|Los Gatos Creek Trail
Part 3: Lark Avenue to Los Gatos Creek Park
|Los Gatos Creek Trail, bridge over Los Gatos Creek north of Lark Avenue|
|Looking south towards the Lark Avenue Bridge||Trail leading north next to Charter Oaks Drive near the creek bridge|
This section of the Los Gatos Creek Trail leads into the
area where the creek earns its keep: the Campbell Percolation Basin, where
waters from the creek are used to recharge the Valley's underground aquifers.
After passing under the Lark Avenue Bridge, the creek trail immediately
crosses over to the west side of the creek on a steel box-frame bridge.
It runs parallel to and below Charter Oaks Drive next to the large condominium
complex of the same name. The creek flows east of the trail behind a chain-link
fence through a broad, open creekbed, surrounded by pebbled banks and shielded
from view by small hillocks. Log fences line the trail to the west. Several
paths lead down to the trail from Charter Oaks Drive, which also has parking
areas. Charter Oaks Drive ends is a cul-de-sac, which has a path leading
down to the trail. Beyond that is the back parking lot of Lucent Technologies
along Albright Way. There's a cluster of other high-technology businesses
here in the Los Gatos Business Park.
|Los Gatos Creek Trail under Hwy 85, looking south||Trail north of Hwy 85, looking south|
The trail rises, then drops down and passes under the
3 huge concrete bridges of Hwy 85 and its connecting ramp with Hwy 17 at
3.2 miles. The trail passes only a few feet away from the creek. The trail
rises up on the other side of the highway and runs behind a nursery and
more high-tech businesses. The creek slows down and flows past brush and
vine-covered banks, with towering over-arching sycamores providing shade.
Planted redwoods line the west side of the trail, behind the businesses.
Suburban homes line the east shore of the creek. The creek widens and becomes
a small pond above a low dam at 3.5 miles. Fences prevent access to the
area around the dam.
|Los Gatos Creek near Knowles Drive, looking from the east bank||Looking south at Los Gatos Creek from the bridge near the Page Dam|
The trail enters the southwestern boundary of Los
Gatos Creek County Park. A short path leads west out to a parking lot
at the corner of Knowles Drive and Dell Avenue. Knowles Drive is on the
border between Los Gatos and Campbell and leads west out to busy Winchester
Blvd. Dell Avenue continues north past small businesses to the main road
entrance to Los Gatos Creek Park just north of East Hacienda Avenue.
|Trail next to ponds at Los Gatos Creek County park, looking north||3 west ponds at Los Gatos Creek County Park, near south pond|
|Los Gatos Creek Park main pond looking south from north shore||Casting ponds at Los Gatos Creek Park|
|R/C Boat racing on Los Gatos Creek Park middle pond, main pond in back||North shore, main pond|
Back to the creek trail, it enters Los
Gatos Creek County Park, which is a complex of percolation ponds and
water channels. Los Gatos Creek itself runs into a wide channel with a
series of dams. Percolation ponds are on both sides of the creek. The largest
ponds are on the west side, separated by straight levees. The ponds are
lined with reeds. The middle pond is used for radio-controlled speedboat
racing. The largest percolation pond to the north is a popular recreation
area. Trout are planted in the cooler months in the north pond, providing
good fishing. Fishermen, young and old, line the rock wall on the northern
shore. Benches and picnic tables line this part of the shore. A boat launching
ramp is on the northeastern corner. A fishing pier is near the southwest
corner of the pond. Warmer months bring wind surfers. Children come to
watch the ducks and geese. Cormorants perch on the power lines over the
lake, looking for fish. The developed part of the park has parking areas
(fee charged), restrooms, picnic tables, brick barbecues, water fountains,
and a broad lawn. 2 concrete-lined casting ponds, built in 1995, draw fly
|Page Dam and bridge over Los Gatos Creek||Pond, observation platform, and bridge at Los Gatos Creek Park|
|Small percolation pond at Los Gatos Creek Park||Pond and pedestrian bridge over Hwy 17 at Los Gatos Creek Park|
Adjacent ponds offer warmwater fishing and bird-watching.
A couple tenths of a mile downstream from the first small dam, the creek
widens out and drops over the larger Page Dam at 3.7 miles. The 10-foot
high by 200-foot wide dam, built in 1934, was named in honor of irrigation
pioner George W. Page. A long bridge, suspended under a steel arch, crosses
over the creek by the dam. On the other side are 4 small percolation ponds.
Close to the bridge, on the shore of the southwestern pond, is a wooden
observation platform (currently closed to access). The paved path crosses
a levee between the two western ponds and runs up the new Mozart Pedestrian
Overcrossing, which leads over Hwy 17 near the 2 small, narrow eastern
ponds. You can get good views of the ponds and surrounding area from the
overcrossing. The overcrossing rises high above Hwy 17, then drops into
a suburban neighborhood. The paved path ends up on East Mozart Avenue,
which intersects South Bascom Avenue just north of Hwy 85. A dirt path
runs from the trail to a cul-de-sac at the intersection of Kilmer Avenue
and Longfellow Avenue.
|Looking north along Los Gatos Creek from east bank||Looking towards east bank of Los Gatos Creek in Los Gatos Creek Park|
Dirt paths run around the ponds and channels east of Los
Gatos Creek. One gravel path follows the east bank of Los Gatos Creek north.
Along the way, there are two concrete ramps that lead down to the creek.
The path ends at a fence at Camden Avenue. A hole in the fence is a strong
hint that this isn't an official trail entrance. There's no sidewalk along
this part of busy Camden Avenue leading west over Los Gatos Creek, so this
is not a safe access or exit point to cross over the creek to reach the
west bank. To cross over the creek safely, you should backtrack to the
bridge by the Page Dam.
|Cormorant and duck on Los Gatos Creek|
Even though Los Gatos Creek itself is a tamed channel
with concrete dams, the dirt paths along its banks and trees and reeds
along its edges still give it a natural look. Waterfowl and muskrats find
it natural enough for them. The view to the east, which includes Hwy 17,
isn't much to look at, but looking across the main lake to the south, you
can see the soaring green slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains reflected
in the calm waters. (On the other hand, the park provides a great scenic
view to commuters on Hwy 17.) To the northeast, you can see the Mount Hamilton
Range, the highest mountains in the Bay Area.
|Dam at Los Gatos Creek Park||Camden Avenue Bridge, Los Gatos Creek Trail ramp on the left|
Near the north end of the main pond at Los Gatos Creek County Park, Los Gatos Creek spills noisily over the gate of a wide dam at 4.4 miles. Continuing north along the trail, you pass the casting ponds and drop down a long ramp under Camden Avenue at 4.5 miles.
Continue to the rest of the Los Gatos Creek Trail:
Part 4 - Camden Avenue to Leigh Avenue
Part 5 - Leigh Avenue to Confluence Point
Go back to the previous parts of the Los Gatos Creek Trail:
Part 1 - Forbes Mill to Blossom Hill Road
Part 2 - Vasona Lake, Oak Meadow Park to Lark Avenue
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Ron Horii, San Jose