Henry W. Coe State Park

Introduction:

Update: I re-visit the park Jan 2021 and it is open to the public at the north entrance visitor center.

You still can't hike at the remote sections of the park but Frog Lake and Manzanita Point hikes are open.
Link to Updated map on public access sections:
 

Important note Oct. 19, 2020: due to Summer 2020 large fire complex the park is currently close to visitors and I do not know how bad it was damage from the fire and what will be the trail condition and landscape once it will reopen to the public.





Where? : Located 1 hr drive south of Sunnyvale (east of Morgan Hill), the park has few entrances, the main one with the ranger station and campsite is at Coe Ranch Visitor Center (end of E. Dunne Ave road).




Another popular entrance to the parks (popular for mountain bike riders) further south is Hunting Hollow Park entrance (near Coyote Lake Park).

Far to the south on Hwy 152 there is another park entrance on Kaiser Aetna Rd. that lead to Dowdy Ranch Area Visitor Center (never visit this entrance).

Google Map Link


What? : Although Henry W. Coe is the largest CA state park in northern California this is not a well-known park but if you are looking for something close to the bay for long hikes or bike rides and wilderness backpacking experience this is the place.

The park spread over large area of mountains and running water streams with many options to have very long hikes and it also include overnight backpacking in organized sites or in the wilderness sites. The park has relatively few visitors and you will have plenty of nature all to yourself.




Due note 1: The park is mountain bike friendly

 

Due note 2: Recommended to a nice winter/spring day. For most trails, especially deep in the area there is no much shade, not recommended to hot summer days

 

My thoughts: This is very large state park and I can’t say I know it all. I did few hikes in the north section and few long hikes in the south. Although there isn’t any main attraction point, I liked the park, it gives you real wilderness experience, only few people endless trails and many options to hike. It has very nice open landscape with old oak trees and grassland. Except of few short-medium hikes near the north entrance this park is mainly for long hikes, if you want to get to one of the park lakes you will need to cover a lot of miles and cross few mountain ranges. Highly recommend this park for mountain bikes.


The visit:

 

The huge park is networked mainly by wide and well-maintained fire road trails that connected by single-track paths. Usually there is no shade, very hot at the summer season, open to rain during winter day.



There isn’t any specific “park attraction”, but this is the best place to have long hikes, cover ground, discover the mountains and water streams, excellent place to feel the wilderness and to have solitude experience. You will enjoy the mountains covered with old Oak view and the fact that you will probably won’t see anyone else during the hike.

 

There are many camping options both near the small Coe Ranch Visitor Center and options to have overnight sleep in the wilderness.


Recommended trails from Coe Ranch Visitor Center:





Short: You can have short 2-3 miles hikes in trails near the visitor center.

Option 1 (Blue trail on the map): From the visitor center take Coral Trail, connect to Spring Trail that will lead you to Manzanita Pt Rd. keep going on the main trail all the way to the small pound (right side of the trail) at Manzanita Point.

On your way back you can take Forest Trail or enjoy the old large Oak trees and go on the main road back. This trail does not include any climbs, so it is relatively easy.



Option 2 (Red on the map): take the Corral Trail, cross Manzanita Pt Rd. and connect to Flat Frog trail, the trail will take you to Frog Lake.

On your way back you can go on the shorter Hobbs Road back to the visitor center.

From Frog lake you can connect to Manzanita Point ridge through Flat Frog Trail, this is the recommended way to go back and see other sections of the park.



Long hike (Orange on the map): Once you are reaching Manzanita Point Camps take the Cougar Trail that is going down all the way to Coyote Creek.

Once reaching the creek with running water you can go north directly to Poverty Flat Rd.

Another highly recommended option is to take the Narrow Trail.

This is nice narrow section of the canyon, where you need to cross the stream and find your way to Los Cruzeros camp site. At this point turn left and climb the hill to Poverty Flat Rd..

Turn left on Poverty Flat Rd. go up and then down back to Poverty Flat.

From here you can go all the way up on Poverty Flat Rd., turn right on Manzanita Pt Rd. that will take you back to the visitor center.



Visit at the south side of the park (Hunting Hollow parking):

This park section span over several mountain ridges and creeks, most of the landscape is open grassland with Oak trees.

You can do different loop combinations using the many trails options, what I did below is just a small part of the available options.



Hikes in this park section are usually long and include ascents so take that into account when planning you water quantities.

I did not hike all trails in this park section, but it seems to me that they are all in relatively good condition and at most trail junctions there are clear markings with trail names.


 

Hikes Options:

1. Short Option (5.7 miles):


From the parking lot, enter Hunting Hollow Rd that follow the creek, after 0.7 miles there is a left exit on a narrow trail, turn left and continue Middle Steer Ridge Trail.

The trail ascends continuously for about 2 miles you will reach the top of the ridge.

There turn left on Steer Ridge road, after a mile it is becoming narrow trails that descend sharply all the way to the parking lot.


2. Long 10 miles hike:

Start as the short hike using Hunting Hollow Rd but ascend the Lyman Wilson Ridge Trail which after about 2.5 miles reaches the top of the ridge.

Turn right onto Steer Ridge Road until you reach the junction with Wagon Road. Turn right onto Wagon Road, you can go down this trail all the way down to the creek below or turn right onto the Phegley Ridge Trail and use this as an option to go down.

In any case, turn right down the creek on Hunting Hollow Rd back to the parking lot.

 

3. Long 11 miles:

A route that starts like Route 1 using the Middle Steer Ridge Trail.

When reaching the top of the ridge this time turn right onto the wide Steer Ridge Trail. After about 0.1 mile you will reach the ridgetop with nice 360 landscape view.

After additional 0.1-mile turn left onto the downhill Serpentine Trail. Once reaching the low section turn left onto the Grizzly Gulch Trail and after 0.2 miles you will reach a small nice Tule Pond.


After the pond the trail becomes a narrow single-track trail and continues for about 4 miles in a long descent, the last part passing through a wooded area and crossing the creek before reaching the road.

After reaching the paved road another 2 miles of hiking on the road along the Coyote Creek running water will take you back to the parking lot.



4. Very long 18 miles hike:

This hike visit 2 remote large lakes in the middle of the park.

Start as trail #3 and at Tule Pond turn right and go up to Wasno Road using the narrow Tule Pond Trail. Turn right on Wasno Road and then left on Wagon Road all the way to Coit Road.

Turn left and go down to Coit Lake. Once reaching the lake take the trail on the left (west) side of the park and go to the large dam section. From here go to Willow Ridge Road south and go down to the Kelly Lake. From Kelly Lake take the Kelly Lake trail that is going up the steep hill.

Turn left on Wasno Road and after short time take the Dexter Trail down.

Connect to Grizzly Gulch Trail turn right, see trail #3 instruction how to go back to the starting point.

 

Web:

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=561

https://coepark.net/

 

Map:

https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/561/files/HenryCoeWEBpdf.pdf

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