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Antler Point

Joseph D. Grant County Park, Santa Clara County

Joseph D. Grant County Park Links:

April 10th, 2000

11.0 miles
2450 vertical feet
Total Time: 7:08

Rating: 7/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

Jean, Jennie, Judy, and I met at the parking lot next to Grant Lake on Mt. Hamilton Road. On the southwest side of the road lies the main park entrance, and hordes of mountain bikers. But on the northeast side, where we were, lies beautiful green rolling hills, sparkling yellow and green trees, and a bit of solitude.

We left one car there and drove a little over a mile on Mt. Hamilton Road back the way we came, and parked near the White Barn. It was nearly 11am by the time we got started, and a layer of fog and clouds still hung over the area.

After hopping over the gate, we hiked along a private dirt road (accessible to hikers) which passes by the White Barn. We soon had a nice view of a pond and the fog clouds hovering over the hills. A half dozen cattle gazed at us as we stopped to enjoy the view. Then we continued on the downhill trail, winding our way north.

Cows among the poppies

I was surprised to see moss hanging from tree limbs. It's something I figured I'd more likely see in a rain forest than a place which would be completely brown in the summer. It was actually relatively lush -- very green grass interspersed with pockets of oak and other trees of all varieties (I can't identify them myself, but the book says sycamores and alders).

Berries in a tree

Almost the entire hike consisted of walking on dirt roads. Fortunately, we didn't see many bikers. I had thought that the private road was off-limits to bikers, but we did see one, and I never did see a no-biking sign in the opposite direction (although there was one at the front gate we hopped over).

The trail didn't stay downhill for long. After about a 300 foot descent, we crossed Arroyo Aguague and started climbing. And I mean climbing steeply. In places the grade is over 30%, though these stretches are very short.

We reached a gate and turned right, hiking roughly parallel to a fence. We were now on the Washburn Trail. After much climbing we reached a nice spot for a break -- a grassy hillside underneath a single large tree (well, such places were everywhere). We could see the White Barn far below. Downtown San Jose peeked through the haze below.

Trail through the trees

We now continued our climb, this time up a series of false summits. We passed 4, maybe 5 or more false summits until we finally reached a ridge topped with a perfectly placed wooden bench. This was our lunch stop. By this time, the clouds had burned off and we had great views. From here, we had a commanding view of the area, including the Santa Cruz mountains peeking over a layer of clouds. Behind us, Lick Observatory loomed on top of Mount Hamilton.

Lunch break

After lunch, we descended to Deer Valley, which was a grassy meadow filled with yellow flowers. We turned left onto the Canada De Pala Trail and skirted the western edge of the valley. We reached the Line Shack, which is just a shack, perhaps a deserted horse stable. From there we turned right and started another steep climb until we found another wooden bench. Jean never met a bench she didn't like, so we stopped briefly before turning left up the short spur trail to Antler Point, elevation 2995. A couple of bikers were already there, but they left shortly after we arrived. There's another wooden bench there, though for most people their feet won't touch the ground.

Tree looming over the trail

Antler Point would be a magnificent place to watch sunset. Unfortunately, backpacking is not allowed, so we had to be content with the view during the late afternoon. We could see the southern portion of the Bay. Moffett Field was clearly visible, and most of the South Bay, although it was covered by a white haze. Behind us, to the east, the hills were already starting to turn brown. But in front of us, everything was green. The series of trails leading home was clearly visible on the ridge going south.

View from Antler Point

After enjoying the view, we headed back along the Pala Seca Trail. As we did so, we started to see more and more people -- both hikers and bikers, who were coming up from Grant Lake. When we reached another section of the Canada De Pala Trail, I had to give in to my allergies and sedate myself with half an antihistamine. Experience had shown me that a whole antihistamine would leave me groggy for at least the next 24 hours, so I was trying just half for the first time. It worked pretty well.


We turned left onto the Canada De Pala Trail and then right onto the Halls Valley Trail. As we descended, the vegetation changed. Whereas before it was open grasslands, now the trees were thick and the ground covered with vines and bushes. As we descended we could see Grant Lake below. Soon we were at the lake, watching families picnicking and people fishing.

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