Overview: 4-mile hike, completely flat along the Coyote Creek Trail just south of San Jose. Dogs on leashes are allowed along this trail.
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation change: 150 feet
Hiking time: 2.5 hours
Season: All year
Getting there: Head south on Highway 101 and exit Bernal Road. Turn left on Monterey Road. Turn left on Menard Dr. and right on Forsum Rd. Park near Metcalf Park for playground access.
Alternately, if you prefer to minimize the amount of hiking time in an urban area, you can park at the Coyote Creek Lake parking lot. Follow the directions above, after turning left on Monterey Road, make a U-turn at Metcalf and follow Monterey back to the north. You’ll see the parking lot on your right.
Parking lot address:
For playground access use: Metcalf Park, Forsum Rd, San Jose, CA 95138
Otherwise, we recommend parking here: Coyote Creek Lake Parking Lot, 6242 Monterey Road, San Jose, CA
Managing agency: Santa Clara County Parks
Trail map: View online
I’ve been looking for a hike like this one on the Coyote Creek Trail for a while—one that accommodates all of our family members. My wife and I have a 2-year-old daughter and an energetic dog, so finding something that works for all of us has been a bit of a challenge.
My wife and I want to see wildlife and unplug, but our daughter needs an accessible trail that she can walk on safely. And our dog, well, she just wants to come along (dog owners should be sure to grab a copy of our Dog-friendly Hikes Guide for more options).
The Coyote Creek Trail is great for us because it’s nicely paved and lets us focus on our child’s experience without worrying about her falling. Plus, we can bring the stroller if we like. Just keep an eye out for passing bikes if your little ones are enjoying themselves on the trail.
The trailhead has a playground at Metcalf Park. For those of you with kids, I don’t think I really need to say anything else—you’re probably already sold. Our daughter runs to the swings when we end our hike, and it’s a great way to cap off the trip. The playground has an area for kids 2 to 5 years old, and another area suitable for older children.
As the name implies, this trail follows Coyote Creek, which flows just east of downtown San Jose. It’s certainly no wilderness area, but the natural qualities of the landscape outweigh the man-made ones and I feel connected with the things I’m searching for: views, birds, flowers and, this time of year, the sound of running water as the creek flows north to the Bay.
One of our favorite places to stop on this trail is the bridge that crosses Coyote Creek about a mile into the hike (see map below). It’s fun for my daughter to look down into the flowing water and get a good view of the creek’s bed. And I enjoy daydreaming about the wildlife that move through this corridor, one of the most important connections between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range.
After the bridge, the trail diverges from Monterey Highway and you get to experience Coyote Creek’s riparian habitat and the wildlife it supports. We’ve turned around in the past where the trail intersects with Coyote Ranch Road—not for any particular reason, as the trail continues a few miles to the south, but usually by this point we’re ready to make our way back to the car. But if you want to lose yourself in nature, push on. The trail follows Coyote Ranch Road to the left, and in time diverges again into secluded habitat.
I dream of one day riding bikes as a family from the Bay, past downtown San Jose into the wide-open spaces of Coyote Valley. Today, the Coyote Creek Trail is only 70% complete, but one day it will offer a 30-mile experience right here in our backyard.
If you’re interested in exploring other parts of the Coyote Creek Trail, check out the two hikes featured in our Hiking Calendar!
Through funding and community outreach support, POST supports the development of the final undeveloped segments of this trail. POST’s close partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority to protect critical wildlife habitat in Coyote Valley will also safeguard the high-quality trail experience in the southern portion of the route and potentially provide new trail connections through and from the Parkway.
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Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more