A long weekend at Henry
Coe State Park

January 14-16, 2006
Oaks at Henry Coe State Park
This weekend me and 8 others from the Northern CA Hikers group got together to go
on a 3-day backpacking trip at Henry Coe State Park. Henry Coe is the largest state
park in northern California and it is located in the coast range just east of Gilroy. It
is over 80,000 acres in size with about ¼ of the land is designated wilderness.
There are over 250 miles of trails that roam throughout the varied topography of the
park. For ambitious backpackers there are many multi-day loops that can be done on
trails that rise and fall thousands of feet. Hardly anyplace in the park is flat and a lot
of the trails are incredibly steep.

On Saturday rain and possible thunderstorms were predicted, but we headed out in
high spirits. In the group were Paigefalk and her hubby Dave, Nazdarovye,
Snusmumriken, Jason L, Calipidder and her hubby Drunken Marmot, Jeffrey Z, and
myself. We started out hiking the 1.8 miles on a paved road from Hunting Hollow
where we parked our cars to the Coyote Creek Trailhead. Don’t know why they
don’t have parking at Coyote Creek… It started raining when we got about a mile
in and it rained lightly but steadily until lunchtime. We took the Coit Road north to the
Woodchopper Road where we began to steadily climb to a ridgeline. It stopped raining
for a short spell and we took a break and ate lunch next to a lively creek. Just when
we were finishing lunch it began raining and so on we went up to the Anza Trail then
the Jackson Trail... And the rain would not let up for about 3 hours. I fell behind the
others on the steep uphill climb but I had a nice time walking by myself in the rain and
fog. And I even saw a bobcat! That is one bonus of hiking by yourself, you tend to be
quieter and see more wildlife.

The Jackson Trail led to the Jackson Road then the Kelly Lake Trail. That first day
we hiked about 8 miles with 2,600’ of elevation gain and 1,700’ loss. Most of
the loss was in the last mile on the Kelly Lake Trail and it was very steep and my
knees were very thankful when I spotted the others at the lake. I set up my tent and
thankfully the rain let off here and there so we could cook dinner. It was chilly that
night but we cheered up as we gathered around Jeffrey’s lantern and Drunken
Marmot’s XGK expedition stove which we used as a sort of campfire. That thing
was a very loud and powerful stove!

The next day we woke up and dried out our gear and clothing and packed up slowly.
Calipidder, Drunken Marmot, and Nazdarovye headed back to the trailhead as they
were only doing an overnighter as me and the others hiked north up the Coit Road to
the Willow Ridge Road. We planned on an easier day, this time only going 6 miles and
climbing 1,100’ and losing 500’ or so. But we couldn’t find Willow Ridge
Spring so we pressed on to Los Cruzeros for the night. Again, the last mile or so was
an exceedingly steep descent and my knees were yet again happy to find myself at our
campsite for the night. The 2nd day ended up being about 7 miles with 1,100’
elevation gain and 1,700’ loss.

Los Cruzeros is where Coyote Creek and Kelly Cabin Creek join. There are many nice
campsites here near both creeks. And this time of year there is plenty of water in
the creeks and the water bubbling around the rocks sung me to sleep that night. And
it was a cold night, I think the low temp reading was in the upper 20’s.

The 3rd and final day I woke up early and was greeted with a rainbow (or maybe it
was a moonbow?). Soon everybody was up and we got started early. The first mile or
so was a very steep uphill climb up the Mahoney Meadows Road to Mahoney Ridge. But
once up on the ridge it was a nice hike. I heard lots of meadowlarks singing and the sun
came out to keep us warm. But soon enough we had to go downhill again and we turned
on the Coit Road and made good time back to Coyote Creek. The third day we did
about 7 miles with 1,600’ gain and 1,900’ loss.

It was overall a good weekend. The route was tough, especially since I haven't been
backpacking since October. And the weather was pretty nasty the first day. But it
felt good to push myself and plus I got to see a new place and meet some new friends
:)

Naz’s Photos

Calipidder’s Photos

Paige's Photos

More info on Henry Coe State Park
Which way do we go??

There are many trails and trail junctions in the
park, be sure to have a good map with you!
David is ahead of me hikin in the rain but
managing to keep mostly dry
Snusmumriken and Jason cooking and eating dinner
Dave and Paige basking in the morning sun
(finally!) and looking at the map
I bet ya didn't know that sleeping bags
and tents grew on trees!
Jeffrey and Snusmumriken wait for the sun to come up
One of a few little ponds we saw on the 2nd day
Coit Lake far below us
The pond near Hoover Lake where we ate lunch the 2nd day
Yeah!  The rain lets up just at sunset
Kelly Lake
Los Cruzeros where we camped 2nd night
View from my campsite
Rainbow (or moonbow?) before sunrise
Up on Mahoney Ridge
Jason ahead of me on the trail
A Gray Pine reflected in Mahoney Pond
Is that a mountain lion in that tree?  Nope, just Dave...
Jason's chipmunk hitchiker
As most trails in Henry Coe go...
Steeply downhill then right away steeply uphill!
The view looking west
Interesting grass hummocks in Coyote Creek
The bridge at the Coyote Creek Trailhead



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