Alum Rock South Rim Trail

Difficulty
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Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2-2.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
6.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
235 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Alum Rock South Rim Trail

The Alum Rock South Rim Trail is an unassumingly beautiful adventure in the foothills of San José that boasts wonderful scenery. Explore the area’s diversity of flora and fauna while indulging in the unique geological features—such as natural hot springs, rock walls of layered strata, and sandstone outcrops.

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Route Description for Alum Rock South Rim Trail

The Alum Rock South Rim Trail is an amazing adventure well worth the detour into the foothills from San José. Explore the lush environment abundant with a variety of vegetation and plenty of wildlife. Adults and children alike can enjoy this wonderful trail—just be sure to pack plenty of water, as you’ll surely get your heart rate up! Due to the plethora of wildlife, dogs are not permitted along this trail. Additionally, it is important to be mindful of wildlife, such as mountain lions and rattlesnakes, and wear long pants to avoid exposure to poison oak and ticks! Note that there is a $6USD parking fee required.

Explore California's oldest municipal park along the Alum Rock South Rim Trail. Offering plenty of scenery, this stimulating hike will not disappoint. Enjoy the soothing sounds of the gurgling creeks, dip your hands in the hot springs and revel in the beauty of the prolific vegetation. On a clear day, explorers will be rewarded with mesmerizing vistas of the San José cityscape below. Though this route can be enjoyed year-round, springtime adventures are the best as the creek’s surges and the flora is lush! Those seeking a more tranquil experience are encouraged to head out in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat! If you are craving a longer trek, there are plenty of other routes within the park worth exploring.

Your journey along the Alum Rock South Rim Trail begins from the parking lot off Penitencia Creek Road. Setting out from here, wander east along the Penitencia Creek Road to the Mineral Spring Trailhead. Follow the Mineral Springs Loop along the Upper Penitencia Creek, turning right over the creek via the footbridge. After intersecting with the creek, veer left and you will be diverted onto the Penitencia Creek Trail, tracking north. Wander this route through the woodlands, past the sulfur-smelling hot springs, and along the beautiful creek that cascades over the smooth sandstone boulders. Enjoy the scene of the ferns and layered canyon walls that bound the water before merging onto the South Rim Trail.

The South Rim Trail will guide you up the steep mountainside via several tightly wound switchbacks. After maneuvering the winding terrain, you will reach an overlook that boasts incredible views of the neighboring Diablo Mountains and the city of San José. Now traveling southwestward, this path affords expansive panoramas of the lush valley from the exposed terrain. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you wander. Ultimately the route will descend the mountainside via another set of switchbacks. At the junction, veer left onto the Woodland Trail. This section of the hike is shaded, guiding you through the verdant forestland abundant with lush undergrowth and wildflowers.

At the next intersection, turn right onto the Inspiration Point Trail. Follow the Inspiration Point Trail up to a scenic lookout over the rolling landscape. Revel in the beauty of the scene, then descend the trail, winding along the mountainside. Now traveling east, you will confront another juncture, turn left onto a connector trail, then right back onto the Penitencia Creek Trail. Hike this route through the meadowlands and past picnic areas and the Alum Rock Science and Nature Center, and over the creek back to the parking lot.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Alum Rock Park open?

The Alum Park Rock is open from Tuesday-Sunday from 8AM until sunset.

How long is the Alum Rock South Rim Trail?

The Alum Rock South Rim Trail is a 6.9 km hike near San José.

How much does it cost to hike the Alum Rock South Rim Trail?

The Alum Rock Park charges a parking fee of $6USD.

Are dogs permitted on the Alum Rock South Rim Trail?

No, dogs are not welcome on the Alum Rock South Rim Trail.

Insider Hints for Alum Rock South Rim Trail

  • Maintain on the worn path to avoid poison oak exposure
  • Be mindful of rattlesnakes and ticks as you explore
  • Pack plenty of water and stay hydrated along this hike
  • Wear SPF and sun protection on warm days

Getting to the Alum Rock South Rim Trail Trailhead

The Alum Rock South Rim Trail departs from the parking lot off Penitencia Creek Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Alum Rock South Rim Trail Elevation Graph

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