For those in the South Bay, hiking is never far away. Joseph D. Grant County Park is in Halls Valley along Mt. Hamilton Road, a short excursion for most San Francisco Bay Areanites.
The parks offers 51 miles of trail; equestrians, hikers, campers, fishermen, and mountain bikers are permitted to enjoy the park. If you park in the main entrance, a $6 fee will be levied. However, just a bit down the road is another parking lot which is totally free and equipped with a port-a-potty. This is where we chose to start our short day hike.
I won’t get into the long story of this place but basically, the land was once a functioning ranch that eventually fell into the hands of Santa Clara County Parks. As such, remnants of ranch life still persist. We noticed the skeleton of a dock on Grant Lake (where fishermen are welcome although water levels are extremely low right now). The White Barn as well as multiple corrals are other exciting artifacts to look for on hikes.
After visiting Grant Lake, we turned to Halls Valley Trail which offered a short, steep climb that got our hearts pumping. Bikes are only allowed to travel uphill on this route and it has some serious ruts. Our 7-mile loop then followed the Canada de Pala Trail to the Yerba Buena Trail back to the parking lot. Mount Hamilton is visible for most of the hike and is a short drive from the park if you are interested in seeing the Lick Observatory and, on a clear day, the Sierra Nevada.