Great weather, loads of sun and miles of trails make for a great environment to spend some quality time with your favorite four-legged friend. The South Bay Area offers some fantastic dog-friendly hiking trails for everyone from those who like slow, short strolls to more seasoned pairs ready for an exhilarating challenge.Our local trails do come with their share of hazards, so make sure to keep an eye out for snakes, ticks and poison oak when enjoying nature with Fido. It’s also a good idea to go prepared with plenty of sunscreen and water for everyone in your party, in case your adventure takes an unexpected turn.
Almaden Quicksilver Park
21785 Almaden Road
San Jose, CA 95120
Almaden Quicksilver Park boasts more than 34 miles of challenging trails, all of which are open to leashed dogs. The park lays over a now-abandoned quicksilver mine and ruins can be seen throughout. Make sure to download a copy of the park map before heading out, so as not to get lost along the vast trail network. Bringing your own water is also a good idea as potable water is only available at the Hacienda and Mockingbird Hill park entrances.
Alum Rock Park
15350 Penetencia Creek Road
San Jose, CA 95127
The 13 miles of trails in Alum Rock Park connect to the smaller adjacent Penetencia Creek Park. Trails in both parks are a bit easier and shorter than those in other area parks, and make a great option for the less ambitious human-dog hiking pair. They provide waste bags for cleanup, and are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
Ed Levin County Park
3100 Calaveras Road
Milpitas, CA 95035
Ed Levin Park offers miles of challenging steep trails. Dogs are allowed on-leash in all parking lots, picnic areas and all trails north of Calaveras Road. For the really ambitious, one can hike all the way to Monument Peak to link up with the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Trails are mixed use and frequented by hikers, dogs and equestrians. Ed Levin trails are very rarely crowded, which makes them a great find for dog hikers who can also enjoy the adjacent dog park. Shade here is almost as sparse as the crowd, so when venturing out on a hot day, it’s doubly important to remember the water and sunscreen.
Los Gatos Creek Trail
1250 Dell Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008
This popular 11 mile paved trail system runs along highway 880 and through a variety of natural, industrial and residential areas. The mostly flat, shared use trail is heavily trafficked and can become congested on weekends. This is a great trail for the beginning dog-human hiking team. Make sure to stop by the adjacent Los Gatos Creek dog park to give Fido some quality social time at this busy doggie hotspot.
Related: Best Bay Area Hiking Spots
260 Bernal Road
San Jose, CA 95119
Santa Teresa County Park boasts 18 miles of varied terrain trails, from gentle slopes to steep hills. The view from Coyote peak is well worth the challenging climb. This park tends to be more secluded than other area parks and offers a wonderful respite from busy city life.
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Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.