hiking


Exploring Drawbridge | a Bay Area ghost town

Hiking outfit: polka dot mask / black tee / summer nail polish / backpack / water bottle / black leggings / black sweatshirt / black socks (similar here) / hiking boots /

Have you ever been to Drawbridge, California? I had no idea it existed until my husband suggested we take the kids there, and explore the area. Apparently his Mom took him there when we was a child!

Drawbridge is a ghost town. The only abandoned town within the boundaries of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was originally a little vacation spot where people enjoyed duck hunting. It also had a train station, which made it fairly easy to get to in the late 1800’s through the late 1970’s. As the salt industry changed the landscape of the Bay, the landscape of the town began to erode, causing the town to begin sinking into the Bay. This was the main reason the town was abandoned.

Drawbridge sits at the bottom of the Bay, adjacent to Milpitas, San Jose, and Fremont. It’s slightly hidden from view, until you hop on an Amtrak train which speeds by the town. Although there used to be tours of the town, which is how my husband visited it several decades ago, it is now fenced off; with plenty of “no trespassing” signs around the area.

We parked at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Jose. This area offered a flat hiking trail filled with wildlife, which has returned to the area after massive restoration efforts over the past few years to bring the Bay back to life when many of the salt flats were removed. It’s incredible to be able to see so many different types of birds, and plants, in the area; which used to be desolate when I was a child. It makes the long hike into Drawbridge both pretty and educational.

Initially I was excited about this hike. Since it was flat, I assumed it would be fairly relaxing and easy. Apparently I was wrong! While wearing a mask helps cut down on the bottom-of-the-bay smell, it did nothing to shorten the length of the hike. The trail looks easy, but the surface is hard, and it’s roughly an hour and a half down the trail to get to Drawbridge.

Our kids were fine for the first two hours of the hike, the last hour was a little tough on them, and on me. Keep in mind, if it’s ninety minutes to get from the parking lot to Drawbridge, it’s ninety minutes to get back. The three hour, round trip trek was tough on a hot summer day. Thankfully I packed snacks and water, so we were at least fueled and hydrated-just really tired!

I don’t recommend bringing small children on this hike. My kids are teenagers, so they could handle it with a little grumbling. I did see people biking, and one person on a scooter. Those are great alternatives to navigating the trail and making it easier. I highly recommend being prepared, and going out to see Drawbridge at least once in your lifetime if you live here in the Bay Area. If you don’t live around here, and you love ghost towns, check it out!

Drawbridge can be viewed from a lookout which has a bench and signs detailing the ghost town’s history. It’s a fun little part of our local history, and it’s interesting to see a ghost town!

Have you visited Drawbridge before? What did you think? Do you enjoy visiting ghost towns?

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO
Cathy


Rancho San Antonio County Park hiking trails in Cupertino

rancho san antonio perserve hiking trails cupertino review

Rancho San Antonio Park is a large Santa Clara County Park with a series of hiking trails, and a small farm. I have always wanted to hike there, and we finally did!

We took our family hiking at Rancho San Antonio County Park on a Saturday morning, when we thought it might be slow. We were mistaken! This is a popular park, and the multiple parking lots fill up quickly. I recommend getting there well before 9am if you want an easy time finding a parking space.

Although the park is heavily trafficked, it is very large, so it can accommodate a large volume of hikers; even during this time of social distancing.

Rancho San Antonio County Park hiking trails are set up to ensure social distancing. The county made the trails one-way, so you cannot turn around and go back. Get ready to hike!

The one-way trails are a gift, and a curse. If you get tired, you have to keep going; there is no turning around and going back from where you came from. Luckily when my kids saw the one-way signs, they were mentally prepared to gut it out. They did the whole hike!

We were out there for two hours, and hiked roughly four miles. It was really fun, and a very pretty hike. While there wasn’t an abundance of views, as there are on other trails I have covered, there was a cute farm, known as Deer Hollow Farm, and lots of trees. We loved the large amount of shade on these trails! The shady trails are perfect this time of year.

The one-way trails may end at a different parking lot than the one you started at. Don’t worry, all the parking lots are in a line, so you can easily find your way back to the lot where your car is parked.

The terrain isn’t very steep, this hike is more sloped; making it ideal for families with children, and anyone who isn’t into steep hikes. I would say this is an easy hike, but right now, it is long-so bring water and snacks!

There is a mask ordinance in the State of California, so you will need to wear a mask while hiking Rancho San Antonio Reserve hiking trails. I like to hike while wearing a balaclava which is easy to pull down around my neck when no-one else is around. You can wear any mask you are comfortable hiking in.

Rancho San Antonio County Park hiking trails are easy to find. Take the Foothill exit off 280 and head west. Turn right onto Cristo Rey Drive and drive a couple minutes until you see the large sign. Then you can enter the parking area and find a lot with open spaces. You can’t miss it! It’s easy to find 🙂

Have you hiked on the trails at Rancho San Antonio County Park in Cupertino? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO
Cathy


Almaden Quicksilver Park Mine Hill Trail

We are have having so much fun exploring the trails in Almaden Quicksilver Park! We decided to park at the Hacienda Trailhead in order to catch a trail from there. It was fun to see some historical mining equipment near the trailhead, and learn more about the quicksilver mining history in the area. Isn’t the equipment cool!

There are a few trailheads you can catch at the Hacienda entrance, and we decided to hike the Mine Hill Trail. It was a nice, uphill hike with views of Almaden Valley’s more rural areas. We could see historical homes, buildings, and rolling hills. It was really pretty. The trail was wide too, allowing for easy social distancing.

Mine Hill Trail in Almaden Quicksilver Park was slightly busy, but I believe it was due to the fact that hiking is one of the few things open right now.

This trail attracted more than just hikers. We encountered a lot of bike riders, and a few runners and dog walkers. The bikers rode pretty fast, and as a hiker, you had to be aware of them or you would get run over. Just a warning 🙂

Once again, I wore my balaclava as a mask. It’s easy to slip up and down when people are around. I would say 80% of the people on the trail were wearing masks. If you go, be ready to turn your head if someone comes by without a mask.

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This was a great trail for my kids to hike on. It wasn’t too steep, and they were able to keep up with only a couple of breaks. There was a mix of bright sun and shade during the hike. It was a comfortable hike, and it felt like medium intensity. We really enjoyed the Mine Hill Trail!

I hope you are getting out there and enjoying the nice weather! To find the Hacienda Trailhead in San Jose, take Almaden Expressway to Almaden Road. Continue all the way through the historical part of Almaden. Shortly after the museum, which you can’t miss, you will see the parking lot for the trailhead. There are several trails you can catch there. We will definitely go back!

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

Cathy