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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. Henry W. Coe State Park sprawls over acres of high ridges and low valleys southeast of San Jose. It once belonged to a rancher named Henry Willard Coe; his heirs donated the ranch that would become the state park bearing his name. The park has few amenities, but has abundant trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. 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.

This hike had a great deal of elevation changes in short distances. You will want to be conditioned before attempting it! Traveling Serpentine was a huge climb for sore legs on day 2 of our trip, Middle Steer Trail was a straight descent down from Steer Ridge, if you are sore or would like to ease your trip, I suggest taking Steer Ridge to Jim Donnelly- which was just recently re-carved and has enough switchbacks to lighten the descent on your legs. Overall this was a great trip and Pacheco Falls were 10/10 worth the trek!

backpacking
24 days ago

Nothing really too special but if you have no other choice in a backpacking trip i guess its okay......

backpacking
1 month ago

It was nice, not great. Went in early January and it's not much of a lake. Frog pond would be more appropriate. This close to the headquarters you run into ALOT of people. We saw probably 10 other parties. Rather than take the loop, we trekked onward the next day down to upper camp which was nice. This is a great little trip if you are trying to take it easy or introducing someone to backpacking. We stayed at the two oaks campsite which is world's better than the frog lake campsite by the bathrooms.

Couldn't exactly find China loop hole trail.

But the hike is easy, elevation isn't very high.

Super easy. I just recommend wearing long pants to protect yourself from ticks. Other than that, we also got to see a bobcat, which was awesome!

Not hard, considering that there's no major incline.

Flat, and circular. =Round About Trail.

4.6 miles up, 4.6 miles down!

hiking
2 months ago

Tough one. Budget at least 7 hrs.

Great hike. Long but not difficult. Beautiful views and the lake is a real reward after long hours under the sun. We took a dive. It was very cold but really refreshing.

backpacking
5 months ago

The trail is well marked and once you get to the lake you feel very accomplished. Though, the rolling ridges, sun exposure in some spots, and heat made for a pretty tough hike in, we were still able to keep approx 20 min per mile pace.

Once at the lake you can fish, swim, and camp. Something to note, there is a little restroom shack and trash can not too far from Kelly Lake.

We are doing a 25 miler backpacking trip in Yosemite backcountry coming up so we did this trail to condition with our packs.

backpacking
5 months ago

I hiked out to Coit Lake from the Hunting Hollow Park Entrance recently as part of a 2 night backpacking trip. The fishing at Coit was great. Only giving 4 out of 5 stars because the shore access on Coit lake was not as good as Mississippi or Kelly Lake. https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/henry-coe-coit-lake/

backpacking
6 months ago

This is a tough hike, but makes for a great backpacking trip. Few people make it to the lake so you are likely to get some solitude. The fishing is great at Mississippi Lake too! Here is a trip report I wrote for my trek to Mississippi Lake: https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/henry-coe-mississippi-lake/

hiking
6 months ago

A couple of strenuous climbs, but completely worth the view you get along Blue Ridge Rd. There are plenty of hawks to keep you company. The creek is also beautiful even in the summer and worth poking around if you have time. Most of this trail is downhill and a bit hard on the feet - I had to run the steeper parts. Finished in 6 hours, "short cut" took me 36 minutes.

Great hike. First part is quite challenging going up the hill and then "sliding" down the road ( so steep). Coming back on flat frog trail is uneventful for the first part thru the forest but after about .7 mile you'll start enjoy unbeatable views and surrounding scenery for reminder of the hike.

hiking
6 months ago

Hiked this in 90+ degree weather. Did it in 7 hours out of necessity, but now I'm dead.

This trail takes you to the bottom of the valley, to the peak of mt. sizer, back down to another creek bed, and then back up to the starting point. Drank four liters of water and wanted more. I bought the fourth liter at the advice if the rangers, and that saved me. 5 stars, but I do not recommend going in the summer.

backpacking
6 months ago

This trail will push one to their limit as portions are incredibly steep. The area is stunning with great vistas of ridges and valleys. The trails are not maintained so grasses, tar weed and other weeds will fill one's socks with stickers and tarry goo (summertime). Bobcats, deer, hawks and many other wildlife will be seen. Flat areas for tents are at a premium as this area is steep. Filtered water from the ponds and lakes tastes like rain water. Beautiful but exhausting.

hiking
7 months ago

Good workout, low crowd with minimal shade

There is no parking at the coyote creek gate. You will need to park at Hunting Hollow and walk 1.8 miles down Gilroy Hot Springs Rd to the trail gate.

Total round trip is about 7.3 miles if you start from HQ via Corral Trail. Great height and some workouts uphill. Frog lake is very cool with pretty blue dragonflies and frogs. Will come back during spring to see more green and flowers.

hiking
7 months ago

I consider myself an occasional hiker 6 to 7 times a year, maybe 10 miles at a time. I have hiked almost all the other popular day hikes in the bay area. I hiked this Monday about 80 degrees weather. I was contemplating climbing Mt. Whitney and was checking my endurance. This was a killer. I somehow ended up hiking 17.5 miles with a few side trips. The "shortcut" took me 1 hour 30 minutes, twice my age. I did take jackass trail it is passable during the day, although I counted 4 trees fallen over the trail. There is some poison oak along the route that one can avoid if they are careful. The Jackass trail is overgrown at some points and would be impossible to follow during dusk or at night. It took me 10.5 hours to do 17.5 miles. The views were good, but I have seen better at other hikes in the area. It is a good training hike to test your stamina. I concluded I am not ready for a day hike up Whitney, maybe I could do with an overnight and more training.

Did this the second time, but camped at Sada's spring this time instead of dayhiking all of it. The site there is perfect for a single tent, with a good spot for a hammock. Going up the 'shortcut' in 90 deg weather in the afternoon with camping gear may not be the best idea, I discovered.

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