Hope me find a home! Hiking/running trails near Caltrain?
January 13, 2022 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm relocating to the South Bay/Peninsula of the SF Bay Area, and I'd like to be able to walk to a Caltrain station and to a pedestrian trail. Ideally I could rent a place where I would not have to cross a four-lane highway and/or fast-moving traffic to get to either. Are there any neighborhoods near Caltrain stations that would satisfy these criteria? So far, it looks like the Mountain View Caltrain is close to the Stevens Creek Trail. Anything else (or thoughts on the Stevens Creek Trail's safety/walkability?)
posted by rogerroger to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
I wrote a huge answer, but before I post it I need to know: where do you want to go on CalTrain and how long do you want to take to get there? Both the East and South Bay have decent public transport that connects to CalTrain (and to places you might be targeting) but there's no point listing them if they do you no good. And I'm guessing that places in the line down Gilroy way were also not what you had in mind.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 10:48 PM on January 13

Best answer: Sticking to stuff I know (i.e. south of Redwood City):

Stevens Creek Trail is lovely and I have spent countless hours on it, both on foot and on a bike. You can get from the city out into the Baylands and never have to touch a road. It's full of people during the day and mostly empties out at night. It's a major commuter artery so you'll see other people in the dark during the winter (or at least that was my experience checks notes two years ago?!). It's mostly unlit, but a bike light works just fine. The biggest danger is probably people on bikes making risky passes in the narrow spots under the bridges. Mountain View is wildly expensive so be prepared for sticker shock. Apartments near the train tracks come with honks; I found it soothing but others... do not. There's also a good farmers market at the train station!

Guadalupe River Trail, right by Diridon in San Jose, is also nice once you get a bit north into the levee path segments. It's much less varied than Stevens Creek. There are usually a number of people living along the trail near downtown. We've coexisted just fine with the caveat that I'm a cis-presenting white guy and I'm usually on a bike.

The Los Gatos Creek Trail is near San Jose Diridon, but it's ~3 miles away and you'd have to take the VTA light rail a few stops or bike to not have a super long walk. I'm less familiar with this trail but I enjoy the way it winds along the creek and through the various parks.

There's a trail along 87 south of Tamien. Do not be tempted! It is, at best, useful for commuting when you don't have another option. It's a miserable experience because it's right next to the highway, narrow, the pavement is bad, and there's all kinds of debris on the path.

Honorable mention goes to California Ave which puts you about two miles from the Stanford Dish trails (and also has a good farmers market).

Since you mentioned running: El Camino is a big mental barrier. It's six lanes of traffic the whole way and I end up sticking to one side or the other depending on where I'm living.

On preview, this is a huge answer that more-or-less confirms your initial interest in Mountain View but I hope it helps!
posted by Brassica oleracea at 12:46 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you have wiser heads with better experience advising you here, but I would add that a couple minutes poking around on https://www.walkscore.com/CA/San_Francisco might prove fruitful: they have a transit time tool, info for bike-ability as well as walkability, and for a particular address you can see things like "what's a 20 minute walk from here" and "does that include a grocery score" and "how about transit" etc.
posted by adekllny at 6:10 AM on January 14

Best answer: I lived in Mountain View & Sunnyvale for 20 years and I recommend looking in Mountain View, north of the Central Parkway. Then you can walk (or bike) over the Stevens Creek Trail bridge to cross said parkway. Alternatively, look in Sunnyvale between the Central Parkway and the 101, but hardly any apartments. Of course the trouble with all inexpensive housing around there is it's the closest to the train tracks, so noisy.
posted by Rash at 8:56 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

As for safety of the Stevens Creek Trail, I never had any trouble, commuted along it on my bicycle once or twice a week. In places, it's quite wonderful.
posted by Rash at 8:59 AM on January 14

Response by poster: Thanks all for the answers so far! I'm coming from the East Bay so I think I may have some sticker shock but not as much as coming from elsewhere in the country.

How much is that froggie in the window, I am targeting the Sunnyvale/Mountain View Caltrain stops.
posted by rogerroger at 9:20 AM on January 14

Best answer: I'll talk Mountain View, because CalTrain station is also on the VTA light rail line. Point being that if you were CalTrain connected, rather than actually on CalTrain, you might have more choices.

So, Levi's Stadium has a VTA stop and is right next to Guadalupe creek, and a different part of the footpath mentioned earlier (the creek footpath runs maybe 9 miles from SJ centre to the Bay) and River Oak station is next to Coyote Creek (which takes you both further out and again all the way into downtown). In fact, you can get to River Oak station via 5 minutes of off-road walking from Lick Mill Blvd, so there's more housing there to choose from. There are some single family homes around those spots (mostly in HOAs, I'd judge), but on top of that there's an absolute ton of leased apartment complexes. Do examine the timetables, though, the VTA light rail is sloooow.

Further round the VTA you get close to Alum Rock park via the Penetencia Creek trail, but I think the journey round to Mountain View would be too long for you.

There's a VTA-BART cross link at Milpitas by the Great Mall, adding to your transport options.

Not what you asked for exactly, but the aim was to give you food for thought.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 2:28 PM on January 14

Can't read the other responses, but downtown San Mateo seems to fit your bill? No large road to cross, the station and tracks are in the middle of a residential/transitional/downtown area and there are, I believe, trails/decent enough pedestrian paths to the Bay.
posted by flamk at 12:53 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

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