Kelly Lake Loop: Jim Donnelly and Grizzly Gulch Trails

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Henry W. Coe State Park

Kelly Lake Loop: Jim Donnelly and Grizzly Gulch Trails is a 14.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Gilroy, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 14.7 miles Elevation Gain: 3,585 feet Route Type: Loop


mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching




wild flowers


no dogs

Monotonous, although sweeping, views of dry grassland with occasional stands of oak and bay. Kelly Lake itself is an uninspiring waterhole that looks more suited for thirsty cows. The campsites around the banks are unattractive and exposed. Good bathroom at lake.

Wed May 29 2019

Actual route hiked was Jim Donnelly-steer ridge-serpentine trail-grizzly gulch-tule pond trail-wasno road-Kelly lake trail. Return via much shorter drexler trail to coyote creek TH. The landscape and scenery is beautiful and stunning and still quite a few wildflowers in bloom. Only giving 3 stars for two reason: 1 is that the trails are unnecessarily steep and many seem to be converted dirt roads it fire breaks. Even much of the singletrack simply goes straight up and down without even a thought of using switchbacks. 2nd is that being memorial weekend and having no quota system, Kelly lake and coit lake are overwhelmed with backpackers with way too few sites for the volume. We arrived a day early and was the only ones there so I would recommend to the park service to have quotas on holiday weekends to reduce the impact and to preserve the outdoor nature at the lakes. Did a day hike to Pacheco falls and defy worth the trip to see them.

Sat May 04 2019

Fantastic route, with most of the toughest elevation at the start if you do it counter clockwise as recommended. I did the trail in about eight hours on a warm day on 4 May, including a detour via Camp Wilson and lots of stops (though I did hitch a lift along the road at the end). Three liters of water was about right for me. Kelly Lake is a great lunch spot if you start early. Recommend a side trip to the old abandoned Camp Wilson. I came across quite a few other people walking and on bikes — not surprising for good weather on a Saturday, but busier than when I've hiked in the Mount Sizer area. It's incredibly verdant and peaceful up there, with wild hills as far as you can see in every direction. Amazing flowers and trees. I saw a deer and, of course, lots of birds (and heard a lot more). Lots of turtles and garter snakes (I mean hundreds!) in Rodeo Pond. Fantastic cloud inversion (if that's the phrase) each time I've been to Henry Coe: foggy in the valley below, completely clear on the trail. One suggestion: to avoid walking the ~two miles along the road from the Coyote Creek entrance to Hunting Hollow, turn off onto the Spike Jones trail and then take Jim Donnelly back to the car park. It's all well signposted, but be careful not to miss the left turn onto Steer Ridge just past the creek near the start. If you do miss it, no worries — just take Jim Donnelly. Take some antihistamine if you're prone to hay fever and you're there in spring. And, of course, do not forget sunblock — most of the route is not shaded. You might also want insect repellant (though I didn't really need it).

Incredible numbers of very light pink/violet Shooting Stars and a few lovely Fuchsia Flowering Gooseberry plants (Ribes speciosum) in full bloom. Lots of Baby Blue Eyes and many others starting to show buds. Water crossings were often and required boots as even careful rock hopping soaked my summer shoes on 3-15-19 with lots of rain this season. Many steep up and downhills. Several small ponds along the way.

washed out
Sat Feb 09 2019

I enjoyed this loop a lot and completed CCW as per AllTrails. It was overcast with on and off showers but this didn’t ruin the fun. Spectacular lake this time of year with the green moss hanging from the trees. The first half is dirt roads and open trail (with very steep initial ascent) which was enjoyable as Coe rolls out in all directions. Things get really good on the initial descent to the lake which is narrow single track and stays like that most of the way back. Even the 3km section on the road isn’t enough to mark this trail down - it was dead quiet when I was there with not a vehicle in sight. The first stream crossing can be avoided by crossing the bridge and climbing through the barbed wire. Not ideal but beats taking a soaking out of the gate. A number of other stream crossings this time of year - I’d recommend hiking poles as these made it more stable hopping from rock to rock. Only got significantly wet foot toward the end.

Sun Sep 02 2018

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

Tue Jun 19 2018

Great for 1 day backpacking!

Wed Jan 24 2018

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

Sun Oct 22 2017

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.

Thu Aug 31 2017

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.

Fri Jun 16 2017

Out and back. Really worth camping at the lake.

Fri Nov 25 2016

Backpacking at night

Mon Mar 18 2013

There are a number of ways to get from the two most appropriate trailheads (Hunting Hollow and Coyote Creek) to Kelly Lake. The paths with the easiest grades are the fireroads and are favored by the cyclists, but there are plenty of other trails. My group went over Willson Peak on the way there, and came back along Grizzly Gulch. The trails tend to be quite steep, but the views are lovely. Kelly Lake itself is pretty enough. Certainly we weren't bothered by bugs, though the frogs sang pretty much all night.

10 months ago

Sat Apr 13 2019

Wed Jul 04 2018

Sat Mar 24 2018

Tue Jan 23 2018

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