This is an update of my Oct 17 review:
The Stevens Creek Trail is a 5 mile paved trail for walkers, runners, toddlers, and bicyclists, running from Heatherstone Way near the Mountain View-Sunnyvale border, below El Camino Real to San Francisco Bay.
The trail starts at the corner of Dana and Heatherstone Way in a residential area of Mountain View east of Highway 85. This is the Heatherstone bridge, opened in June 2012, which crosses the six lane Highway 85.
This concrete bridge has long on-ramp approaches to the bridge. These ramps have hairpin corners requiring 180 degree turns. There are two lanes, one lane in each direction.
Bicyclists must turn 180 degrees in as few as 5 feet, to avoid traffic in the other lane. Cyclists in the inside lane have to come to a near stop to make the turn within the lane against oncoming bicyclists. We go from a near standstill up the next cross traverse ramp. No place to pick up speed before going up the bridge.
The paved trail continues on the west side of Highway 85, through grass land under transformer towers. It goes into a lighted tunnel under El Camino Real, a 6 lane road, with a skylight under the median area of the road. There are exit ramps to El Camino.
This is the first of several tunnels under roads, and all are very noisy from the vehicle traffic above, with sounds amplified off the concrete walls.
The paved trail resurfaces next to the backyard parking lot of the Hotel Zico next to the freeway, the eyesores of Mountain View!
The path goes through several narrow underpasses, at least one with a blind curve- but there is a mirror- next to the sound wall of Highway 85. These pathways are only 5 feet wide, where people have to walk in a single column, when meeting opposing traffic. No lighting in these underpasses.
Next the paved trail goes over a 350 foot concrete bridge above the 4 lane freeway 237, with fenced in sides, with ramps with hairpin curves.
We bike the 1100 foot Central Expressway Bridge, over a light rail route, 4 lanes of Evelyn Ave, 2 railroad tracks, and 4 lanes of Central Expressway. Like the Heatherstone Bridge, this bridge has long approach ramps with hairpin curves. It is a wooden plank bridge arching at its peak over the 2 railroads.
Eucalyptus trees and then redwood trees tower next to the path, emerging for another long narrow bridge, this one over Moffett Boulevard, before hitting a straightaway, going through an underpass under highway 101. The Moffett Blvd bridge, opened in 2009, has no hairpin curves, but has a very long ramp leading straight onto the bridge
The Stevens Creek is no longer hidden behind a dense foliage of shrubs and trees. The creek has ducks when the water is deeper in the winter. The trees disappear, and the shade recedes, as we are now in open grassland area, leaving the traffic noise of the highways behind us.
The path crosses a mobile home park, a tree nursery, and then NASA with the giant blimp hanger being dismantled in the background, and finally the back parking lots of Google.
There are side streets, and a resting area in this part of the trail, with bike racks and drinking fountains, but no rest rooms. The parks off the trails have rest rooms, and Shoreline Park at the end of the trail has rest rooms.
This part of the paved trail is on a raised levee, with steep inclines on each side. You do not want to have a tumble on your bike here! Purple flowers abound.
The area has no shade, but is not hot, as afternoon breezes blow from off of the nearby San Francisco Bay. Everything is slightly downhill, with the trail going straight to the Bay, with grasslands and then swampy areas on each side.
Once we reach the Bay the trail curves to the left to the north into Shoreline Park, and next to a golf course. You can see birds overhead, and a white pelican standing on the mudflats. Very smelly on the Bay itself, as it like a slough.
We reach Shoreline Park with the twin towers of the Shoreline Amphitheater, and then Shoreline Lake. The Bay trail takes over and wraps around Shoreline Lake and through the former Mountain View dump, onto a dirt trail into the Palo Alto marshlands.
The Stevens Creek trail in Cupertino goes 1 mile of residential area near DeAnza Park near highway 85, and crosses over the ten lane hwy 280, and runs into Mary Ave in Sunnyvale. This will join the Mountain View trail in the distant future.
The Stevens Creek trail gets 3 stars, as it isn't very scenic. 4 star bike/pedestrian trails: CA Orange County coastal trail, and the Kauai East Coast Path. 5 star bike/pedestrian trails: Wailea beach trail in south Maui and the Grand Canyon South Rim Trail.
Other South Bay bike trails: Vasona Park bike trail in Los Gatos, Coyote Point bike trail in San Mateo, and the Foster City bike trail.
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