Here's what SJ's Alum Rock Park looks like, still closed due to 'hazardous conditions' from storms

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
SJ's historic Alum Rock Park closed due to 'hazardous conditions'
With the rain moving away, you might want to finally get out and hike! But spaces like the Alum Rock Park in San Jose remain closed due to significant damage. Take a look here.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Any New Year's Resolutions to get outdoors, perhaps plans to hike Alum Rock Park in San Jose, will have to be put off for some time.

Storm damage continues to be widespread, keeping the popular South Bay destination closed to the public. Monday evening, Park Rangers took ABC7 News Reporter Amanda del Castillo on a tour of the oldest municipal park in California.

The park remains closed due to hazardous conditions, after the damage caused by the rapid collection of storms to hit since New Year's Eve.

"Our hills are very saturated and soaking wet with all the rainwater," SJ Park Ranger Brian Shively said. "We can still see mudslides, landslides, and rockslides coming down."

VIDEO: 8 homes evacuated, with 5 red-tagged after mudslide in Berkeley Hills

As of late Monday night, five houses remain red-tagged; one of those homes received extensive damage during the mudslide.

Park Ranger Shively described the park as a "box canyon," where its sides are very steep. He said gravity alone causes objects to slide down even in dry conditions.

"But now you're factoring in moisture, and every now and then the high wind is taking out some of our trees. That sort of thing makes it much more challenging for us right now in the park," he explained.

Among the list of impacts to the 728-acre park, the tour uncovered erosion, road hazards, and rocks along popular trails. Even the temporary Hollywood-style Alum Rock sign that celebrated the park's 150 years 2022 is no more.

Elsewhere, there are roadways that rangers are unable to access without putting their trucks in 4-wheel drive, on a paved road.

RELATED: Experts explain why CA is prone to mudslides, what areas are most vulnerable

Shively acknowledged there is much to do before the park reopens to the public, including having rangers hike every trail to assess unknown damage, potentially having to clear narrow trails by hand, or bringing in heavy equipment to do the job.

"A tree actually fell into our creek," he said. "And when that tree fell, it took out a chunk of a retaining wall that was holding up - or that we believe to be supporting the roadway."

For that damage, Shively said an engineer will have to come out to determine the best way to either resolve the issue or reroute traffic.

Since the New Year's Eve closure, he said rangers are seeing about 100 visitors coming up to the entrance, only to be turned around.

Rangers continue to patrol the park, identify new damage, and mitigate the damage they already have.

RELATED: Sinkholes, flooding continue to plague Bay Area

This isn't the only park seeing widespread storm damage, and for that reason, San Jose officials explained a number of parks and trails across the city are closed indefinitely.

For a list of San Jose park and trail closures, click here.

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