Uvas Canyon County Park

Tucked away outside Morgan Hill, down country roads desperate for upkeep, at the base of the mountains and just beyond a curiously located Swedish heritage center, lies the hidden gem of Uvas Canyon County Park. Featuring six miles of trails, half-a-dozen waterfalls and a 25-site campground shaded by Oak and Bay trees, this park is short on quantity but long on quality. Hikers will follow winding creek beds as they carve a path, punctuated by crashing waterfalls, through a lush forest of tanbark oak, coast redwood and Douglas fir.

The park is formed around Swanson Creek. Fed by natural springs, it runs year-round, while the addition of winter and spring rains send the creek into overdrive. Its roaring flow is audible from high above on the ridge, drowning out hikers and birds alike. Plentiful water and warm weather create a surprisingly moist and humid environment beneath the canopy where ferns and mosses thrive. From the park entrance, visitor can choose to hike the sweat inducing hikes to Knibb’s Knob or Alec Canyon. Or explore the park’s jewel, the scenic Waterfall Loop and Contour Trail.

A perfect place for day-trips or even a weekend, Uvas Canyon County Park offers an extensive picnic ground as well as twenty-five campsites, available year round at $30 a night and complete with flush toilets and free, untimed showers. However, water conservation is still the name of the game. Dogs are allowed on all trails in Uvas Canyon, but must remain leashed. Day passes are $6 and well worth it.

CANINE COMPANIONS: Uvas Canyon is dog friendly, but a six-foot leash is required. Campsites allow for two dogs.

YOUR MOTHER WOULD TELL YOU TO: Watch your step! Stone steps and pathways can be slippery.

MADE IN THE SHADE: Uvas Canyon is heavily forested and most trails are very shady. A great place to hike without getting scorched.

WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS: Be careful at wet times of the year, portions of the Contour trail can be too flooded to cross.

—By Christian Yungert

8518 Croy Rd, Morgan Hill, CA. (408) 779-9232. Camping reservations can be made by calling (408) 355-2201 or at View the official website for Uvas Canyon County Park.


Waterfall Loop
Less than 1-mile round trip; easy.
An easy 1-mile stroll through the park's lower region, complete with plenty of streams and waterfalls. Grab a pamphlet and increase your natural history knowledge on the self-guided tour that follows Swanson Creek as it meanders through stone and fallen trees, then pours over steep rock faces the water has been carving away at for years.

Contour Trail
Less than 3 miles; moderate.
Trailhead begins at the turnaround point of the Waterfall Loop and narrows as you wind past the memorable Basin and Upper Falls. As you rise above the lush and humid canyon floor, you’ll walk near the ridgeline and enjoy rolling trails and views of the valley below before returning to the park entrance.

Alec Canyon
3 miles roundtrip. Elevation climb of 1600ft; moderate.
The Alec Canyon trail will take you away from the center of the park as you investigate Alec Creek, the aptly named Triple Falls, and Old Logger Camp.

Knibb’s Knob
3.5 miles roundtrip; strenuous.
For the more adventurous hikers, make the climb to Knibb’s Knob, which offers an incredible view from 2694 feet up the mountain.