The Stevens Creek Trail

The 4.8-mile long Stevens Creek Trail meanders along the banks of its namesake, Stevens Creek. The 20-mile waterway originates from water flowing off the slopes Black Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountains, winding its way through the Silicon Valley and eventually emptying into the San Francisco Bay.

Stevens Creek Trail, one of the most highly developed pedestrian and bike trails in the Bay Area, cost $30 million to create, the funds being secured from a myriad of both public and private sources. Construction of the trail included building numerous bridges and underpasses, installation of benches, signage and drinking fountains as well as the planting of thousands of trees, bushes and other landscaping along it’s almost 5 mile route. South of highway 101, the trail was created in established suburban areas and alongside major thoroughfares, such as highway 85. But thanks to its prolific landscaping and amenities, it serves not only as a ‘linear park’ and a vital, attractive recreational resource for the Silicon Valley but also as a critical gateway to the 500-mile Bay Trail.

Running through tidal marshlands and natural stream and river habitats, Stevens Creek Trail offers a variety of leisure and educational opportunities. Bay Area residents use the trail’s 5-mile lengths for walking, jogging, exercising their dogs, bicycling, skateboarding, inline skating and even commuting. It’s primary access point is at Shoreline Park but there are a variety of entrances throughout the city. Host to quail, hawks, racoons, opossums and other native wildlife, the natural habitats found along the trail promote tremendous opportunities for nature enthusiasts. The trail is connected to Rancho San Antonio, Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area, and eventually will join with hundreds of acres of open space in the Bay Area.

The portion of Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View was constructed in manageable, north-south segments called ‘Reaches’. Reach 1 was finished in 1991 and stretches from Shoreline to L’Avenida Avenue. Reach 2, completed in 1996, picked up at L’Avenida Avenue and terminated at Whisman School. 1999 saw the completion of Reach 3 from Whisman to Landels Park. The final section, Reach 4, Segment 1 was finished in October 2002 and ended at Yuba Drive. In 2008, it was lengthened to El Camino Real. 2009 brought about Reach 4, segment 2, extending the trail from El Camino Real through the Sleeper Open Space Preserve, once part of the extensive property owned by the Sleeper family.

The final section of the trail began in March of 2001 and was opened for use in June 2012. Adding only 1,500 feet, this portion provides tremendous safe and easy access to the trail from a variety of neighborhoods, schools, parks and businesses along highway 85.

The City of Mountain View plans to eventually lengthen the trail another mile to Mountain View High School. The estimated cost to construct this ‘Reach’ of the trail is $10 to $12 million. This portion of the project remains underfunded and as such, work has not yet been scheduled. Once this final piece of the Stevens Creek Trail is in place, Mountain View will hand over continuation of the trail to its surrounding cities of Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Cupertino. In fact, Cupertino has added a .7 mile section along McClellan Road, past the 4-H farm and McClellan Park community gardens and terminating at Blackberry Farm Park.

The eventual end-game for the trail is to continue it to its source in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where it will intersect the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a 350+ mile trail winding along the ridges of the Bay Area’s mountains.