Featured National Recreation Trail

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A 9,600 pound steel mammoth is the highlight of public art on the San Jose Trail Network, a designated National Recreation Trail.


arrow From the Fall 2015 issue of the American Trails Magazine

arrow See the Featured National Recreation Trails page for Guadalupe River Trail, San Jose


San Jose enhances trails with art and architecture

From the City of San Jose, California

photo of huge metal elephant sculpture

The 9,600 pound steel mammoth along San Jose's Guadalupe River Trail


The Guadalupe River Trail has a mammoth piece of public art. Weighing 9,600 pounds, standing 12.5 feet tall, and measuring 18 feet long, Lupe makes quite an impression. San Jose’s newest piece of public art proudly stands along the popular Guadalupe River Trail, which is a designated National Recreation Trail.  The trail currently links downtown San Jose to the San Francisco Bay, a distance of seven miles, with access to many of Silicon Valley’s major employers, housing and attractions.

The silvery steel sculpture of the Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) took up permanent residence along the Guadalupe River Trail in 2015. The location is ideal as this remarkable piece of public art is easily visible to walkers, joggers, and bicyclists on the trail as well as drivers along a nearby busy roadway.

“It’s been an incredible five-year journey for Lupe to plant her feet in San Jose,” said Jennifer Easton, Director of San Jose Public Art.

PHoto of stainless steel mammoth

The sculpture, named Lupe, in her home along the trail


“From the community who helped select the amazing Los Angeles-based artist team of Greenmeme to the mammoth’s 340-mile trip on a lowboy trailer to San Jose from Los Angeles, we can now celebrate an incredible archeological discovery through art and outdoor activity.”

An interpretive panel, opposite the sculpture, explains that a trail user found the fossils of a Columbian Mammoth in 2005. The 12,500-year old bones became visible after nearby channel alterations upstream.

“Lupe adds another dimension to the Guadalupe River Trail experience,” said Trails Manager Yves Zsutty. “The sculpture conveys a sense of history and the magnitude of time in San Jose. It offers a wonderful destination, discovery and reward for the 1,000+ daily trail users.”

graphic of giant hands painted on six-story building

“Hands” is a 1,200-foot long installation as seen from the trail


Other art found along the trail includes “Hands”; a 1,200’ long x 65’ tall installation upon San Jose’s International Airport parking garage, found alongside the trail. Interpretive stations, decorative architectural gateways and ever-present views of the river draw between 1,000 and 1,500 recreational and commute trail users on a daily basis.

The City began development of the public art piece in 2010. The artists, Greenmeme’s Freya Bardell and Brian Howe, were commissioned to create this newest art piece, receiving scientific guidance from University of California, Berkeley.

They also collaborated on the design with the Children’s Discovery Museum that was in the midst of planning a hands-on mammoth exhibit. The exhibit, also found along the Guadalupe River Trail, has been open for two years and features the real skull and tusks from the original mammoth that they affectionately call Lupe for the river’s name. Following an elaborate planning and building process spanning three years, the artists brought Lupe to life. Following a long road trip, she arrived in San Jose on Wednesday, July 8 and within a few days, the sparkling, bent-pipe sculpture was secured permanently to its trailside home.

graphic of fish along bridge railing

More art along the San Jose Trail System


The City of San Jose is strategically developing a 100-mile trail network by unifying 35 trail systems to provide active transportation and recreation for pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and other users. The City has secured National Recreation Trail designation for 16.4 miles over three trail systems, which currently include the Coyote Creek Trail, the Highway 237 Bikeway Trail, and the Guadalupe River Trail.


For more information:

See maps and more information on San Jose’s Guadalupe River Trail at www.grpg.org/mapsanddirections.


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