San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail Facts

Biking or hiking the Trail will be a grand, grand trek when it's finished. We'll be able to go all the way from Prospect Road to the San Francisco Bay Trail near Sunnyvale Baylands Park!

The following Trail information is in question and answer format. You may want to refer to the VTA Bikeways Map while you read. The Bikeways Map is the easiest place to trace city streets and the Creek corridor.

1. Why does the Trail name, San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail, have that "slash" in the middle?

Saratoga Creek changes its name at Monroe Street in Santa Clara and becomes San Tomas Aquino Creek.

2. Give a short description of the planned Trail route

The 12-mile planned Trail roughly parallels San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek from the San Francisco Bay Trail at Highway 237 to Prospect Road. Northern and southern sections of the Trail follow the Creek corridor and are off-street. The mid-section of the Trail leaves the Creek corridor near Monroe Street in Santa Clara and follows bike lanes on city streets. The Trail rejoins the Creek corridor at Barnhart Ave in Cupertino.

(For a more detailed description of the Trail route, see the answer to Question 4.)


3. The Trail traverses three cities, San José, Cupertino and Santa Clara. Is there a master plan?


4. The Master Plan divides the Trail into segments called "reaches". Where are these reaches located and what is their construction status?

Visualizing the location of the various Trail segments will be easier if you refer to the Bikeways Map as you read. Starting from the north end of the Trail:

Note: Our construction dates for Reaches 1-3 are taken from the City of Santa Clara website.


5. Can we see a detailed map of the San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail?

There is a detailed map of the proposed Trail in the Master Plan. We've been describing the proposed primary Trail route which the Master Plan refers to as the "trail alignment". The Master Plan also includes proposed alternate street bike paths and spur trails off the primary Trail in the Creek corridor. The Master Plan Map shows all of these: the primary "trail alignment", alternate bike routes, and spur trails. Details of completed Trail sections may vary slightly from the Master Plan Map. Some items shown on the Map may never be built.

As a reference resource this website has photocopy images of the Master Plan Map for the 6 Reaches. These are large files and will take a few minutes to download if you don't have a broadband connection. Total download sizes and estimated download times in min:sec for a 56.6k connection are noted.

See also the Map Legend. The primary Trail route ("trail alignment") is denoted by a heavy broken line in the Legend.


6. Why does Reach 4 leave the Creek corridor and follow street bike lanes?

Quoting from the Master Plan draft:
Saratoga Creek between Monroe Street and Pruneridge Avenue can not accommodate a trail alignment. This section of the Creek was widened by the Santa Clara Valley Water District for flood control....As a result of these flood control improvements, the top-of-bank is inadequate to accommodate a trail.

7. Why does "our" section of the primary Trail exit the Creek corridor at Castle Glen Ave?

Environmental conservation dictated the decision to make the trail along the Creek corridor south of Castle Glen a soft-surface spur off the main Trail. Much of the original Creek bank and adjacent vegetation areas are gone along the 12-mile Trail. However, we have in "our" Reach something rare for the Trail, a section of what the Master Plan calls "quality habitat"...which is ours to preserve!

The 1999 Master Plan described the area south of Castle Glen and the decision to take the primary Trail route away from the Creek corridor as follows:

This area is currently being used by local residents for walking and nature observation. The site is extensively vegetated with a remnant oak woodland. This quality habitat is best preserved for wildlife and nature interpretation. Thus, the main trail alignment, designated to accommodate multiple uses, is routed through the Murdock Park and along city streets to Prospect Road.

8. The Master Plan for Reach 5 includes a Trail spur which runs along the Creek corridor north from Barnhart Ave to Stevens Creek Blvd. Are there any plans to build this spur?

Building this spur would definitely have environmental, recreational, and local-connection benefits for us. We haven't discovered any plans to build this spur but we'll keep looking for more information! Lack of concrete plans doesn't necessarily mean it will never be built.

Trace the location of this Trail spur on the Master Plan map for Reach 5. The proposed spur (represented by a narrow broken line) starts at the intersection of Barnhart with the Saratoga Creek corridor. The spur runs north along the Creek, passes under Highway 280, and skirts the HP campus for a short stretch before ending at Stevens Creek Blvd.

This spur would traverse a large chunk of creekside land that seems to cry out for habitat restoration. Building the spur would increase the local area available to us for strolling, biking, and nature appreciation. The spur would also provide pedestrian and bike access to shopping areas at Lawrence Expressway and Stevens Creek Blvd.