Wheel to one of California’s original health spas: Alum Rock Park, a small canyon in the foothills of the Diablo Range, just outside of San Jose. Back at the turn of the century, Alum Rock was a health resort with 27 natural mineral springs. Visitors flocked to the spa in epic numbers on the Alum Rock Steam Railroad. Today there’s a rail-trail, but you can still smell the…er…natural scents wafting near the park’s visitor center. This place gets piping hot in summer, but shady sycamores, oaks, and alders have you covered. Start this gentle ride on the Creek Trail anywhere in the park. Squirrels are everywhere on the mostly flat path, which runs about 2 miles one way and parallels Pentencia Creek the entire route. Picnic tables line the trail. If you’re up for a bike-and-hike adventure, go all the way to the east end of the Creek Trail, lock your bike, and head up the South Rim Trail. This switchback rises for about a mile, but the ridge rewards with huge views from San Jose to the coastal range.
Due to high fire danger, the park may be closed; call ahead to check (408-277-4539). Directions to Alum Rock Park: from I-680 in San Jose, exit McKee Rd. and go east about 1.5 miles. Turn left on Toyon Ave. and go 1 mile. Turn right onto Pentencia Creek Rd. and follow it into the park.