New &


Bay Area Parks

Bay Area Rec & Travel

Bay Area Back Pages

Bay Area Biking

Bay Trail


Coyote Creek Trail
Trail Description

Coyote Creek Bridge

Coyote Creek Bike path, bridge over Coyote Creek near Parkway Lake, San Jose

Note: These are new Web pages based on my old Coyote Creek Trail page.

Coyote Creek

Coyote Creek is the longest creek in Santa Clara County. The creek starts its 60-mile long trek in the rugged hills of 87,000-acre Henry Coe State Park east of Gilroy. It's a wild mountain stream here that can provide whitewater boating. It then gets tamed as it fills Coyote Lake and Anderson Lake. Below Anderson Dam, the creek flows through the Coyote Valley in the Coyote Creek Parkway. Here, the hard-working creek does its job to re-charge the underground aquifers as it fills the series of percolation ponds along the way. These ponds are used for fishing and boating. Starting at Tulare Hill, the creek becomes an urban waterway, running through suburban and industrial neighborhoods in San Jose. North of San Jose, it passes through Milpitas, then enters San Francisco Bay between Alviso and Sunnyvale. Part of it flows into the Coyote Creek Lagoon in Fremont

Coyote Creek Trail Description

The Coyote Creek Trail is a 15-mile long, paved, mostly level multi-use trail that runs along Coyote Creek from South San Jose, through the Coyote Valley, and ends near Anderson Lake County Park in Morgan Hill. (See here for a trail map.) It's a popular trail for walkers, bikers, equestrians, and skaters. A large part of it is through rural areas, but it is a well-developed trail. There are parks, picnic tables, benches, and rest areas along the way, as well as emergency phones. It provides urban dwellers at its northern end an escape route into the country at its southern end. Its north end, at least the part under county parks jurisdiction, begins in Coyote Hellyer County Park, near the velodrome. (The section under San Jose city parks jurisdiction is described in the New and Future Developments page.)  In Coyote Hellyer Park, the trail crosses the creek, goes under the Hellyer Avenue bridge, follows along a deep and shady part of Coyote Creek, and arcs around Cottonwood Lake. 223-acre Coyote Hellyer is a popular urban park, with tree-shaded picnic areas, lawns, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, an off-leash dog run, and playgrounds. The Ed Steffani Velodrome is an Olympic-sized rink for bicycle racing. Cottonwood Lake, a former rock quarry, is planted with trout in the cooler months. A separate path circles around the lake.
North end of the Coyote Creek Trail, Coyote Hellyer County Park Cottonwood Lake, Coyote Hellyer County Park

Leaving Coyote Hellyer Park, the trail goes under Hwy 101, passes by a new disc golf course (run by the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club), and runs through a deeply-shaded segment along the backyards of some of the southernnmost high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley. This is the Edenvale area, where new industrial buildings are popping up like wildflowers. Where the trail runs close to creek-level, the high water table has caused the tree roots to form speed bumps in the trail. These natural speed bumps can be found at several stretches along the trail. A bridge over the creek leads to Shady Oaks Park, a San Jose city park with picnic areas and playing fields, on Coyote Road. At Silver Creek Valley Road, you can depart from the trail and take the road up the hill, passing through the exclusive Silver Creek development and enter the Evergreen Valley, where the Silver Creek Trail is being built. The trail passes under Silver Creek Valley Road, crosses over the creek on an old bridge, then comes to a large dirt parking lot, which is a popular access point just off Hwy 101. Continuing south, the Coyote Creek Trail passes by some old fruit orchards and eucalyptus-lined percolation ponds.

Disk Golf Course east of Hwy 101, north of Coyote Creek Bridge from Coyote Creek Trail to Shady Oaks Park

At Silicon Valley Blvd., the trail passes behind the Holiday Inn, which has a restaurant if you're hungry and not too dusty. For fast food, go west on Bernal Road to the shopping centers near Santa Teresa Blvd., but be careful of the gauntlet of freeway on and off-ramps. If you continue west on Bernal Road, you'll enter Santa Teresa County Park. A bridge over Coyote Creek at Silicon Valley Blvd. leads east and south to the new Basking Ridge housing development. A multi-use paved nature trail parallels the road there for awhile. Instead of turning south towards Basking Ridge, you could go straight onto Piercy Road, which follows along the hills through one of the last remaining rural areas in Silicon Valley, passing by horse ranches, greenhouses, and orchards. However, the rural nature of this area is fast-disappearing as industrial development takes over former farmland. Piercy Road ends up back at Silver Creek Valley Road near Coyote Creek.

South of Silicon Valley Blvd., the Coyote Creek Trail ducks under Hwy 85 and 101, and passes by new subdivisions. It skirts Metcalf Park, a San Jose city park, which has lawns, a playground, basketball courts, picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking fountains, making it a good place for a rest stop. The trail continues alongside a series of percolation ponds, including one used for water-skiing. A wide gravel path, which parallels the paved trail, runs on top of a levee by the percolation ponds. The trail then crosses over Coyote Creek near Parkway Lake. Parkway Lake is an excellent fishing spot, where no state fishing license is required. It's heavily planted with trout in the winter, catfish in the summer, and a few large sturgeon for an extra thrill.

Coyote Creek South of the Silicon Valley Blvd. Bridge  Playground and picnic areas at Metcalf Park
Parkway Lakes
Percolation Pond with water skier, view from dirt levee trail Parkway Lake, San Jose

Near Parkway Lake, the Coyote Creek Trail runs along the edge of Monterey Road. Here is the Coyote Narrows, where the Santa Teresa Hills and the east foothills converge. West of Monterey Road is Tulare Hill, which sits like a cork in the bottle of the Coyote Narrows. North of it is the highly urbanized Silicon Valley. South of it is the rural Coyote Valley. Grass-covered, nearly treeless Tulare Hill is cloaked in wildflowers in the spring. Despite its innocuous appearance, it has marked a battleground between pro and anti-development forces. On its southeast corner, is the site of the controversial and under construction Metcalf Energy Center. The towers of the power plant can be seen through the trees on the trail. South of Tulare Hill is the site of the Coyote Valley Research Park. Plans are being made to develop the Coyote Valley, starting here. On the north side of Tulare Hill, the Coyote-Alamitos Canal levee ends. The levee is a proposed route for the Coyote-Alamitos Canal Trail leading along the Santa Teresa Hills to the Alamitos Creek Trail.

South of Metcalf Road, the trail enters the Coyote Valley. You can cross Metcalf Road and continue on the trail or cross Monterey Road at the Metcalf Road intersection and take it south to the tiny farming community of Coyote. The Coyote Bait and Tackle Shop is there and is one of the best places in the South Bay for fishing gear and information on local fishing conditions. They also have drinks and snacks. Across Monterey Road is the old Coyote Inn Stage Stop and the Coyote Grange Hall. The safest way to get back to the Coyote Creek Trail is to head south to Bailey Avenue, cross Monterey Highway, and take it back north to a trail access path a little north of Encinal School. You can also take Monterey Road farther north to Coyote Ranch Road. The trail passes by Coyote Ranch, which is an historic ranch now used for corporate and group picnics and barbecues, with an old-fashioned country atmosphere.

Coyote Ranch Horses by Coyote Creek Trail
Coyote Ranch, Coyote Valley Horses by Coyote Creek Trail

From there the trail passes by a fenced dog training area belonging to the South County Schutzhund Club. Just past it, the trail crosses the creek, then runs along a large pond before dipping down to cross the creek again. The trail passes by ranches, sunny open fields, fruit tree-laden orchards, and the swanky new Coyote Creek Golf Club. There's a sycamore-shaded rest stop near the golf course. You can enter the golf course itself and stop at the country club for a meal or drinks. The golf course used to be the old Riverside Golf Course before it was revamped and enlarged into a Jack Nicklaus-designed 36-hole course. The former main entry to the Riverside Golf Course crosses the trail. It is now a back entrance to the new golf course, whose grand entrance is via an off-ramp from Hwy 101.

Coyote Creek Trail
Coyote Creek trail crossing Coyote Creek Trail near a percolation pond in the Coyote Valley

South of the golf course, the trail runs through more open fields past large reed-lined percolation ponds (the Ogier Quarry Ponds). You can go fishing in these ponds, but catching is another matter. Past Ogier Avenue, the trail passes by an R/C airplane field, the Santa Clara County Model Airplane Skypark, run by the Tomcats R/C airplane club. There are bleachers and restrooms here. This is a good place to stop for a rest and an airshow, as you watch the fast, agile planes do their showy aerobatics. During scheduled airshows, they sell snacks here.

RC plane field near Morgan Hill
R/C model airplane club field north of Anderson Dam

The trail follows along a wide portion of the creek. It passes under Hwy 101 and enters a complex of dirt and paved trails near Anderson Dam. The paved trail crosses Coyote Creek on a wide bridge, runs through an old orchard, and ends in the middle of a subdivision at Morningstar Drive near Malaguerra Avenue. You can take Malaguerra to Cochrane Road, which leads to Anderson Lake County Park. The tree-shaded park here has picnic areas and playing fields along some of the most scenic stretches of Coyote Creek. The creek below Anderson Dam is planted with trout in season. You can take a steep road to the top of Anderson Dam to see the reservoir.  Anderson Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Santa Clara County and can be an excellent warm-water fishery. In the wintertime, during particularly heavy rainy seasons, Anderson Dam can spill, producing the most spectacular waterfall in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, it also tends to flood the creek, closing and sometimes damaging the trail.

Falls at Anderson Dam, 2/15/'98
End of the Coyote Creek Trail, Morgan Hill Falls at Anderson Dam spillway, Feb. '98

From Anderson Dam, you can head back north along the Coyote Creek Trail. Keep in mind that the afternoon winds tend to blow south, so you can face a constant stiff headwind heading back. You might consider starting the trip at Anderson Dam and heading north, so you head downwind on the return trip. Either that, or arrange for a car shuttle. Alternatively, you can take Cochrane Road west and head back north on Monterey Road, along a stretch that used to be called "Blood Alley" before the Hwy 101 bypass was built, but it's about as pleasant as riding on a freeway. Santa Teresa Blvd is an alternate route, which can reached by taking Tilton Avenue west off Monterey Road. It's a straight, fast, 2-lane country road that runs by several farms and nurseries. Just past Bailey Avenue, it widens out and rises over a low hill. All of a sudden, you drop into the edge of the sea of suburbia at the southern tip of the Silicon Valley, and you're back to civilization. You could take Santa Teresa Blvd. to the Santa Teresa Light Rail Station and take the trolley to the Alamitos Creek Trail.

More Information



Created 1/13/03, updated 12/26/04 by Ronald Horii

1 1