Friday, November 27, 2015

Joseph D. Grant County Park

Joseph D. Grant County Park is the largest Santa Clara County regional park and has 52 miles of trails. The park is nestled in the Diablo Range foothills and you take the Mt. Hamilton Road to get to it.

The park has a short paved whole access trail that is very scenic. There is also a longer paved trail nearby that has a meadow on one side and a picnic area on the other.

For those wanting to hike an intermediate level trail, you have the Bernal Trail and the Hotel Trail.

You access the Bernal Trail from a small parking lot just beyond where you turn into the main park area, and it has one accesssible parking spot.  The beginning of the 0.4 mile trail has around a 7% slope, but after that it’s pretty flat.  The trail itself is a mixture of dirt and rocks.  I really like this trail because it gives you a beautiful view of Grant Lake.

The Hotel Trail is near the whole access trail. There is a 7% slope getting to the trail but after that, the trail is fairly flat.  The 3.4 mile trail is mostly made up of hard packed dirt, which during the summer the trail can become very dusty. So much so, that one time I had to turn back - dust isn't good for ventilators.  But, I've gone in the spring and fall and there was less amount of dust in the air during those times. I really enjoyed wheelchair hiking this trail because of the panoramic beauty of the rolling hills.  Plus, there aren't that many wheelchair accessible trails that are this long.

There are several handicap parking spots in the main park area, accessible bathrooms, and some of the picnic tables are somewhat wheelchair accessible

To see more of Joseph D. Grant County Park, 
please watch my video.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve

Just the drive to Rancho Canada del Oro makes it worthwhile to visit this Open Space Preserve.  Minutes after leaving the freeway you're passing farms and horse ranches, as rolling hills begin to encompass your surroundings. 

Rancho Canada del Oro has a short, but enjoyable All Access trail.  One of the first things you’ll notice upon arriving is how quiet and peaceful it is.  During several of my visits, I've several species of birds and deer.  My sister saw a fox, but the sound of my power chair chased it away before I was able to see it and take a photo of it.

There are two wheelchair accessible picnic tables, accessible parking, and an accessible restroom.

If you’re looking to get out of the city and enjoy the tranquility of the country side, Rancho Canada del Oro is a perfect place to unwind at and enjoy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ed Levin County Park

One of the things that makes Ed Levin County Park special is that it’s located in the foothills above Milpitas.  Just a short drive from Interstate 680, you’re given the choice of two park areas – Sandy Wool Lake and Spring Valley Pond.

The Sandy Wool Lake area offers fishing, a popular dog park, and if you time it right, you can watch hang gliders soar over the hills.  The Spring Valley Pond area is smaller, but just as inviting.  The pond gives you an up-close look at various bird species and turtles that like to sunbathe on half-submerged tree branches.  Both park areas have accessible parking, restrooms, and picnic tables.  Cell phone service isn’t reliable.

Ed Levin is an ideal place to get away from the city and enjoy having a picnic in a quiet and scenic park setting.
To watch a slideshow of my wheelchair adventure, please click on the video below.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Alviso Marina County Park

Trail rating - Easy
Trail length - The Alviso Slough Trail is a 9 miles loop
Trail uses - Hiking, bicycles, and wheelchairs
Cumulative elevation change - Less than 4%
Typical grade, cross slope - Flat, none
Trail width and surface - 8 feet, dirt
Cellular Service Signal Strength - Good within the park area.

Alviso Marina is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the scenic views of the wetlands, salt ponds, and the panoramic view of the mountains in the far distant. I was surprised on how quiet and serene it was, being only a few minutes from the city.  For those up for the challenge the Alviso Slough Trail makes a 9 mile loop.  There isn’t any shade on the trail and it can be windy at times so come prepared.

The viewing platforms and boardwalk give you the opportunity to see various types of birds, making it a very popular place for bird watching. There is also a boat launch ramp where both non-motorized and motorized boats have access to the San Francisco Bay.

The park has accessible restrooms and picnic table, two handicap parking spots, and one handicap parking spot at the boat launch parking area.
Dogs are allowed only in the picnic areas and pathways but not on the trails.

To watch a slideshow of my wheelchair adventure, please click on the video below.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Trail(s) rating:  Easy
Trail length:  1 mile to Deer Hollow Farm.
                     The Deer Meadow Trail is .4 miles (it’s a side trail)
Trail Surface:  Dirt, Paved
Trail usage:  Hikers, bicyclists, dogs, wheelchairs, occasional vehicle on service road.

I’ve been hiking at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve for several years and one of the reasons is because it’s an easy and scenic hike for wheelchairs.

The first trail you take is the Permanente Creek Trail. This is a wide, flat  dirt trail and it has a panoramic view of the hills just beyond the meadow.  You’ll soon come to a junction. Here you can cross a service road and continue onto the Lower Meadow Trail (you can also use the service road that runs along side of it), or you can go right and hike the short Deer Meadow Trail which leads to another service road you can take back to that junction.

The Lower Meadow Trail will bring you back to the main service road. This road will take you to Deer Hollow Farm but you can also continue on the more narrow Lower Meadow trail.  I prefer the service road as it is easier for wheelchairs.

After you cross the bridge the trail has a short, semi steep hill to go up before getting to the farm. At the 160 year-old historic farm you’ll see cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, a garden, and a nature center. General admission is free.

The restrooms in the lower parking area are accessible and there are 5 handicap parking spots. The two upper parking areas each have two handicap parking spots but, there is a steep pathway going down to the lower section so it could be a difficult climb back up in a manual wheelchair.

Rancho San Antonio is very popular and because of that it’s very crowded on the weekends so parking can be an issue.   Afternoons and weekdays are the best time to visit if you don’t want to deal with lots of people on the trail.

Note: The service road is mainly for bicyclists, wheelchairs, and service vehicles. Pedestrians should use the Lower Meadow Trail.

To see a slideshow of my wheelchair adventure, please watch my video:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch Park - Martin Murphy Trail

Trail length:  2.4 miles
Trail type: Paved
Trail ratings: Easy
Trail usage: Hikers, bicycles, horses, dogs, and wheelchairs

I haven’t wheelchair-hiked too many paved-loop trails and the few that I have hiked have been very short. This is why I am so impressed with the 2.4 mile Martin Murphy Trail at Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch Park. The first time I visited this park was when the rolling hills and meadows were painted in a mixture of green grass and spring wild flowers.  I found myself constantly stopping on the trail to admire and appreciate the beauty that presented itself.  Various species of birds will keep you company as you make your way around the trail loop.  At the end of the trail you can enjoy wheeling up to one of the accessible picnic tables which now have new shade structures. 

There isn’t much shade on the trail so best time to visit is during the morning or late afternoon. There are rest areas and a water fountain located on the trail.   The park has one handicap parking spot and a porta potty that is wheelchair accessible.

Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch Park is located in San Martin (Gilroy).  From Hwy 101, take the San Martin Ave exit. Go east on San Martin Ave for about 1.5 miles.  The entrance to the park is on the left.

To watch a slideshow of the Martin Murphy Trail, please watch my video

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vasona Lake County Park

Trail length: Over two miles 
Trail width: Ten feet
Trail surface type: Paved
Trail rating: Easy
Trail usage: Hikers, bicyclist, dogs, and wheelchairs
Cell Service: Good 
Water fountains: Yes

One of the well-known and favorite parks in Santa Clara County is Vasona Lake County Park, which is located in Los Gatos. Within the park, you have over two miles of paved trails to enjoy. The trail offers you a panoramic view of Vasona Lake, while other parts of the trail lead you under a canopy of trees, which is great during summer's warm weather. There are a couple of places where you can sit and relax by a creek that runs through a section of the park.  The Vasona trail also connects to the Los Gatos Creek trail which is a scenic 9.5-mile trail.

You can rent pedal boats, kayaks, and sailboats from Spring to Fall. For children, there is the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, which has a 1/3 scale locomotive. The park is also a great place for bird watching.

 Vasona has accessible parking, restrooms, and picnic tables that are located in different areas of the park. It does get crowded during the weekend, especially during summer.  I found the best time to visit is early morning. 
Happy Wheeling!

To see my wheelchair adventure at Vasona, please watch my video. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Crissy Field - San Francisco

Trail length: 1.3 miles - from parking area to the Torpedo Wharf
Trail type: Dirt
Trail ratings: Easy
Trail usage: Hikers, bicyclist, dogs, and wheelchairs

Crissy Field is a wonderful recreation area with lots to offer, which makes it a prime place for locals and tourists. It can be crowded on the weekends but the main pathway is very wide and I didn’t have any trouble cruising along and bumping into anyone.  There are a few handicap parking spots at East Beach parking area and each time we’ve visited during the weekend, we didn’t have trouble finding parking.  There are also accessible restrooms by the parking area.

Starting from the parking area and heading west, make your way along the dirt trail. To your left, you’ll see a lagoon, which is a great place to do some bird watching.  On the right you’ll see a couple places where a wooden platform extends out onto the beach. Next you’ll see a long, grassy field which was the site for a former army airfield.  There is a trail that cuts through it and that leads to a paved bike trail. It’s wide enough  though that I didn’t have any problems sharing it with bicyclists.

Continuing on the beach pathway you’ll be getting a closer view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Wheelchair users are able to join others on the beach as there are beach wheelchairs available.  You’ll need to call and give them a 5 day advance notice and you can pick up the beach wheelchair at Fort Mason, Building 201. For more information, contact Richard De La O, Accessibility Program Manager. Voice: (415) 561-4958

The beach pathway finally comes to West Bluff Picnic area and at the end of that is the Warming Hut which also has accessible restrooms.  On the right you’ll see the Torpedo Wharf.  There are cracks in the wharf and bumpy at places, but it’s worth venturing out onto to get a better view of the bridge and a wonderful view of the San Francisco skyline.

Just beyond is a road that leads to Fort Point.  From there you can get a close up of the Golden Gate Bridge towering above.

Also nearby Crissy Field, is San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theater. I was amazed by its stunning architecture. It was also featured Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Vertigo.  Because it’s so close, it’s well worth a visit.

I really enjoyed visiting Crissy Field and highly recommend it.  Be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time.  Some days it’s very foggy, and the last time I went there there was a cold wind blowing in from the Bay, so be sure to bring extra clothing just in case.

Crissy Field is located at 1199 East Beach, San Francisco