San Jose bike trail offers more than recreation

Gerardo Revuelta

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Maria Laura Miramon / TIMES STAFF                           Dan Daniels, a homeless man, smokes his cigarette  near the Guadalupe River Trail.

The Guadalupe River trail is listed as a place for recreation and entertainment according to San Jose Parks organization, and yet if someone enters the trail on Grant and Palm Streets, they would not be on the most relaxing or family friendly section of the trail.

The 2011 homeless census for Santa Clara County showed an estimated 18,272 people without a steady overnight place to stay. Thirty four percent of those people sleep outdoors, on the streets, in parks or in encampments.

One homeless woman who calls the creekside home was asked what the police had to say about the camp.

“All they (SJPD) can really do is come down here and tell us to clean up after ourselves. This is a park and a free place. Anybody can come here. I just so happen to sleep here.”

Dolores Anderson, who said she was a former San Jose City College and De Anza College student, has been living underneath the 280 freeway alongside the creek for almost two years.

Broken glass scattered alongside the trail is not uncommon. “The younger kids are the ones throwing the bottles and breaking glass, which is very dangerous for the ducks and the birds because it can get caught in their feet. We keep our stuff clean up here,” Anderson said.

“You looking for the river rats? You can find some old timers that have been living on this creek for a long time” said a man who gave the alias “Dan Daniels,” a reference to his hat that bared a Jack Daniels whiskey logo on the front.

Going north on the trail just behind Children’s Discovery Museum stands a separate campsite. The people at this camp were not as open to reporters as the first site.

Stacks of logs and a fallen tree make up a hut-style room for some.

Here was a man sitting down watching two individuals wash their clothes in the river.

An assortment of different radios, two make shift tents, was amongt scattered garbage and half-assembled bicycles to make up their living environment. A small garden box with cherry tomatoes showed signs of sustainable living practices.

The trail will be alongside this year’s Pumpkins in the Park hosted by the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and many other events.