Although Henry W. Coe is the largest CA state park in northern California this is not a "famous" park ... but if you are looking for something close to the bay with many options doing long hikes or bike rides and wilderness backpacking experience this is your place.
The park spread over large area of mountains and streams with many options to do very long hikes. It also offer overnight backpacking in organized campsites or more wilderness sites.
The park has relatively few visitors, even during weekends, and you will have plenty of nature all to yourself.
I visit the park during Nov. 2022 and all is open to the public.
I re-visit the park Jan 2021 and it is open to the public at the north entrance visitor center. 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.
Located 1 hr drive south of the bay area, east of Morgan Hill.
The large park has few entrances, the main one with the ranger station, small visitor center, and campsite is at Coe Ranch Visitor Center (end of E. Dunne Ave road).
South park entrances:
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 (I never visit this entrance).
Due note 1: The south section of the park is mountain bike friendly
Due note 2: Recommend to visit here in a nice winter/spring day, all the hills are green and you can find water in the streams.
Due note 3: For most trails, especially deep in the area there is no much shade, take this into consideration when hiking in hot summer days.
This is very large state park and even after 10 visits here I can’t say I saw it all.
I did few hikes in the north section of the park and few long hikes covering some sections in the south sections of the park.
Although there isn’t any specific attraction point that you come to see here, I really liked this park. When hiking here you experience "real" remote wilderness experience, you will see only few people along your hike, endless trails options and many hikes. The park open landscape, hills covered with old oak trees and open grassland.
Except of few short/medium length hikes near the north park entrance this park is mainly for hiking long trails, if you want to visit one of the park lakes you will need to cover long miles and cross few mountain ranges.
I highly recommend this park for people doing mountain bikes.
The huge park is networked mainly by wide and well-maintained fire roads trails that connected by single-track paths.
Usually there is no shade along the trails, the forste are not dense, bring with you a lot of water when hiking here during the hot summer season. When it is raining you will not find protection in the forest.
There aren't any specific “park attraction” that people come to see here.
I found that this is the best place to do long hikes, cover a lot of ground, discover the mountains and water streams, excellent place to see 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.
Campground: 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:
There are few options to hike near the north visitor center.
Short Hikes: You can have short 2-3 miles hikes in trails near the visitor center.
Option 1 (Blue trail, See above map):
From the visitor center take Coral Trail, connect to Spring Trail that will lead you to Manzanita Pt Rd. Keep hiking 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 when walking on the main road back.
This trail does not include mountain climbs, so it is relatively easy.
Option 2 (Red Trail, See above 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 take the shorter Hobbs Forest Road back to the visitor center.
From Frog lake you can connect to Manzanita Point ridge through Flat Frog Trail, although this is longer option this is the recommended way to go back and to enjoy more sections of the park.
Long hike (Orange Trail extension, See above map):
Once you are reaching Manzanita Point Camps hike left into Cougar Trail that is going down the mountain all the way to Coyote Creek.
Once reaching the creek that may have running water you can hike north along the river directly to Poverty Flat Rd.
Another highly recommended option is to take the unmarked Narrow Trail. This is nice narrow section of the canyon, where you need to cross the stream and find your way to Los Cruzeros wilderness camp site.
Once reaching Los Cruzeros wilderness campsite keep walking until you will reach the road and here you will turn left and climb the hill to Poverty Flat Rd..
Turn left on Poverty Flat Rd. hike up on the dirt road and then follow it all the way down to Poverty Flat.
From here you can hike all the way up on Poverty Flat Rd., turn right on Manzanita Pt Rd. that will lead you back to the visitor center.
Last time I hike this rout, with slights modifications (see below map), was at Nov. 2022. Overall this was 12.2 mile long with Total Ascent of 2,600 ft and it took me 5:40 hours to hike it.
Visit at the South section of the park
(Hunting Hollow parking)
This park span over several mountain ridges and creeks, most of the landscape is open grassland with Oak trees.
You can do several different loop combinations using the many trails in this aria, what I did below is only a few of the available options you can hike.
Hikes in this park section are usually long and include mountain ridges ascents and long exposed trails so take that into account when planning how much water you need to carry with you. During summer days most creeks are dry and if you are planning to use lakes water you must purify them before drinking.
I did not hike all the available trails in this park section, it is just to big. From my experience it looks like that the trails and the forest dirt roads are in relatively good condition and at most trail junctions there are clear markings with trail names.
after saying the above because trails are long and relatively remote it is always good to bring a good paper map with you and to know how to navigate.
South Section 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.
Pictures from my Nov. 2022 Visit