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August 17, 2010 > Great assets

Great assets

By Supervisor Dave Cortese

Last month, I joined the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department to celebrate the grand opening of the Alviso Marina County Park's new boat launch facilities. It was a great event with more than 600 people attending on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Seeing the joy and wonder on children's faces as they rode a kayak for the first time is proof that the county's numerous parks are invaluable.

We are blessed to live in such a temperate climate that enables us to enjoy these assets year-round. From the new boat launch ramps to the Grant Ranch and all the trails in between, there is something for everyone. I would like to highlight a few of these parks and recreational opportunities and encourage you to take time try them out. After all, they are your parks to enjoy.

One of my favorites is the Joseph D. Grant County Park, also known as the Grant Ranch. This is the largest of the county parks. It offers views of grasslands and majestic oaks with many opportunities to explore. Equestrians and hikers have access to an extensive 52-mile trail system. Nearly half of those trails are also open to mountain bikers. Additionally, there are camping, picnic and fishing areas all beckoning for a relaxing weekend in the back-country.

On the opposite side of the valley, Mt. Madonna County Park offers views of both Santa Clara Valley and the Monterey Bay. Most of the park is covered by the grand redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. One of the most popular activities at Mt. Madonna is overnight camping. There are more than 100 campsites in four different campgrounds. Also, just recently, the county installed multiple yurts for use by overnight campers. These yurts are circular, domed, tent-like structures with multiple bunk beds and locking doors. It is like having your tent already set up for you.

If you need a variety of activities to keep your family entertained, Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas is for you. There is a nice off-leash dog park for the canine members of your family and play areas for the little ones. The park's Sandy Wool Lake is stocked with fish from November through May for avid anglers. There are numerous trails for you to hike in the morning, including one that takes you to Monument Peak which overlooks the valley and the San Francisco Bay. And then in the afternoon, there are expansive lawn areas for a relaxing time to fly your kites.

The newest park in the county is also the one I await most eagerly. The Martial Cottle County Park in South San Jose is currently being developed. More than 300 acres of land was donated to the county and the State to be developed into an educational park to showcase the agricultural history of Santa Clara Valley. When completed, it will include a working farm, an orchard and many opportunities for residents and schools to learn about what life was like in the valley even just a few decades ago.

I hope these highlights have inspired you to find a park to enjoy. If you haven't decided where to start, you can get a taste of all the parks by taking the Healthy Trails Challenge. This free challenge guides you through the numerous trails that the county parks system offers. There are free gifts available for signing up as well as completing your first five trails. However, the best gift of all is being able to explore the great outdoors with your loved ones.

This is just a glimpse of the parks that the county offers. I encourage you to learn more about them and visit them as often as you can. If you would like find out more information on these parks or look up the other parks, please visit or contact me at (408) 299-5030 or

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