Park & Trail Map




Description & Views


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Other Trail Links

Alviso Marina County Park 11/27/10

Guadalupe River Trail, Hwy 101 to Alviso

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail

High Tide at the Palo Alto Baylands Preserve and Byxbee Park, 11/26/11

Facebook Photo Albums:

Stevens Creek Trail 1/29/12

Guadalupe River Trail, Downtown San Jose to Alviso, 2/5/12

Permanente Creek Trail, Stevens Creek, Shoreline Park, 7/1/12

Stevens Creek Trail


Note: this page is an update to the original page on the Stevens Creek Trail that I made for the Bay Trail project. This is a prototype that may eventually replace that page.

Stevens Creek, named after early Cupertino settler Capt. Elisha Stephens, is a 20-mile long waterway that starts on the slopes of Black Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It begins in a lush forest in Monte Bello Open Space Preserve . It flows through the earthquake rift of Stevens Canyon and fills Stevens Creek Reservoir . Below that, it runs through the heart of the Silicon Valley through heavily developed urban areas and flows into San Francisco Bay. Though not a part of the Bay Trail itself, the Stevens Creek Trail is a heavily-used feeder trail and an important gateway to the Bay Trail. The 4.8-mile Stevens Creek Trail, which follows along the banks of Stevens Creek, is not a long trail, but it is one of the best-developed and most ambitious trails in the Bay Area. The existing trail cost around $30 million to build, with funding from a wide range of public and private sources. Building the trail required the construction of several bridges and underpasses, the planting of thousands of trees and shrubs, and the installation of numerous amenities, like benches, signs, and drinking fountains. South of Hwy 101, the trail was built through already-established suburban neighborhoods and along busy major roads, including State Highway 85, the Stevens Creek Freeway. However, because of the extensive landscaping and amenities, the trail is like a natural linear park. It can serve as a model for how to turn previously-unused land into an attractive and vital recreational resource.

The Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View was built in sections called "Reaches." Reach 1 was completed in 1991 and runs from Shoreline at Mountain View Park to L'Avenida Avenue. Reach 2 was completed in 1996 and runs from L'Avenida Avenue to Whisman School. Reach 3, dedicated in 1999, runs from Whisman School to Landels Park. The latest section, which was dedicated on October 12, 2002, is Reach 4, Segment 1 , which runs from Landels Park, over busy Hwy 237, to Yuba Drive. In 2008, it was extended from Yuba Drive to El Camino Real.

In 2009, Reach 4 Segment 2 Phase 1 was opened from El Camino Real through a field that was the homestead of the Sleeper family. This area is known as Sleeper Open Space. The trail runs through the former orchard here, then crosses over the creek on a bridge and ends at a small park at the corner of Sleeper Avenue and Franklin Avenue.

Groundbreaking for the latest section of the trail, Reach 4 Segment 2 Phase 2, took place in March 2011. It was dedicated on June 23, 2012. The trail was extended farther south through the Sleeper Open Space, then over Hwy 85 via a bridge. The bridge ends at the intersection of Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way, 0.2 miles from the Mountain View-Sunnyvale border. This section adds only 1500 feet to the trail, but it has an enormout impact in terms of trail access. This allows the highly-populated neighborhoods east of Hwy 85 easy and safe access to the trail and to the parks, schools, medical facilities, neighborhoods, and businesses west of Hwy 85 and all the way up the Stevens Creek Trail.

For the City of Mountain View, its ultimate goal is to extend the trail another mile to Mountain View High School, at the city limits near Los Altos and Sunnyvale. It is estimated that this will cost $10-12 million, and it is currently unfunded and not scheduled. From there, the job falls to Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Cupertino to continue the trail.

From the south end of Sleeper Open Space, Stevens Creek flows under Hwy 85 to the east of the freeway and forms the Mountain View-Sunnyvale border. The creek is hidden behind sound walls. South of that, it crosses under Hwy 85 again and runs along the Los Altos-Sunnyvale border to Homestead Road. It then runs through Cupertino, passing several parks and golf courses. Cupertino is building trails along the creek in Blackberry Farms and McClellan Ranch. Sunnyvale and Los Altos are studying it.

Stevens Creek enters county land at Stevens Creek Reservoir County Park . Trails run along the creek in the  park. Stevens Creek Reservoir occupies 93 acres of the 1095 acre park. Fishing and boating are popular here. Above the reservoir, the creek runs up Stevens Canyon through private land along Stevens Canyon Road. After the road ends, the creek enters Upper Stevens Creek County Park and Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. These adjoining parks comprise 4664 acres of rugged forested open space along the flanks of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In Monte Bello, trails lead along the upper reaches of spring-fed Stevens Creek, which runs year round. Stevens Creek follows along the rift of the San Andreas Fault in this area.

The long-range goal is to extend the Stevens Creek Trail all the way up the creek to its headwaters in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There, it will intersect the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Like the Bay Trail, the Bay Area Ridge Trail is a 400-mile proposed trail network that runs around the Bay Area, except it runs along the Bay Area's ridge tops. The Stevens Creek Trail can thus form a connector between these 2 huge trail networks, which together will form over 800 miles of recreational trails.

At this time, the Stevens Creek Trail starts at the intersection of Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way in Mountain View, then follows Stevens Creek all the way to the Bay Trail, which runs to Shoreline at Mountain View Park. Between Landels Park and Hwy 101, the Stevens Creek Trail runs through densely-populated suburban neighborhoods and by several neighborhood parks and schools. From 101 to Crittenden Lane, it runs past a series of high-tech business parks, mobile home parks, and NASA's Ames Research Center. Beyond that it reaches the trails at Shoreline at Mountain View. There, 2 bridges lead over to the east bank of the creek, where a gravel levee road runs by NASA, the Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area, and former salt ponds to the creek's mouth on San Francisco Bay.

The trail provides a safe and scenic escape for thousands of city dwellers to reach the parks and nature preserves by the Bay. The trail crosses over and provides access to the VTA Light Rail line and the Caltrain line along Central Expressway. The Light Rail line serves hundreds of thousands of people in the Santa Clara Valley. Using the Light Rail and the Stevens Creek Trail, people from as far away as the Almaden Valley in San Jose can access the Bay Trail in Mountain View. Using Caltrain, people from as far away as Gilroy can reach the Bay through the Stevens Creek Trail, as well as people from up the Peninsula and San Francisco. The Stevens Creek Trail is thus a strategic place to begin this tour of the Bay Trail in Mountain View.

For further information on the Stevens Creek Trail, call (650) 903-6392. The Friends of Stevens Creek Trail is a community group working to promote the trail. They are at: McClellan Ranch Park, 22221 McClellan Road, Cupertino, CA 95014, (408) 255-5780, (415) 903-6067.

Access Information

From the Peninsula and East Bay, to reach the El Camino Real entrance near the south end of the Stevens Creek Trail, take Hwy 101 to Hwy 85 southbound to the El Camino Real exit. The El Camino Real trail head is right next to Hwy 85. There is no parking dedicated for the trail, but public parking is nearby in shopping centers and side streets. VTA Bus Route 22 stops by the shopping center a half block from the trail head.

To reach the Dale/Heatherstone entrance, currently the start of the trail, take El Camino Real east of Hwy 85. Turn right on Dale Avenue. The trail entrance is at the bridge on the corner of Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way. There is no parking lot, but you can park along the street.

To reach the Sleeper Avenue entrance, take El Camino Real west of Hwy 85. Turn left on Grant Avenue. Turn left on Sleeper Avenue, which is next to Cuesta Park. The trail entrance is at the corner of Sleeper Avenue and Franklin Avenue. This is a neighborhood entrance. There is no parking lot here, but there is a small park. You can park along the street, but it is better to park at Cuesta Park on Grant Avenue and Cuesta Drive. Cuesta Park is the largest urban park in Mountain View. It has parking lots, BBQ facilities, a bocce ball court, children's playground, horseshoe area, large lawn areas, picnic areas, tennis courts, volleyball court, and rest rooms. From there, cross over Grant Avenue, then walk or bike down Sleeper Avenue to the trail entrance.

To reach the next trail head north of El Camino, head west on El Camino Real from Highway 85. Turn right on Yuba Drive and follow it to its end to reach the Yuba Drive trail head. Parking is available on Yuba Drive and at the trail entrance.

To reach the Landels Park trail head, continue west on El Camino Real. Turn right on Calderon, then right on West Dana Street. Alternatively, to reach Landels Park from the south, take Hwy 85 northbound and exit at Evelyn Avenue. Turn left onto Evelyn, then left on Calderon Avenue. Turn left on West Data Street. Turn into the parking lot at Edith Landels School. Note that public parking is not allowed during weekdays from 7 am to 4 pm. During those times, park on Dana. A sign by the sidewalk at the end of the parking lot marks the Landels Park Trail entrance. Landels Park can also be accessed from Mercy Street to the south, but the city of Mountain View requests that these accesses be used by neighborhood residents only.

The Stevens Creek Trail can also be accessed from several other points along the trail, including the Caltrain and VTA Light Rail stations on Evelyn Avenue/Central Expressway. Trail entrances are also at Creekside Park, Central Avenue, Middlefield Road, Whisman Park, Moffett Blvd., La Avenida, and Crittenden Lane. The Stevens Creek Trail can also be accessed from Shoreline at Mountain View. When the new section of the Bay Trail running past Moffett Field opens, it will connect the Stevens Creek Trail with the Sunnyvale Baylands.

Description and Views

This first part of the tour begins near the current end of the trail near the Mountain View/Sunnyvale border on Heatherstone Way. The pictures were taken on 6/24/12, the day after the new bridge over Hwy 85 was dedicated.

These signs are at the border of Mountain View and Sunnyvale on Heatherstone Way. This is a densely-populated residential neighborhood. 0.2 miles ahead is the new bridge over Hwy 85. Before the bridge was opened, the only direct way for pedestrians and bicyclists in this neighborhood to reach the Stevens Creek Trail was by taking busy El Camino Real over Hwy 85, with its dangerous high-speed on-ramps and off-ramps. The new bridge opens up the Stevens Creek Trail to thousands of residents in both Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

This is the entrance to the new bridge at the corner of Heatherstone Way to the left and Dale Avenue to the right. This is a much safer way to cross Hwy 85 than taking El Camino Real. This also allows people on the west side of Hwy 85 to safely reach the neighborhoods, schools, and businesses on the east side of Hwy 85.

This is the bridge as seen from Dale Avenue.

This is a view looking back along the access ramp towards the entrance of the bridge. The ramp makes a hairpin turn. This switchback allows the ramp to make a gradual ascent, easy for everyone, yet it can be squeezed into the small space between Dale and Hwy 85.

This is a view of the bridge approach ramp after the hairpin turn.

This is a view peeking over the fence at the bridge crossing over Hwy 85, showing the massive, solid concrete design of the bridge.

This is the part of the bridge crossing over Hwy 85.

This shows details of the bridge construction. Notice the pillar with the flagstone inlay and light.

This is the ramp leading down on the west side of Hwy 85.

This is on the west side of Hwy 85 looking back up the ramp to the bridge. Notice all the plantings next to the trail.

To the left is the landscaped area shown below. The project includes the planting of 100 trees and 1600 shrubs native to the Stevens Creek watershed. Ahead is the bridge to the trail entrance on Sleeper Avenue.

This is a view looking back at the landscaped area near the Sleeper Avenue bridge. Compare this to the picture below from 2009.

This sign shows the sponsors of this new section of the trail, which cost $4.2 million. Most of it came from the City of Mountain View. $800K came from the California Natural Resouces Agency through a Proposition 84 grant. $418K came from the VTA. $400K came from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. $145K came from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

This next part of the photo tour below begins at the Sleeper Avenue entrance. They were taken on 5/23/09. The section of the Stevens Creek Trail from Sleeper Avenue to El Camino Real was opened on April 27, 2009. (See the Mountain View Voice story.) This is Phase 1 of Reach 4 Segment 2 of the trail. There was a dedication ceremony on June 13, 2009, coinciding with the opening of the Moffet Blvd. over-crossing. The pictures below are from before and after the dedication on May 23 and June 14,  2009.

The start of the trail at Sleeper Avenue.

This small park, Sleeper Park, is on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Sleeper Avenue, currently the start of the trail.

The trail crosses over Stevens Creek on a new bridge. On the other side is Sleeper Open Space.

This is the new bridge over Stevens Creek. Style-wise, it is very similar to the other creek bridges on the trail south of Hwy 101.

View of the bridge and the heavily vegetated bed of Stevens Creek.

This is next to the end of the trail, looking south. A graded dirt path leads to a small park-like area. Oak trees have been planted here, so this eventually will be an oak grove. A plaque here says this area was built with a gift from the employees of Intuit Inc. to recognize their company founder's 25th anniversary with the company.  A fence beyond this area blocked further travel south.

Looking through the fence, there is a freeway sound wall to the left next to Highway 85. A nearby sign indicates that the next section of the trail will cross over Highway 85 on a bridge, leading to Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way. This is Phase II of Reach 4 Segment 2.

Looking north, the trail runs through the Sleeper Open Space area, a former orchard. New plants and trees have been planted. Old orchard trees and ancient oaks are scattered about the area.

The trail runs between power towers.

There are several benches along the trail.

There is a wide field to the east of the trail. Ahead is the El Camino Real on-ramp to Hwy 85.

Mid-way along the Sleeper Open Spce section, the creekbed of Stevens Creek is wide open and sunny, with homes on the other bank.

Approaching El Camino Real, next to a mobile home park, the creek becomes narrower and shadier. The banks of the creek are very steep. At this time of year (May), the creek was dry.

Nearing the El Camino Real/Hwy 85 entrance.

The trail reaches the El Camino Real entrance. There is a bus stop a short distance to the left next to the shopping center. The tunnel ahead leads under El Camino Real.

The photo tour below continues from the El Camino Real trail entrance. All pictures below were taken on 1/31/2009 and 2/1/2009, except where indicated. The section of the trail from El Camino Real to Yuba Drive was opened on April 12, 2008.

The tunnel under El Camino Real is lit by lights along the tops of the walls and by a skylight in the middle.

This is the trail just past the hotel on the right.

Ahead is the Yuba Drive trail head, which has a bike rack, drinking fountain, and parking.

Bikes heading south from the Yuba trail entrance (4/13/08)

This is the reinforced concrete bridge over Hwy 237 and the Hwy 85 offramp.

The trail goes under the Hwy 85 off-ramp to Hwy 237. Hwy 85 is to the right of the trail.

The trail goes under the Dana Avenue bridge.

This pedestrian bridge, just north of Dana Avenue, leads from Landels School and Park to the trail.

In this shady section of trail north of Dana Ave, the trail splits around an island.

This huge steel 1100-foot pedestrian bridge elevates the trail over Evelyn Ave., 4-lane Central Expressway,  2 Caltrain train tracks, and the VTA Light Rail tracks. Ahead, a Light Rail trolley can be seen crossing under the bridge. The Evelyn Light Rail station is a short distance to the right down Evelyn Avenue. The Dowtown Mountain View Transit Center is a short walk to the left up Evelyn. The Transit Center is a major hub for buses, the VTA Light Rail, and Caltrain. It is the northern end of the Light Rail line. It is also at the end of Castro Street, which is lined with restaurants, shops, the Mountain View Center for the Perfoming Arts, the City Hall, and central library.

Flowering bush near the trail entrance (4/13/08)

A southbound train crossing under the pedestrian bridge.

A northbound train crossing under the pedestrian bridge.

This is the ramp leading down from the north footing of the Central Expressway bridge.

This is the trail north of the Central Expressway Bridge.

Flowering bush near the north footing of the Central Expressway Bridge (4/13/08)

The trail crosses over Stevens Creek on this bridge near the Central Avenue trail entrance.

Up until now, the trail has been to the west of Hwy 85. Here it goes under the highway, which will run to the west of the trail.

Just north of the Hwy85 undercrossing is the bridge to Creekside Park

Creekside Park (6/14/09)

The trail enters a shady section. A dirt side-trail branches off just ahead.

The dirt side trail parallels the paved the trail and runs through a grassy clearing surrounded by tall trees.

Looking south down the trail near the Middlefield Road undercrossing.

The trail branches to the right to reach Middlefield Road (6/14/09).

At the Middlefield Road under-crossing. Only a chain link fence separates the trail from Highway 85 under the bridge, which makes it a very noisy segment for a short distance before the soundwalls begin again. (6/14/09)

Looking back at the Middlefield Road undercrossing next to Hwy 85.

The shady trail north of Middlefield Road leads to the Whisman Park bridge.

The bridge to Whisman Park (6/14/09).

Whisman Park is a large park with a playground, tennis courts, picnic tables, restroom, and playing fields. Next to it is Whisman School.

Across the Easy Street from Whisman Park is the beginning of the Hetch Hetchy Trail. The round structure is an access port to the Hetch Hetchy pipeline, which runs underground through this area. The short trail follows the pipeline easement.

This is the landscaped part of the Hetch Hetchy Trail.

Across Tyrella Street is the next section of the Hetch Hetchy Trail, which is not landscaped.

The trail runs by a field next to an apartment complex, then past an abandoned nursery.

This is the other end of the Hetch Hetchy Trail at N. Whisman Road.

Back to the Stevens Creek Trail, this is the entrance to the new Moffett Blvd. pedestrian over-crossing, which was dedicated on June 13, 2009. (This picture and the pictures of the new bridge were taken on 6/14/09.) Architecturally, the bridge is very similar to the Central Expressway bridge. The path to the right leads to Moffett Blvd. For many years, Moffett Blvd. was the only at-grade road crossing on the Stevens Creek Trail.

This is a street-level view of the bridge, next to the Hwy 85 off-ramp. Moffett Blvd. is on the right. This is a busy off-ramp, and cars turning right cross the old trail route.

The signal and crosswalk at Moffett Blvd. used to be the only way for the trail to cross the road before the bridge was built. The trail entrance is on the other side of the road.

View from the inside of the bridge, looking down at the Moffett Blvd. street crossing and Hwy 85 off-ramp. Pedestrians and bicyclists can now safely cross Moffett Blvd. without having to stop and without being exposed to automobile traffic.

This is the other end of the bridge, looking back at the crosswalk and Hwy 85 off-ramp.

This is the north ramp to the bridge. The path to the left leads to Moffett. Blvd.

Just before Hwy 101, there is a small dam and fish ladder on Stevens Creek (6/14/09).

The Highway 101 undercrossing.

The ramp up from the Hwy 101 undercrossing.

Dirt ramps lead down from the paved trail to run next to Stevens Creek.

View of one of the lower paths, Stevens Creek is on the right. (9/3/07)

Stevens Creek near one of the lower paths (9/3/07)

Flowering bushes along the trail (4/13/08)

The La Avenida Trail head has an amphitheater-like rest area. On the other side of the creek is the giant wind tunnel at Ames Research Center.

The paved trail runs on top of the creek levee, while the dirt trail runs at creek level.

View of the intake and power substation for the giant wind tunnel.

Approaching the NASA Bridge and the Crittenden Lane trail head

Looking south along the trail near the NASA bridge. You can see the paved levee trail and the unpaved trail at creek level. To the right below the trail is a tree farm.

The entrance to the trail from Crittenden Lane. The NASA bridge is ahead.

View south from the NASA bridge. The Stevens Creek trail is on the right. The trails to the left are off-limits to the public. Signs say you cannot go to the right on the levee past Ames Research Center. (4/13/08)

View north of Stevens Creek from the NASA bridge. The paved trail is to the left. The unpaved levee roads are to the right. At the east end of the bridge, turn left.

The levee service road on the east side of Stevens Creek is not paved. It is not part of the Stevens Creek Trail, but it is accessible to the public. A lower road goes down to the creek level. The levee gate here shows hunting season dates. Hunters use the levee, but public access is allowed during hunting season. Ahead on the right is a NASA storage yard. NASA property ends just past the storage yard.

Heading north on the gravel levee, next to Stevens Creek. The Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area is to the right.

View across the pond at the Nature Study Area, with Moffett Field's Hangar One in the background.

After the Nature Study Area, the salt ponds begin, formerly owned by Cargill, but now under the jurisdiction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The sign board has hunting information.

To the right of the sign is a closed levee gate (6/14/09). Note that this now is the entrance to the Moffett Bay Trail, a 2.5 -mile Bay Trail connection to the Sunnyvale Baylands. 

One of the levees is accessible to the handicapped. Access is by special permission from the USFWS (9/3/07).

View along the catwalks under the power towers that cross the salt ponds. They are closed to the public.

Hunting blind in the salt pond.

Approaching the mouth of Stevens Creek.

Small dock in the salt pond. The levee beyond is off-limits. It runs along the Bay to the Guadalupe Slough.

The mouth of Stevens Creek on San Francisco Bay.

The Dumbarton Bridge and the abandoned Dumbarton train crossing can be seen in the Bay in the distance.

Head back down the trail to the NASA bridge and continue on the west side of the creek.

This is the trail just north of the Crittenden Lane entrance.

Looking back south on the trail towards NASA Ames.

A steel bridge crosses the creek and leads to the unpaved levee road. This is a view of Stevens Creek from the bridge, looking downstream.

View of the steel pedestrian/bike bridge.

There is a wooden pedestrian-only bridge that crosses over the marsh to the west of the trail.

Along the trail, next to the marsh, a viewing platform is just ahead.

This viewing platform extends into the marsh.

Ahead the trail crosses over an inlet that lets water from Stevens Creek on the right enter the marsh on the left.

This is the official end of the Stevens Creek Trail. While it is possible to cross over to the west side of the marsh along the salt pond shoreline, it is unpaved and may be muddy. The levee ahead around the salt pond currently closed to the public.

Backtrack along the trail, past the steel bridge, then head west at the next junction.

This interpretive sign is along the south edge of the Stevens Creek Tidal Marsh. The wooden bridge across the marsh can be seen ahead.

In the summer, the tidal marsh is green, while the grass along the trail is brown (7/5/07)

The trail leads the west side of the Stevens Creek Tidal Marsh.

Bikes and skaters along the trail between the tidal marsh and a drainage channel.

The trail runs along the marsh. To the left is a drainage channel and the hills of Shoreline Park.

The small peninsula ahead in the marsh leads to the base of a power tower.

The trail appears to end at the salt pond ahead, but actually, the trail turns left and enters Shoreline Park.

The trail dips down, then rises up a short distance to head into Shoreline Park.

The salt ponds here are under the jurisdiction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Catwalks lead to the power towers and are off-limits. Here ducks swim in the pond below a catwalk, with MIssion Peak in the background.

Continue to the tour of Shoreline Park


Web page developed: 2/9/2009, updated 7/2/12 by Ronald Horii
Information and opinions expressed here are the responsibility of the author.