Last week I had the opportunity to ride my bicycle on the Stevens Creek Train in Mountain View. I drove my car to where Heatherstone Way joined Dale Avenue in Mountain View next to Hwy 85 where the trail begins in the South near Sunnyvale. This is not the best place to get on the trail because there is an overpass bridge that crosses over Hwy 85 that requires you to immediately assumed about 30 feet to the overpass. I walked my bicycle to the top of this overpass.
Overall the trail was about 5 mile long and terminated at Shoreline where it intersected the Bay Trail, another very nice bicycle trail worth exploring later. More than half the trail followed the Hwy 85 sound wall, sometime right against it but most of the time sometime a short distance from it, and crosses roads and freeways along the way so the sound of cars was present and occasionally loud especially when crossing freeways but car were not visible most of the time. There were exits along the way to other streets but the trail itself never intersected any streets but instead bridges them. The entire trail is paved and well maintained with a lot of wildlife, trees, and vegetation along the way. There are only a few spots where Steven Creek itself is visible until you approach the bay near Shoreline. It has the feel of being close to nature in spite of traffic noise, much nicer than the much shorter way overdeveloped Stevens Creek Trail in Cupertino.
There were some rest stops along the way and occasional information plaques. Walkers and joggers also shared this trail. The trail is not new and must have cost tens of millions to build because of all the bridges crossing streets and highways (Hwy 85 and Hwy 101) along the way. Yet it maintains the appearance of a trail in the open spaces. I wished I lived within easy bicycle riding distance to the trail so I could ride it daily but it is about 7-8 hazardous miles from where I live. This trail is suitable for people of all ages and riding abilities. I am a senior with health issues so riding is not easy but this trail wasn’t that difficult except at a couple of overpasses where you had to ascend some distance to get over. But I was able to ride the entire length round trip except at the very beginning as I said. It is worth the effort even if you can’t do the entire 10 mile round trip. It took be a little over an hour for the entire ride. I’d rate this trail a 7 out of 10 just because of the street noise. But for a trail that goes through the heart of a busy city and over streets and freeway this is one amazing trail and deserves a 12 for the love and effort that went into it.
The trail should certainly serve as a model for other bay area cities to follow. It shows that Mountain View take bicycles and pedestrians seriously and puts its money where its mouth is and planned long ahead. My hat off to the city of Mountain View for providing its citizens a safe haven to walk, jog, and bicycle safely away from car traffic and providing a very pleasant trail for these activities. I wish Cupertino citizens would try out this trail on their bicycles or simply walking this first class trail. If you plug your ears or listen to music to drown out the background road noise at places you would think you were miles away from any city most of the time. It is well worth going to over and over again.
It is unfortunate that Cupertino never considered pedestrians and bicycle paths when planning out the city. Now putting in bicycle trails will be far more difficult. The Union Pacific Railroad trail which is currently undeveloped and hazardous to bicycle is a perspective trail that should be seriously considered by the city.