[Best of Silicon Valley 1999]

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Hall of Fame

Vasona Lake

The Valley's favorite park is in a league of its own

By Corinne Asturias

Here's a trivia question for vasona fans or for those who think they know a thing or two about this valley. The word "Vasona," as in Vasona Lake County Park, came from (1) the name of an early wheat farmer who dug his pond here in the mid 1700s; (2) a local Indian tribe's word for "duck"; (3) a type of berry which once grew in abundance in the nearby foothills; (4) a pony.

The answer is No. 4, a pony, the choice of a farmer who lived near this spot in the 1890s and had enough clout to choose the name of a railroad stop and to make sure it was near his farm. Vasona, the story goes, was a favorite pony he had as a kid.

Vasona Boat Life is But a Dream: The boats at Vasona have changed since 1986 (the year this photo was taken), but the scenic park's popularity has endured.

Photograph by Charles Savadelis

As a conveniently located picnic space and an open expanse of green, the 152-acre Vasona Lake County Park has few rivals. A bucolic-looking lake surrounded by green, sloping hills, weeping willows and majestic trees, all within a stone's throw of Highway 17, Vasona sits like a holdout from another era, a refuge for the valley.

Size and expanse alone make it a perfect place for--dare we say it?--splendor in the grass. At the very least it's ideal for a day watching the ducks and the geese and, in spring, ducklings and goslings following their parents around in orderly little lines.

With its giant open spaces for frisbee or football, trees and shaded zones for picnics, it's an oft-chosen site for company and family picnics. And Vasona is one of those places that has something for everyone. Boating is permitted, and they rent boats in the summer and on weekends in the off-season. From the lake area, it's a short and scenic walk to the nearby Oak Meadow Park with its spectacular kids playground (it has an airplane parked in the sand), sports field, Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and carousel. The lake is seasonally stocked with trout, and they hold a fishing derby in the summer, mostly for kids. People can be seen reeling in bass now and again, and catfish, too.

For the record, the still waters of Vasona don't run very deep. I can remember when my junior high class went there on a field trip and two girls capsized their boat, frantically thrashing and screaming for help in the greenish water. A ranger rushed to the scene to save them, megaphone in hand. He then shouted two words which were to live in infamy.

He said: "Stand up!"

298 Garden Hill Dr., LG 408.356.2729. Take Hwy 17 south to Hwy 9. Take the University exit. Turn right on University and right on Blossom Hill Road; it's on the left hand side just past Oak Meadow Park.

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From the September 30-October 6, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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