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.
Scenic and perfect for the family or first time hiker. Come early to finish. We only completed a mile up and back. Met someone coming down who had a run in with a rattle snake. He tossed it to the side away from the trail. He said it was early for one to be seen - round 2:30 pm. Close contact with cows on the trail. Most picked up their small dogs when passing by the cows. Recommended.
This was a hard but rewarding trek with a lot of front-loaded elevation gain on both days. We set out from the Hunting Hollow Entrance of Henry Coe State Park and walked up the road (~2 miles) to the Coyote Creek park entrance - where this trail starts. You quickly start climbing on the Anza Trail and the Jackson Trail. There was some tree cover, but luckily we were hiking in the winter when temperatures were mid-50s. There were great views of the surrounding hills and fields which made all of the work totally worth it. After the climb, descending down to Kelly Lake is easy and then there is a slight hike up and down again to the nearby Coit Lake. There were lots of frogs, ducks, and other birds by Coit Lake. There were several choice camping spots around the northern part of the lake. We woke up to frost on the ground, it was magical. Conviniently, there are a few outhouses near Kelly and Coit Lake along with a few trash bins (although I don't know how often those are emptied). Hiking back up the hill from Kelly Lake was killer, but after that its a nice flat/decline hike down Grizzly Gulch back to the Coyote Creek Entrance. Overall a great trip!
Try it counter-clockwise for a tougher finish back up Hobbs road before the switch-backs down to the visitor center which adds a nice view to the wind down after the climb. The only reason not to give it 5 stars is that you are on a road. But that's just me as I prefer trails when I'm hiking.