Barely an hour’s drive southeast of San Jose, Henry W. Coe State Park – the largest state park in northern California - protects and preserves 87,000 acres of scenic hills and mountain ridges. This wild, largely undeveloped park welcomes backpackers, equestrians, mountain bikers, day-hikers, and anyone seeking solitude in a nearly untouched setting. Part of the Diablo Range, the park is an amalgam of high ridges, plateaus, and both narrow and open valleys. After a rainy winter, wildflowers bloom in profusion from February through March; by April the color is rampant. The landscape is rich with blue lupine and orange-yellow California poppies, bright yellow gold fields and delicate baby blue eyes. Mariposa lilies, larkspur, blue dicks and Ithuriel’s spear show themselves in late April and May. The variety and richness of the flora attract visitors from miles around. The park is open year-round for hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, equestrians, car campers, picnickers, photographers, and people who simply like to visit parks. Hot, dry summers bring highs above 90, cooling to the 50s at night. Hikers should carry and drink plenty of water, even on less-strenuous trails. Winter is wet, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s. In winter, seasonal creeks can overflow and become dangerously impassable. Spring and fall are the most temperate and enjoyable times to visit. Prepare for the variable climate and rugged landscape by dressing in layers. Dogs are allowed in the main campground, paved roads and one trail that connects the Visitor Center to the parking lot off of E. Dunne Ave. Dogs are not allowed at the Hunting Hollow or Dowdy Ranch entrances or on any other trails within the park.
We went in the reverse direction, which got cutoff out of the way earlier in the hike. I strongly recommend adding the additional couple of miles to take as many of the side single-tracks as possible: flat frog trail, jackass trail, china hole up to manzanita point, either springs trail or forest trail. you'll encounter more poison oak, but being off of the roads is worth it, and it's only an extra mile or so, with no additional elevation to speak of. Poverty Flat rd. to finish is a bit brutal.
amazing, from the beginning with the five turkey vultures circling over my dog and me, to the the nice serene up hill hike and the Prairie dogs every where, the magnificent view back into the Morgan Hill Valley, to the hawk that swoped down and on to a tree limb only about ten feet away and as he perched he seemed to say hello anyways the four miles hike was amazing
The Blue Ridge road / trail has some of the most beautiful views in the Bay Area. Note that Mt.Sizer is not where the free park brochure's map indicates. Also, if you're hoping to pick up a good topo map at the HQ, it may not be open if you get there early (I didn't check beforehand; I got there around 7am and it was closed). There's a decent amount of shade on most parts of this route, and overall, was a day well spent.
It was a GORGEOUS trail. My only complaint was that there were multiple creek crossings that we were not prepared for. Because of El Niño they were fairly deep as well. Other than that the trail was really quiet and peaceful. I would rate it as moderate as some parts can be fairly steep.
I am not convinced that this hike has 2000' gain - if it does then it is pretty well disguised. That figure is mentioned in the map published by CA State parks, but from the topological, elevation at Park HQ is around 2600' and Cayote creek is around 1200'. We could add in a couple of hundred feet to account for rolling terrain, we'd still be about 400' short.
First overnight trip. Beat the heat by hiking in at night. The dry grassy hills are much more beautiful when lit by the moonlight. I was not expecting it to be so difficult, it was hill after hill and coming down was very steep during the next day. The ponds are very dry and difficult to fish.