Explore the most popular birding trails in Henry W. Coe State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I got few good pictures of animals there.

hiking
2 months ago

The views are okay and the incline, with hardly any shade, definitely deserves the hard rating. But I saw a lot of wildlife and the sunset was great.

hiking
2 months ago

Scenery: 3.5
Views: 4
Difficulty: 5
Crowds: 2
Shade: 3

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

hiking
2 months ago

A full moon hike and an epic golden hour, beautiful to every extent possible. Started 4 pm from the parking lot and loop took close to 9 hrs with an hr break to catch the sunset and moonrise. Definitely must do in every season!!

backpacking
2 months ago

This hike was tough. It pretty much kicked my ass. I went in very confident. Just over 12 miles? I sometimes trail run that before breakfast, and my gear is ultralight. Piece of cake. Boy was I wrong.

I got to the park at 3pm on Friday. I was the only one there. The ranger told me I'd be night hiking and I didn't believe him.

The first 5 or so miles past China Hole and through The Narrows went great. It was around 90º but I was down in the valley and there were at least a few puddles to get water. Once you get to Willow Ridge Trail though that all ends. The last 5.6 miles is steep, exposed, ridge, and no more water until you get to the lake. It felt like walking up and down all of the hills in San Francisco in succession, if SF were a desert.

I got to the lake after 9 and I was exhausted. It was a little scary to night hike by myself in what felt like deep in the backcountry. I was seeing glowing eyes off to the sides of the trail and kept getting paranoid about mountain lions. But, I did not see any mountain lions. I did see a few tarantulas in the middle of the trail. Nearly stepped on one, but thankfully did not (it probably more thankful than me even).

Then since I rolled in after dark and I wasn't familiar with where the campsites are around the lake, it was really challenging to find where to sleep. I ended up cowboy camping on the flattest square of dirt I could find.

Waking up to the sunrise over the lake made it worth it though, mostly. This was a good learning experience for a relative backpacking noob.

This trail is awsome! Plenty of technical trail to navigate. Great spartan race training. Love it!

hiking
3 months ago

We hiked this loop on 8/17 but did not take the short trail up to Mt Sizer. It was warm and 92F in the afternoon. It is best to start as early as possible. We took 3L of water and probably could have used 4L.
The views from the Blue Ridge are awesome. Last year we could see the Sierras.
The shortcut and Poverty Flat were very hard work and we stopped several times to cool off. Relentless is the adjective to describe them. We did not see anyone on the entire loop.
I highly recommend the loop. It has terrific views and is challenging for most. I would avoid warm >80F days for the loop.

hiking
4 months ago

We took the Frog Lake Loop trail today. It was a bit dry as expected but beautiful lake at the destination. We saw a wild turkey, tons of frogs, lots of blue dragonflies. I would definitely go back in the spring to see wild flowers. The Hobbs section was a bit steep downhills in some part and there was a couple of trucks on it. Next time, I’ll take the Frog Lake Trail to avoid the vehicles and get much better view of the ridges.

trail running
4 months ago

Pretty decent hike. Went at about 1pm on a 90 degree day. Brought 2L of water. The hike down wasn’t that bad at all.. considering it’s all downhill! On the way back I took the Springs trail back up. Wow! That was quite a hike up. Made me stop a few times. I can’t wait to go back after a nice rain when the river fills up! Would make the hike that much better.

By the way.. it’s 8$ to park!

Good workout. Long pants a must. Narrow single track, tall grass with ticks and burrs, and poison oak along majority of the trail.

Did this hike in the middle of July 2018 on a day that was quite hot. Much of the trail goes along roads which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how rugged you want your hike to be. We passed many trucks on our hike but not a single hiker to be seen. We went through jackass trail which had groves of poison oak growing next to and on the trail but this area is starkly beautiful as you're walking through a charred oak forest "graveyard".

The trail is about 60% covered by oaks and manzanita, but 40% is pretty exposed so make to wear sunscreen. Also note that the water table is low so the water pumps are all empty so the only water you have is what you take with you.

Overall this is a hike best left for spring when the weather isnt as oppressive. You'll need every bit of help going through the shortcut and poverty flat at the end. The trails arent too rugged so it makes for clear directions but less intimate exploration.

hiking
4 months ago

Fun trail to hike on. Mostly narrow trails. Some fairly steep drop offs but not too difficult to deal with. Not too strenuous if hiking on the Soda Spring Trail out and returning on the China Hole Trail. Took us about 5 hours round trip.

Definitely not a good place for swimming at this time of the year though. The creek is al dried up. Some water left at China Hole but not much.

This was incredibly hard in the middle of summer...as everyone says, bring plenty of water!! At least 4 liters. You’ll need every drop. This trail is relentless!

hiking
5 months ago

Completed this clockwise this morning and used about 3l of water total. In early July I was able to fill up just before going up The Shortcut and could have also filled up at at the intersection of Poverty Flat and China Hole, if I’d needed to. Despite being July the weather was very mild 8C when I set off and 22C by the time I got back to the headquarters.

The Short Cut is quite challenging but a slow and steady approach works well. I definitely recommend cutting down Jackass Trail as the views and single track are great. My rating for this route is 4* to reflect the general lack of single track when good routes are there.

Instead of walking back up Poverty Flat I cut up China Hole Trail and briefly walked along Forest Trail before finishing the last 1km on Corral. Definitely recommended if you enjoy single track my route: 5* :-).

Total time for ~26km was 4h55m. Honestly I expected this to be more difficult than it was. I walked with poles for the first time and suspect this may have made the difference as my legs feel significantly less tired than I anticipated.

Great for 1 day backpacking!

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!

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

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

hiking
6 months 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
7 months ago

Beautiful lake, but little access for swimming.

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

backpacking
7 months 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 trail. loved frog lake. there were some huge frogs

hiking
8 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.

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.

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