Hundreds of miles of well-maintained hardpack cross-country race track, 15 foot wide main trail. Awesome trail, that is not too technical, but is very aerobically challenging. There are some killer downhills that propel you to speeds upwards to 60 mph.
Summary: I split the park into East and West. Both sides have extended and steep climbs but I find the East side is more exposed than the West. During the hot summer I prefer the West to keep in the shade. All these are best ridden relatively early as it can get very hot out there. The best thing about these trails is that you can make all sorts of loop choices to make a short, 1-hour ride or string it out to 3-4 hours. Also this is 20-30 minutes from most of San Jose but there is seldom more than a couple other hikers or riders on the trails. Because of the climbing this is for intermediate to advanced riders. It is not technical since it's fire roads pretty much throughout the park.
Recommended Route: East - Park at lot just east of main entrance, left side of road. It's open at 8:00 am and it's free. Head through the gate and along the lake then right up Los Huecos. Stay left at the fork to climb Halls Valley. This is an extended climb with some steep climbs so be prepared. Go left onto Canada de Pala and stay right at the next Y to head up Pala Seca. Near the top elevation of Pala Seca is the turnoff for Antler Peak, a single track to the highest point on the East side with views of Lick Observatory and most of San Jose.. Go back down the single track and continue right on Pala Seca, which at this point becomes Canada Seca trail back to the the Y. Head back down Canada de Pala past Hall's Valley. For the shortest loop take a right turn at the next Y and head down Los Huecos. To add another 20-30 minutes, continue up Canada de Pala, and head down Yerba Buena. To add yet another 30 minutes continue on Canada, though the gates, across the road, and go right to go down Canada de Pala. Go right at the intersection, to ride Hotel trail. Go right and, stayright as you go to get back to the main road, 1/4 mile from your car.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Dutch Flat to Canada de Pala.
Summary: Grant Ranch is great if you enjoy challenging climbs, wide open panoramic views of the bay area, wildflowers in the spring, super fast sketchy and rutted fireroad descents, solitude, intervals, did I mention climbing and more climbing, a few prime singletrack sections, oak trees, sycamore trees, buckeye trees, bay laurels and pine trees, cows, pigs, coyote, squirrels, more cows and more climbs. This is an awesome park with a different flavor than what you'll get in the forested singletrack of the Soquel Demonstration forest. Admire this park for what it is and not what it isn't and you'll be thrilled by what you are so privileged to take in!
Recommended Route: I like to go to Antler Point and take in one of the most majestic views that this park has to offer. Start at the Grant Lake Parking lot, climb up Halls Valley trail to the intersection of Canada de Pala and head north along the ridge and climb some more to the intersection of Canada de Pala and Pala Seca trails, climb some more and get to the Antler Point intersection and bear right for another 1/4 mile out to Antler Point...here's a little video, since a picture is worth a thousands words, a video is worth a million, but even still doesn't do this precious gem of a park due justice. Enjoy and be inspired...you're in for a helluva ride and a terrific lung busting, quad stressing workout!
Summary: First time at Joseph Grant Park and decided to try the trail below. I was not ready for the insane amount of climbing invloved. Basically did a hike & bike for most of the climb. After about 1.5 hours of hike & bike, we decided to turn around and ride back. The ride back was all downhill so loved that part.
We started early at 9am on a Sat morning. The trails are very tranquil with the exception of humming overhead power lines. We did run into a 3ft long garden snake resting on the trail. Other than that...its just you and mother nature. We didnt see another sole until we got back to the parking lot.
I dont recommend the trail below for beginners as the climbs are very steep. I am in fairly decent shape but I did not have the endurance to power up the climnbs. The Canada de Pala trail is a 1,000 ft gain spread across a mere 1 mile. STEEP!
Next time I will be trying the Dutch Flat Trail as I hear that one is more for beginners. The park is very large so make sure you bring all your supplies with you.
Recommended Route: Start on the Hotel Trail=>Lower Hotel past Circle Corral (Very easy, warmup). Continue on the Hotel Trail until you hit a 4 way intersection. Climb the Canada de Pala trail (east, towards Twin Gates, good aerobic workout). Cross the road at Twin Gates.
Continue on Canada de Pala (past Yerba Buena, Los Huecos, Halls Valley trail) until you come to a intersection. You can go clockwise or counter clockwise, (I prefer counter, taking Pala Seca trail). Climb up to Antler point (single track) for a nice view. Circle back the way you came, past Halls Valley trail, and go down Los Huecos Trail (fast and steep downhill). Head south towards the parking lot. Cross the road, and ride up the road south a tiny bit to get back onto the Hotel trail, and return to your car.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Next trails ride (Beginner) = Dutch Flat trail
Summary: Well this being the early spring I figured that a nice ride was in order for a Sunday. Knowing that Grant is relativley unpopulated I decided to make a venture out and see what it was like.
A wide variety of trails to take.. the fireroads are very wide and with the exception of the stuff near the top.. pretty smooth. The stuff at the top was rutted fairly deep, probably due to the recent snow melting off of it. I was out there for 3 hours and saw a total of 8 people.. which was nice. The climbs aren't super steep, but they can be rather long, so shift wisely. Nothing too techy except for the occasional fallen tree laying across the path (nope, not jumpable, at least for me).
COWS!!! COWS!! O M G COWS!!. There was a ton of them (literally and figuratively) on the Hotel Trail. Thick enough at one point that I decided to turn around and try a different route. They wont bother you but they can be a rather large obstruction. There is also very very limited shade, like the others before me have said.. Take some sunscreen if you aren't up there early in the morning. There is also a $5 fee to park in the lot, but that isn't a big deal, you can just park on the street. There is also several gates.. maybe they're open in the summer, but today they were all closed, so I had to get off my bike, open and close them.
Overall this is a fun place to ride, and you have the freedom to go wide open if you so choose.. there is even a section on the Hotel Trail where you blaze across a little creek. that was kind of cool. I'll be up there more this summer, but I'm taking some kind of pocket air horn to clear the damn cows off the trail next time.
Recommended Route: This is what I did..
Hotel Trail --> Eagle Lake (blocked by cows) --> Back down to Canada De Pala --> Up to Bonhoff --> Over to Foothill --> Back to Hotel and back home.
Summary: Grant park is cool. The uphill is....well, very, very tiring for a beginner like me. I was able to get up there without stopping but I was going 2mph :). I started mtn. biking a month ago for my exercise. And fell in love with it. Now, it is my new hobby. I go to alum rock park pretty much every weekend and I took the day off today and read this review about this track and I said I guess it's time for me to try a more aggresive track. For beginners, here's what you need to bring. A map, a buddy, 1 20oz of water is good enough for 2 hours of biking, wear a helmet, and a thick sweater. It's hella cold up there today. We saw 3 wild boar, wood peckers, deers, weird looking goose that almost look like a turkey but I doubt it is. The downhill is insane because you can really go fast to you have to watch your speed especially when you hit those branches on the ground the bike tends to slip on the other direction. Go in the morning just incase you get lost you'll have time to get back in track. Don't bring a cell phone that's just extra weight. They dont have service up there. After today I'm probably not gonna come back there until my friends are ready. I might see Henry Coe this weekend. Enjoy!
Other recommended trails in the same area: Alum Rock Park