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Copyright © 2000-2002 by Michael Wimble, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Grant Ranch County Park

We're not quite sure who we should run out of town on a rail—Tom Stienstra or Ann Marie Brown. You see they wrote this book, "California Hiking". And here is what they say about the hike we took at Grant Ranch—a hike we chose because of their description.

The route to Eagle Lake is a direct shot of 3.5 miles, climbing a couple of hundred feet in the process.

So that's what I told everyone and that's what we planned for. It seems every time we try a new trail we've never tried before and rely on someone else's information, we find they are wildly off in their description of the hike.

We began at about 10 am on an absolutely beautiful day. There were four new people joining us today, and 2 existing members, for 8 total, counting Kathy and myself. We managed to find the trail head easily enough, though, again, the book failed to mention that the main park entrance occurs just before where we actually started.

A short, 200 foot descent brought us to the Joseph D Grant House, a rather impressive and historic building. From there, it looks like it's a flat hike to the lake. From a bit further on, it looks like a short climb to the lake, albeit more than the 200 feet quoted in the book. From that short climb, it looks like another short climb to the lake. From that short climb, it looks like another short climb to the lake. Well, string that last sentence together enough times, and you'll eventually come to the truth. After a 200 foot descent at the beginning, it's about 800 feet to the lake. Or, about 1000 feet of climb over all. We had some rather unkind words for Tom and Ann.

The problem is, of course, that when people tell you that you have a 200 foot climb to make, you dole out your water and energy according to that schedule. You pace yourself according to that schedule. As has happened a few other times when we've relied on other people's totally inaccurate descriptions, we ran out of water and interest in the climb before we actually finished the hike.

That is not to say that the hike wasn't stupendous otherwise. The wildflowers were in wild profusion. Birds, squirrels, and even pigs were about. The grounds are beautiful, even on this easiest of the trails that we took. That is to say, there are several other trails which may be even more beautiful, but they are probably all considerably harder also.

But whenever we finish a hike like this, we gain bragging rights. To paraphrase Shakespeare's "Henry V":

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
    For he today that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother. Be he ne'er so vile,
    this day shall gentle his condition
    And gentlemen in California now abed
    Shall think themselves accursed that they were not here.
    And hold their manhood's cheap whiles any speaks
    That hiked with us upon Easter's Eve.

I can only hope, however, that we haven't scared off any of our four new hikers by subjecting them to a hard hike on the "Wimble Scale", when an easy hike was advertised. Of course, everyone said how much they enjoyed the hike while we were there. The truth, however, will tell out tomorrow when they awake with sore and burned muscles. If any show up for next week's hike, we'll know indeed it was as good a hike as I thought.

For the gallery of pictures from the hike, click HERE. Remember that you can click on pictures in the gallery to see and/or download a larger version of the picture.

Situated on more than 9500 acres, the largest county park in Santa Clara Country, the park is stunning in the spring. And, as it is on the way to Mount Hamilton, it is perhaps less visited than other parks, providing for a more personal experience.

The park is full of wildlife, including deer, wild pigs, and cattle. Great vistas are everywhere. Most of the park, however, involves vertical movement—little of it is flat.

The rather impressive Joseph D Grant House is located near the park headquarters. Camping with hot showers and picnicking are available. Bicycles are permitted on about half of the trails, Parking is $4.


From Interstate 680, take the Alum Rock exit east. Turn right onto Mount Hamilton Road and travel 8 miles to the park entrance. There is also parking across from the headquarters just a short trip up the road.

See also for a short description and map.