Ed Levin County Park

Family picnic or gnarly hike? You can have it both ways at Ed Levin County Park.

Blanketing 1500 acres of the Diablo Range foothills just southeast of the San Francisco Bay, rambling Ed Levin County Park enjoys a pleasantly split personality. The hypercivilized southern half, which forms a U-shape around the county’s Spring Valley Golf Course, consists of lawns, a playground, an off-leash dog park, a lake and a pond (both stocked with fish), four large group picnic areas, an historic cemetery, a youth group camp area with room for 200 giggling teenagers and a staging area for hangliders and paragliders. On the outskirts of these amenities lie hills lined with charming trails that meander through oak woodland and grassland-covered hillside, sometimes steeply but always manageably.

The park’s northern half is a whole different story. The iconic, barren foothills of the East Bay and northern Santa Clara County include some specimens that rise to considerable heights, and the summit of one of them, Monument Peak (2594 ft), lies just outside Ed Levin’s northern edge, in Mission Peak Regional Preserve. Most of the northern section, therefore, consists of steep, grand foothills dotted with grazing cattle and terrific views of the Bay that improve steadily as compensation for the relentless elevation gain. Before you know it, you’re looking down on raptors floating below.

Hilltromper signup ad

The bucolic experience would feel truly remote if not for the mini-mansions plunked just outside the park’s perimeter. But it’s a beautiful getaway, without the hordes of selfie-seekers charging up nearby Mission Peak, with a nice place to picnic afterwards to boot.

Hangliders and paragliders affiliated with the Wings of Rogallo Flight Club can launch from 300, 600 and 1750 feet perches via Launch Site and Monument Peak roads.

BEST TIME TO GO: Winter and spring, when the hills are green and the temperature is warm, not blistering.

BEWARE: Wild pigs in the park’s northern reaches, sunburn and dehydration on exposed slopes in hot weather.

WHEEL HELL, HORSE HEAVEN: Mountain bikes are limited to about 2 miles of steep, rutted (albeit very scenic) trail that doubles as part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Horses, however, enjoy access to almost all the park’s 19 miles of trail.

—Traci Hukill

Ed R. Levin County Park, 3100 Calaveras Rd, Milpitas. 408.262.8960. Learn more at the official Ed. R. Levin County park website. View the location of Ed Levin Park here.

Directions: From Highway 680 in Milpitas, take the Calaveras Road exit east. It runs directly into the park.


Spring Valley Trail with Los Coches Ridge Trail Loop
2.3 miles; 1 hr 15 min; 360 ft elev. gain; moderate
A short climb to a hilltop view followed by a mellow return along Los Coches Creek and the Nature Trail.

Mountain Biking
Calera Creek/Agua Caliente Trail
2 miles; 1 hr by bike; 640 ft elev. gain; strenuous
The park’s only mountain bike trail, on a horse- and hiker-friendly segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, starts out mellow enough, then climbs big hills on a steep, rutted road for great views and a bone-rattling charge downhill.