San Jose Trails report, and a South Bay creek trail cleanup this weekend

Many of our creekside trails have been underwater for several weeks after this season’s epic winter storms. The rivers are finally subsiding, exposing a mess of mud and debris. Maybe you can’t donate $5 million in flood relief like self-made billionaire Kieu Hoang did last week, but you can spare ten bucks for a shovel, or $80 for a chainsaw, or even an hour or two of your time this weekend.

Guadalupe River Trail Trimble Road mud

TL;DR summary: Guadalupe River Trail cleanup under Montague Expressway, 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. Saturday, March 11, 2017. Bring water, good shoes or boots, shovel, handsaw, or chainsaw. Park at Qorvo, 3099 Orchard Drive, San Jose, CA and walk up to the trail. Other instructions in the final section below.

Guadalupe River Trail Report

You can continue to monitor trail flooding for the Guadalupe River Trail and other South Bay trails at this trail flooding status page, but mud and debris does confound the status a bit. Here’s the portion of the Guadalupe Trail in San Jose that I know as of the morning of Tuesday, March 7, 2017. I anticipate Hwy 101 and Trimble will be completely open sometime on Wednesday.

  • The trail across downtown San Jose remains a mess. I know of no plans to clean this up anytime soon (though please tell me if you know otherwise).
  • Julian Street to Airport Parkway is open and mostly clear, though might need to choose between upper vs lower trail to avoid deep mud. The deep mud is mostly on the upper trail; I shoveled a path clear on the upper trail between Hedding and 880 but the lower trail is the better option now.
  • Airport Parkway underpass has some deep mud that I haven’t touched yet. I might dig that out Wednesday morning (but after Bike Pool)
  • Highway 101 underpass still has water on it as of right now. It’s just barely passable now by bike, with the water just below bottom bracket level. There’s a curb to walk on if you want to keep your feet dry. I predict this will be passable Wednesday morning. The mud here is a sandy silt. Photo from this morning at https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWCa0DABju/
  • Trimble Road underpass has about two to three inches of water, which means you can pedal across without damaging your bottom bracket or getting your feet wet. The mud under the water is very slimy so be careful. I shoveled a path to the water line on both approaches. Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWFoiogC3Q/ and https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWLhaxgpnZ/.
  • Montague Expressway is still very deep with large limbs and piles of debris blocking the trail. I think a pile of mud is keeping water on the trail from draining into the river. Saws, strong backs, and multiple shovels will be needed to open this. I’ve played Frogger crossing Montague the past couple of days but it’s a pretty hazardous location to play this game. Wednesday update: Water at Montague is below bottom bracket level, but a large limb still blocks the path. During Lupe Bike Pool this morning Ihui, Kate and I chopped a few smaller branches away at the river side of the path, so the trail is just passable if you walk on the curb (far left side of the trail if you’re headed north towards the Bay).

    Guadalupe River Trail under Montague Expressway after floods  March 2017

Creek cleanup with the South Bay Clean Creek Coalition

The South Bay Clean Creek Coalition do good work with trash cleanup, and they’ve organized post-flood cleanups this Saturday, March 11, 2017 for the Los Gatos Creek at Auzerais; the Guadalupe River at Willow Street & Highway 87 near Tamien Station; and Coyote Creek at Williams Street near Olinder Elementary School. This is more of a trash pickup event than clearing mud from what I understand. Cleanup organizers provide tools and other supplies. You provide your own water bottle, heavy soled shoes, gloves, sunscreen, hat and long pants. Please read these instructions and then RSVP so organizers know how to many to plan for.

My own ad-hoc Guadalupe River cleanup at Montague

I’ve collected a lot of the low-hanging fruit by scooping mud from the Guadalupe River trail at several locations between downtown San Jose and Montague Expressway, such as the approach to Trimble Road show above. I need tools and muscle that I don’t have available to clear the mess under Montague Expressway. At a minimum, somebody needs to show up with a chainsaw, a pruning saw, or maybe even a good set of pruning shears to lop off bits of branches. A couple of strong backs and additional shovels would be nice to have as well. You’ll want good shoes or boots, gloves, sunscreen, eye protection and water. Anything you wear will get filthy.

I’ll be at the trail under Montague at about 10:45 A.M. this Saturday, March 11, 2017 and I plan to work until 1 P.M. Qorvo has kindly given us permission to park in their back lot next to the trail at 3099 Orchard Drive in San Jose. Please let me know if you think you can make it. I and other trail users will thank you.

True story: Two women on bikes told me “You’re a rock star!” as they enthusiastically expressed their gratitude to me just last night just north of Hedding Street, and I was covered head-to-toe in muck. Your mileage may vary but I assure your efforts will be appreciated.

17 Comments

  • Rene J Clabaugh
    March 7, 2017 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I have been watching the water level o the gage at 101 ans GRT and believe the trail to be at about 7 feet of water. Of course it drains better if there is less water in the river. See this link:

    http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?gage=gsjc1&wfo=mtr

    101/GRT and Montague were 3″ deep on the side away from the river. Can’t see what’s under the water, so be careful. Trimble was 1″ deep. Water was clear. Shovles needed for unblocking the drain slots in the river-side curb.

  • Devon
    March 8, 2017 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m down to help. I have access to a chain saw but i need to service it. I can definitely bring shovel and broom.

  • March 8, 2017 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Devon. Shovel and broom are definitely needed. We might have a chainsaw on the way from someone else. I was able to cut smaller branches with a handsaw this morning so I think we can get away with tools like that. Looking forward to seeing you.

  • March 8, 2017 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rene and thanks. Seven feet on USGS gauge is also my benchmark for passable vs impasssable under 101.

    At Montague I cut smaller branches at west side of trail along that curb, so the path is now just barely passable if you can squeeze through. I might return tonight to widen it a little more as a temporary stopgap until we can get some real work done this weekend.

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  • Graham
    March 9, 2017 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi Richard and all,

    Some in-person advertising on the light rail this morning alerted me to this event – I’m happy to help make the trail pleasant to commute on again. I have no tools but can pick up shovel / broom / rent a chainsaw (maybe)? What makes me most useful? Should be me and 2 more.

  • March 9, 2017 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Very cool! We’ll have a few extra tools on hand so no need to buy or rent extra. Be sure to bring gloves. I’ll have a jug of water and snacks.

  • Jim Bob
    March 9, 2017 - 11:04 pm | Permalink

    I live too far away to help out (I commute the area by train), but thanks for the work you are doing. You are a rock star.

  • Pete
    March 10, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    Richard, you are a rock star! I caught this in time (for a change) but hosting SoCal guests and wife’s plan is we go to Santa Cruz. I have shovels, broom, pruning saw, various loppers, but sadly chainsaw is sitting in Oregon garage. Will try to negotiate some time…

    The Vietnamese billionaire’s quote… “Who doesn’t love 5 million dollars?”.

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2017 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Is the Guadalupe Trail crossing @ highway 87 clear yet? I’ve been anxiously awaiting it to clear so I can ride into downtown San Jose from the trail?
    I appreciate all your efforts to create a volunteer cleanup group. 🙂 Thumbs up to all you guys that have contributed.

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2017 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I was watching the GRT/87 crossing online and did not see it flood the trail. I have a friend who rides it. Maybe he can shed more light on it? Let me check back here later.

  • March 12, 2017 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

    City says they plan to clear the trail across downtown (starting at Woz Way and working north) this week. A couple of people went at it with shovels earlier and did what they could but it’s a huge job.

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2017 - 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps I will take a ride though there today and report back what I find.

  • March 12, 2017 - 3:48 pm | Permalink

    That would be appreciated. I’ve only checked Santa Clara St so I’m curious.

  • Anonymous
    March 13, 2017 - 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I confirmed today that the Guadalupe intersection @ Montague Expressway is now clear. There are still branches neatly placed on the sides which more than likely is the remains left by the volunteer cleanup crew last weekend. Hopefully the city will pick all that up soon.

    Hats off to the volunteers that helped clear the intersections..
    The most important one is the Highway 87 crossing. I have not confirmed if that has been cleared yet. Hopefully someone can provide us with an update on that one. As with the others if they are blocked you can just walk across the street to cross, but unfortunately are unable to cross the freeway and have to turn back if it is blocked. I’m looking forward to using it to make it out to downtown San Jose.

  • March 14, 2017 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Randy. City bulldozed a path from Woz Way thru to Santa Clara Street during the day on Monday; I didn’t check under 87 but I believe that’s open now. I saw city crews picking up north of Santa Clara Street today (Tuesday March 14)

    Kudos the trail clearing party under Montague indeed!

    Guadalupe River Trail cleanup March 11 2017

  • Anonymous
    March 15, 2017 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Outstanding! It sounds like some trail riding is in order for this weekend 🙂 .
    I second your Kudos motion to all that contributed in the cleanup.
    Us trail dwellers greatly appreciate it! 🙂

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