Joseph D Grant Hike
Duration: ½ day
Distance: 7.3 miles loop
Difficulty: Easy (Easy pace on a cloudy day)
Trailhead: McCreeky lake trailhead (Small parking area)
Trail: Loop Trail -> Mc. Creeky Lake -> Yerba Buena Trail (Loop Trail) -> Canada De Pala Trail -> Halls Valley Trail
I’ve always wanted to hike in and around Mt. Hamilton. Having driven to Lick observatory loads of times I wanted to try hiking in that vicinity and this weekend turned out to be one of the best weekends to be outdoors on a hike. The temperature was just right for a hike. The sun was hidden behind thin clouds which made it a relatively cool day – not too bright and hot and not cold. The lush green mountains spans across in all the directions. Early spring is one of the best times to hike in and around the bay area, especially the hills of the east bay and south bay.
Being a small group of 5, we were able to push off at our own convenience. We headed out to the trailhead at 8:30am. Joseph D Grant is a short drive from Sunnyvale. A quick stopover in San Jose put us at the trailhead at 9:30am. I wanted to make it a relatively short hike. So instead of the planned 11 mile hike around Joseph D Grant county park visiting all the lakes, I decided to take the Yerba Buena Trail all the way to the ridge for panoramic views of Mt. Hamilton, Lick Observatory and the hills of the Mt. Diablo range. We started the hike right away without any significant delay. The loop trail first took us along the Mt. Hamilton road to McCreeky Lake. At first, it felt like a very small puddle of water but upon walking to the shore of the lake, it felt quite big. It was a nice lake surrounded by tall green trees. There was little moisture on the trials but the vegetation was just perfect. Green everywhere. From McCreeky lake we headed out on the loop trail towards the Yerba Buena Trailhead Junction. From there, we went up the steep Yerba Buena trail. The walk up was fun. It was steep but that also meant great panoramic views. As tradition, we went off trail for some good vistas and pictures. On the way to the top, we also some white eggs, we are guessing they are snake eggs.
At the half way mark on the Canada Del Pala trail we found a bench where we took a short break for fruits. After that we trudged along the trail and towards the junction of Halls Valley Trail & Canada Del Pala trail. We went down the Halls Valley trail to reach the beautiful Grant Lake. The lake was so picturesque that it felt as if it was nestled in the mountains carefully with a lot of plan. We stopped at the lake for a while and by the time we got back to the parking lot it was 1:15pm.
After stretching, we drove over to the Lick observatory and then on mines road to Livermore. It was a memorable hike.
Best Time to Visit: Early Spring before it’s too hot
How to get there: Take the Mt. Hamilton Road (Hwy 130) from McKnee Blvd or close to the Youth Institute in San Jose.
Best hikes: This ridge loop is pretty good on a relatively cool/cloudy day.
In-and-around: Mt. Hamilton summit (Lick Observatory), Mines Rd (for a nice drive).
Food: Either carry it with you or plan to head back to the city. If you plan to drive all the way (Mt. Hamilton road -> Mines Rd -> Livermore), carry some food and water with you.