Morgan Hill – Labor Day marked the 50th anniversary of the Santa Clara County Parks Department, and staff members are eager to share little-known secrets on the 45,000 acres of open land enjoyed by residents.
For example, the county’s first parkland was acquired in 1924, with the purchase of 400 acres near Cupertino that would later become Stevens Cree County Park.
Since then, the county has created 28 regional parks that include more than 260 miles of trails and 10 major reservoirs.
“For 50 years, Santa Clara County Parks has taken pride in offering an array of unique, scenic and pleasing outdoor venues that serve a variety of interests,” said Santa Clara County Parks Director Lisa Killough.
Little Known “Secrets” of Santa Clara County Parks
Coyote Hellyer County Park
The Velodrome, a paved and banked oval bicycle track, is 1/5 mile around and is one of only four in the Western United States.
Mount Madonna County Park
In 1859, land and cattle baron Henry Miller purchased his first parcel of what is now known a Mt. Madonna as a place to raise cattle. Eventually he owned 13,000 acres. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, Miller built four houses at Mt. Madonna. The fourth was an elaborate home that included seven bedrooms and baths, a living room with a veranda on three sides and a 3,600-square-foot ballroom.
A late 1800s resident of the mountain, recluse poet Hiram Wentworth, is credited for naming its 1,897-foot peak “Madonna” after the Italian designation for the Virgin Mary.
Anderson Lake County Park
The park is home to remnants of a historic stone winery built in 1869.
Catfish in excess of 18 pounds have been caught in Anderson Lake.
The historic Jackson House was built in 1914 and was moved to its present location when the Anderson dam was built in 1950.
Calero County Park
Every year, a bald eagle arrives at Calero Reservoir to hang out during the winter months.
The “Calero Bat Inn” where more than 1,000 bats live is one destination for backcountry hikers.
Vasona Lake County Park
The park includes a variety of rare and interesting trees, including a species of redwood tree – Metasequoia glyptostroboides – once thought to be extinct. It’s also the home of the Roosevelt redwood tree originally planted in Campbell by President Teddy Roosevelt. Rare species of eucalyptus trees can also be found on the park grounds.
Ed Levin County Park
A rock wall made by ancient human inhabitants lines the summit of Ed Levin County Park. It snakes its way to the hills of Berkeley, constructed by unknown people for unknown reasons.
Almaden Quicksilver Park
Mining operations at what is now Almaden Quicksilver County Park date back to 1846.
The Casa Grande, the county’s second oldest building, was built in 1854.
GENERAL PARK INFO
Parks go through enough toilet paper in one
weekend to meet the needs of two families of
four for a year.
If all the cars that visited Fantasy of Lights were
lined up end to end it would be a line to San
Francisco and back.
Turf mowing at parks amounts to a mow strip to
Chicago and back each year.
All the boating at park lakes equals a round-the