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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.

Stunning views from high elevation, plenty of wildlife and too many species of wildflowers to count, although with the onset of summer I imagine the cooler weather & wildflowers I experienced will go away. Saw a beautifully-colored gopher snake, quail, wild turkeys, red-winged blackbirds at Kelly Lake, and near Hunters Hollow road at dusk- a mountain lion!

There are plenty of trailhead signs which Kept the head-scratching to a minimum. There are vaulted bathrooms and camps spread throughout the area. I took Coit road at the end to Pacheco camp instead of what the map shows, which was roughly equidistant. Pacheco & Wilson’s camp both had running water faucets (still needs to be filtered), and Pacheco even had a primitive shower setup.

Ran into some nice people and three park rangers, a few bicyclists. Pacheco falls is down to a trickle. Kelly Lake was my favorite, and probably the most populated area. The lake is mostly surrounded by cattails, but there’s a spot on the northeast end where you can get to the water for filtering, fishing, or a swim if you’re brave enough.

It’s only $5 to camp/ $6 to park per day and you can self-register; definitely a place to check out if you want to do some last-minute backpacking.

Big surprise, this trip didn't go as planned. Haha, but still fun.
My friend and I definitely went a different route, because we missed some forks that I had originally Routed.
We started at the Coyote Creek TH, and made it to Kelly Lake around 16:00. We did about 13 miles. We decided to go a little farther to Coit Lake. We were quite burnt and quite sore. We couldn't find an area to set up camp, everything was pretty high grass and swampy. The lakes were brown and pretty ugly. We walked on, hoping to make it to Pacheco Falls, but we ran out of water and got too tired and so called it quits.
My friend got VERY burnt so we headed back the next day and didn't bother to go to Pacheco Falls. We took a much a shorter route from Kelly Lake and set up camp right at the Coyote Creek TH, that way I could get one more night outside and my friend wouldn't have to walk far the next morning.
About 2300, a bunch of teenagers showed up and proceeded to have a rave on the bridge up to the Hot Springs. They blared their music and made a bunch of noise, so at 00:30, we broke camp. We passed through clouds of marijuana smoke and swaggering drunken teenagers underneath the full moon.
It was quite the adventure. Hah!
There were some pretty sites, but overall, this place isn't very pretty. Also, very expensive to backpack here. A backpacking fee per day and a parking fee, just not worth it for what you are getting to see.
The only reason I am giving it 3 stars is because we met some really nice people! Also, lots of wildlife: a coyote, a cottontail, a rattlesnake, a manx!

Hard to find, good hike!

Trail is in good condition. Watch for poison oak growing on the trail.

Nice trail! Definitely a good day hike. Beautiful ridgeline views.

hiking
29 days ago

This is a good one! Completed on 5/19/18 and this will kick your ass. We did it clockwise and it starts out nice enough but once you hit the short cut, it gets pretty serious. This is an intense climb so make sure you're well prepared for this. I clocked in around 1500ft of gain. After this, it's a nice walk on the ridge. We cut down Jackass Trail, though, wouldn't really recommend this route, its super overgrown right now and we found lots of ticks on us after that stretch. The climb on Poverty Flats is pretty rough too, tough way to end an already long hike. I should have filtered more water at China Hole but opted not too. This is a solid hike but as long as you're well prepared, it's nice and challenging. Enjoy before it gets to hot!

Fun trail, we only met a couple other hikers/backpackers near frog lake. We saw a king snake, some pretty wildflowers, and a lot of frogs when we were at the lake. However, most of the trail has tall grasses on either side, which wasn't very enjoyable to navigate. Saw a ton of ticks hanging out on the grasses just waiting to latch on to someone and also a solid amount of poison oak, especially on the Fish Trail part of the loop.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful lake, but little access for swimming.

Trail was amazing and not very difficult. So many frogs at the lake/pond!!

backpacking
1 month ago

Fantastic hike to do in the spring! Temperatures were fairly mild, and we were able to see a variety of wildlife. We walked through at least 4 different terrains including grassy regions, heavily forested areas, shaded creeks, dessert-ish areas. The wildflowers were in bloom right when we were backpacking. The park rangers are super helpful! We did a modified version of the loop to get the best view of the wildflowers. There is quite a bit of elevation gain, including steep uphill and downhill climbs, but it's doable for most fairly fit people. We started at noon and camped for two nights, finishing around 10am on the third day. We got a tiny bit lost near a small trail off Bear Mountain, but otherwise most trails were well marked. Overall a fantastic trip--highly recommend!

Great for kids.

great trail. loved frog lake. there were some huge frogs

hiking
2 months ago

It was a unique experience to walk though oak savannah and into an old madrone forest with ponderosa pine. Apparently there are ponderosa pines on three ridges in the Henry Coe area. I was pleasantly surprised. The wildflowers were out, and I must have seen over a dozen different species. The wild iris was my favorite. At frog lake there was a giant bellowing bullfrog and fish and smaller frogs aplenty. (The large bullfrog is invasive, unfortunately.) Otherwise not much wildlife, but I am sure the animals are out there.

The roads are extremely steep, built for trucks, so I recommend taking the walking trails. Lots of spots for backcamping. Bring lots of water, a filter, and food. It’s rugged and you will definitely need some extra calories to get through the day(s).

Hard but rewarding loop with many moments of silence and serenity; we saw only a handful of people the entire time.

Very easy. I was hoping to let my toddler walk too, but the trail is very narrow with steep sides, so she stayed in the carrier. It was also further from the freeway than I had hoped- about 25 minutes on a very curvy road once you’re off 101. But the plus was no traffic noise, just song birds. Some trails offer good shade.

Nice jaunt. A few spots were rather annoying with the elevation change but all in all a good hike. Also had a nice lunch under an old oak tree at the lake. Peaceful and no hum of cars.

Be prepared for multiple creek crossings on Hunting Hollow trail. We saw a mountain lion on the Redfern Trail. Hike on.

We went on a day that was supposed to be super rainy - the rain started as we were walking up the Corral trail back to the cars so we just got cool weather and fresh trails! The big creek was pretty darn full - didn’t get all the way to China Hole. We got a little sun on the incline and even with all the rain the creek hopping was fine. If I were to do it again I would go back up the China Hole trail - I loved the views that way and the incline going up the other way was brutal - all uphill with no flat areas until you get back to the fork.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked on 3-10-18. 5 stars... maybe because it was raining and the wildlife was out, there was only 3 people on the trail (beside a few backpackers in Poverty Flat). I completed going clockwise, heard frogs at frog lake, a fox up on Blue Ridge, a rabbit, two herds of deers, multitudes of California Newts. The Big Berry Manzanita are amazing as are the Madrones. Flowers were out. Anyways this hike was a gem in the rain with an umbrella. But a lot of elevation gain. This hike took me 8 hours, and ended in the dark after a great sunset.

on Mount Sizer Loop

hiking
3 months ago

I did this trek on Sunday 3-12-18 and unfortunately I did it backwards. So I can not say I have completed the "short cut" It was a really nice hike in 65 degree weather can imagine it being much hotter I would melt away. It was long and intense for me and I hike every weekend. I took the Jackass trail from Poverty flat to Blueridge (remember I started at end) Going down the Short Cut is really rough on the knees..... I much prefer going up it. I will be back to do it the right way.... It is very peaceful and lightly traffic, just how I like it.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy trail, wild flowers, frogs, unusual butterflies, we saw purple ones. Tranquil and peaceful!

Known as "Flag Frog, Middle Ridge, And Fish Trail Loop" in 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Haven't walked this yet - rating based on book recommendation - will update when I walk it later today.

3 months ago

I don't know why is it rated as hard, in fact this is easy nice walk crossing creeks many times, in the summer there is no water even.

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!

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

backpacking
5 months 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
6 months ago

Tough one. Budget at least 7 hrs.

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