about the park. It’s amazing what you might not know in your proverbial “back yard.”

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