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Santa Clara Valley views from Levin Park's grassy hills.

Santa Clara Valley views from Levin Park's grassy hills Above the bustle of growing Milpitas, the serene countryside of Ed R. Levin County Park is a welcome surprise. On the western slope of the Diablo Range, the park seems little changed from its ranching days and, in fact, cattle still roam over the upper reaches of its 2,000 grassy acres. Winter is a good time to discover it; you can hike, ride horseback, fish, or picnic when days are cool and hills greened by early rains.

Steep 2,591-foot Monument Peak challenges hikers. The 3-mile route to the top via Caliente and Monument Peak trails gains 2,200 feet in elevation, so bring water and a lunch, and take it easy.

But the spectacular view is worth the climb. To the east are the blue waters of Calaveras Reservoir and corrugated hills studded with oaks; to the west and south are San Francisco Bay and the spreading development of the Santa Clara Valley. Steep hills and favorable thermals have made it a popular spot for hang gliders, and you can watch them soar almost every weekend, weather permitting. At the Sandy Wool Lake area, you may see from 30 to 50 gliders each weekend day. It's also a training area--novices gain experience on the smaller hills. You can picnic at tables here or try your luck fishing in the lake.

At the park's south end, you'll find more hiking, a small duck pond, and riding stables (open 9 to dusk daily); horse rentals cost $10 per hour.

The 15-mile system of trails has just been reworked and newly signed; still, it's a good idea to pick up a trail map at the park office. Hours are 8 to dusk daily; admission is $2 per car on weekends and holidays. From Interstate 680 about 10 miles north of San Jose, take Calaveras Road 5 miles east.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Ed R. Levin County Park, California
Date:Nov 1, 1986
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