The Los Gatos Creek Trail Part 1: Lexington, Novitiate Park to Blossom Hill Road

Old Los Gatos Creek Trail Pages

The Ghosts of Lexington

Youtube Video: Lexington Dam Spilling, 3/27/11

Santa Clara County Parks


  Outdoor Activities

  Healthy Trails

Lexington Park

  Los Gatos Creek Trail

Vasona/Los Gatos Creek


  Villa Montalvo

  Almaden Quicksilver

  Santa Teresa

Santa Clara Valley Water District

   Lexington Reservoir and Lenihan Dam

   Vasona Dam and Reservoir

Mid-Peninsula Open Space District

   St. Joseph's Hill OSP

   Sierra Azul OSP

   El Sereno OSP

   Bear Creek Redwoods OSP

Bay Area Ridge Trail

Los Gatos Parks and Trails

  Oak Meadow Park Map

Campbell Parks

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  Los Gatos Creek Trail

  Three Creeks Trail

  Guadalupe River Park and Gardens:

   Guadalupe River Trail

   Guadalupe Creek Trail

Valley Transportation Authority

San Francisco Bay Trail

Ron Horii's Park and Trail Pages:

Los Alamitos Creek Trail

Guadalupe River Park

Guadalupe River Trail to Alviso

Coyote Creek Trail

Penitencia Creek Trail

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail

Stevens Creek Trail

Shoreline Park, Mountain View

Palo Alto Baylands

Stanford Dish Trail

Ravenswood Bay Trail

Port of Redwood City

Bay Area Biking

Bay Trails, South Bay

Bay Area Parks

Santa Teresa Park

Almaden Quicksilver Park

Bay Area Back Pages

SF Bay Rec & Travel

The Los Gatos Creek Trail
  Part 2: Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks

Bridge at Vasona Lake County Park

Los Gatos Creek runs from the Sierrra Azul Mountains to downtown San Jose, where it joins with the Guadalupe River. The Los Gatos Creek Trail runs along Los Gatos Creek continuously from Lexington dam to Meridian Avenue, with an isolated segment from Lonus Streeet, under I-280 to Auzerias Avenue. Starting in 1998, I made web pages on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Most of the old pictures on those pages were taken with a film camera and scanned at low resolution. The pictures were kept small due to memory and bandwidth constraints. This page is meant to update the pictures. These are higher resolution digital photographs, taken recently. Many are processed using High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging techniques in order to accommodate the wide range of light and shadows. The pictures below were taken from 2008 to 2010 at different times of the year. They are roughly arranged from south to north.

This page covers two of the most popular destinations along the Los Gatos Creek Trail: Vasona Lake County Park and Oak Meadow Park. Both are in Los Gatos on either side of Los Gatos Creek. Vasona is one of the smallest county parks, at 150 acres, but is one of the busiest. It has picnic areas, lawns, boat rentals, fishing, the Youth Science Institute, a nature trail, and a playground. Vasona is also the home of the County Parks administrative offices. 12-acre Oak Meadow Park, owned and operated by the Town of Los Gatos, has picnic areas, a large lawn, bandstand, bocce ball courts, playground, and a carousel. The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad starts in Oak Meadow Park and runs through Vasona. The main entrance to both Vasona and Oak Meadow Park are on Blossom Hill Road between University Avenue and Hwy 17. The entrances are separate and have separate parking fees. Street parking is available along University Avenue.

Near the entrance to Vasona is a kiosk with displays about all the County Parks.

This is the Los Gatos Creek Trail near the entrance of Vasona, looking back towards Blossom Hill Road. The trail passes under Blossom Hill Road and enters Vasona on the east side of the creek. While the Los Gatos Creek Trail continues to follow the east bank of the creek, Vasona and adjoining Oak Meadow Park have many other park trails, roads, and paths. From Blossom Hill Road to San Tomas Aquino Expressway, the Los Gatos Creek Trail is under the jurisdiction of the Santa Clara County Parks. County Parks rules apply.

The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad crosses a trestle in Vasona. The train runs around a big lawn.

A bridge leads across Los Gatos Creek (above) from Vasona to Oak Meadow Park.

The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad Station is in Oak Meadow Park. This is engine #2, a miniature steam engine, built in 1905, that was purchased by rancher and railroad engineer Billy Jones in 1939. It came from a miniature railway that operated in Venice and Santa Monica, California. Billy Jones built a rail line on his orchard in Los Gatos, giving train rides. After his death in 1969, the railroad was moved to Oak Meadow and Vasona parks.

This is the train station for the railroad, near the west bank of Los Gatos Creek. Gates block the trail when the train is crossing. The station sells tickets as well as food and snacks. In the background are service buildings for the railroad. Behind them, Vasona Park begins.

A manual turntable is used to turn the locomotive around for each trip.

Next to the train station is the W.E. "Bill" Mason Carousel building, designed and built mostly by volunteers.

The carousel was originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. After the exposition, it became part of a traveling circus. It was retired in 1967 and purchased in 1980 by the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad Corporation.

Oak Meadow Park opened in 1958 at a site that was previously used as the sewer farm for Los Gatos. This is the lawn and outdoor bandstand at Oak Meadow Park.

The large Oak Meadow Park playground features a fire engine, train engine, and caboose.

The Lockheed T33-A Shooting Star jet trainer plane at the Oak Meadow Park playground. It was built in 1954 and has been on loan to Los Gatos from the Air Force since 1974. The T33 was America's first jet trainer for training Air Force pilots.

On the west side of Los Gatos Creek north of Oak Meadow Park are 2 group picnic areas in Vasona: Creekside and Meadowbrook (shown above).

This shady section of Los Gatos Creek is in Vasona near the Meadowbrook group picnic site, looking upstream from the west bank.

This is Los Gatos Creek in Vasona near the Meadowbrook group picnic site, looking downstream.

This view is looking across Los Gatos Creek at the Meadowbrook Group Site from the east bank.

This is looking upstream at Los Gatos Creek as it flows under the car bridge that leads to the west side of the park by the boat docks.

This is Los Gatos Creek from the west bank. The creek flows around a small island.

Looking across Los Gatos Creek from the west bank, the Los Gatos Creek Trail runs next to the playground and picnic area. A great egret hunts for fish in the creek.

The Vasona playground

This is the playground and picnic area.

Los Gatos Creek from the east bank just before it enters Vasona Lake. The Vasona Lake Bridge is in the background.

Sweet gum trees in the parking lots turn brilliant colors in the fall.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail approaches the Vasona Lake Bridge, which crosses Los Gatos Creek where it enters Vasona Lake.

Looking back up Los Gatos Creek just before it enters Vasona Lake

Gingko biloba trees on the lawn by the ranger's office.

The bridge from the west side. The boat docks are just north of the bridge.

The boat docks have paddleboats, sailboats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and a fishing boat for rent, run by LGS Recreation. Because of zebra mussel concerns, no outside boats may be brought into the lake.

Stand-up paddleboards.

On a summer day, the lake is full of all kinds of watercraft.

Fishing pier

Los Gatos Creek Trail along the northeast bank of the lake

The Los Gatos Creek Trail nearing the dam

The Viola Anderson Native Plant Trail below the Youth Science Institute.

Below the Youth Science Institute is a viewing platform with a telescope and binoculars for viewing wildlife. In the background is the Vasona Dam.

View of the lake from the west shore.

A small island, seen from the west side of the lake, is a protected nesting spot for birds.

At Vasona Dam, the Los Gatos Creek Trail makes a short, steep drop, then runs along the base of the dam.

View from Vasona Dam, near sunset.

View of a sunset from Vasona Dam.

Vasona dam spilling, 3/27/11.

Past Vasona Park Events

Movie night, 8/10/06

South Bay Fishing in the City, 9/24/06

Puppet show, 9/24/06

Fantasy of Lights pirate ship by the Los Gatos Creek Trail, daytime

Fantasy of Lights pirate ship at night, 2007

Halloween campfire program, 10/24/09

Silicon Valley Duck Race, 6/13/10

Silicon Valley Duck Race carnival, 6/13/10

Vasona Vibrations Concert, Klezmakers, 7/31/10

Audience dancing at the Vasona Vibrations Concert, Klezmakers, 7/31/10

Created by Ronald Horii, 9/13/10, updated 6/4/11