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#164868 - 04/10/12 05:59 PM Henry Coe Park, CA
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2796
Loc: California
Henry Coe Park, California, southeast of San Jose
April 6-8 2012

Henry Coe State Park is the largest state park in northern California and one of the few multi-day backpacking areas in the SF Bay area. It is a winter and spring backpacking area, perfect for times when the High Sierra is blanketed in snow. The park is on the state “chopping block” list of park closures due to budget shortages and was scheduled to be shut down in July. Fortunately enough private funding has been procured to keep it open, at least for the short term.

I did this short trip over Easter holiday with an old friend, who is in his 70’s. We may go slower than the younger folk, but we can go all day! First day we ambled along slowly to Coit Lake, spent the second day on a leisurely day-hike and returned the third day. We parked at Hunting Hollow trailhead, originally planning a clockwise loop returning via Hunting Hollow Creek. At 9AM when we started frost was on the grass. We quickly walked the road to the second trailhead, Coyote Entrance where we then followed the Coit Road to Grapevine Trail. Halfway up Grapevine Trail and behind schedule, we decided to instead veer from the plan and head east directly to Kelly Lake via Cattle Duster trail/Domino Pond Trail/Wasno Road/Kelly Lake trail. Planning on camping at Kelley Lake, we found three other groups camped there. Although tired, we continued to Coit Lake and camped at the empty campsite at the dam. We arrived after 6PM and set up at a flat spot just below the dam. It has been a dry winter at Henry Coe Park so obtaining drinkable water was a challenge. Coit Lake is reed-choked and we had to walk nearly half way around the lake to find access to the water. By the time we gathered water, set up and cooked dinner it was getting dark. Soon a full moon rose and beamed brightly all night. We traveled 10 miles with 2120 feet elevation gain and 1,080 elevation loss. We had spotted several deer and heard many wild turkeys gobbling in the bushes. Coit Lake was alive with bird song and ducks swam up and down the pond. It frosted during the night.

Mossy Oak Tree

Domino Pond Trail

Flowers on Wasno Road

Kelly Lake

Reed choked Coit Lake

Second day we slept in and opted for a shorter day hike to Pacheco Falls. We did a counter-clockwise loop around Coit Lake to the inlet, up Coit Road, north on Live Oak Springs Trail, down to the falls and back to Coit Road and back to our campsite via Coit Ridge trail. Pacheco Falls was a bit anemic from lack of rainfall and the small pond at the base of the falls was choked with poison oak. Back in camp we decided to move up to a bench on the east shore for a better view. It was quite hot this afternoon so we just sat in the shade and jabbered on, “what have you been doing the last five years?” Another group now set up a bright orange tent across the lake. A few day hikers from Kelly Lake came by our camp. They told us that there were now ten groups camped at Kelly Lake. Our day-hike was 6.6 miles with 1730 feet up and down. The second night was much warmer with no frost. The full moon again lighted the night sky and was still on the western horizon at dawn the third day.

Pond along Coit Road

Wood Duck Pond on the Pacheco Falls Trail

Pacheco Falls

Oak Trees on Coit Ridge Trail

Coit Lake from Coit Ridge

I had originally planned on returning via one of the eastern ridge routes down to Hunting Hollow Creek. It was much warmer than predicted so we decided instead to zig zag west then east and stay in the creek canyons where there was more shade. We were up early and left at 8AM, and headed west using our originally planned in-bound route via Kelly Cabin Creek. Wildflowers were abundant as we dropped the 700 feet into the creek. The creek was flowing but not as full as I had seen it in previous years. The water was clear and someday I would like to camp down here. The trail continues down the creek about a mile and half then climbs back up to Coit Ridge. By the time we climbed back up the ridge it was getting hot. We crossed the road and descended westward on the upper part of the Grapevine trail. Then we repeated a mile of our in-bound route following Cattle Duster and Domino Pond Trails until we hit the Rock Tower Trail. Ascending the trail I accidently got onto the Elderberry Trail going east which added a mile to get back to the Rock Tower Trail. The descent south on Rock Tower Trail to Grizzly Gulch trail was through a splendid Oak and grassland slope filled with wildflowers and past two little ponds. By the time we reached the trail junction our knees were worn out! We rested as several mountain bikers rode by. It was getting late so we had to continue to descend another 700 feet to the Coyote Creek trailhead. Now we had wished we had parked here! We trudged 2 miles down the paved road back to the car. Thank goodness it was shady and a good cool breeze was now blowing. We reached the car at 6PM after traveling 11.5 miles with 1820 feet elevation gain and 3200 feet descent. Although Henry Coe Park is notorious for ticks, we only found one. Our knees were a bit worn and we were a bit tired and sun soaked, but managed the first of the year hike without any major problems. Henry Coe Park is one of my favorite “conditioning” hike area. We had a great time and the weather could not have been better.

Morning Moon at Coit Lake

Kelly Cabin Creek

More mossy oaks on the Cross Canyon Trail

Oak Tree on the Rock Tower Trail

Rock Tower Trail from the junction with Grizzly Gulch Trail

Mountain bikers on the Grizzly Gulch Trail

Grizzly Gulch Creek

#164873 - 04/10/12 06:55 PM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: wandering_daisy]
Heather-ak Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
It looks great and it sounds like ya'll had fun!

I think I will do Henry Coe next year - though the idea of ticks gives me the heeby-jeebes. I guess another reason to wear gaiters, eh grin

#164884 - 04/10/12 10:15 PM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: Heather-ak]
phat Offline

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By Heather-ak

I think I will do Henry Coe next year - though the idea of ticks gives me the heeby-jeebes. I guess another reason to wear gaiters, eh grin

Gaiters don't save me from ticks.... Hate to tell you..

I've had them on my chest, my *eyelid* and even more "sensitive" places. eek
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
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#164885 - 04/10/12 10:58 PM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: phat]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2796
Loc: California
Another method is to tuck your pant legs into your socks. Ticks do not immediately burrow in so as long as you check yourself often you can usually find them. Light colored clothing is a must so you can see the little buggers. And Phat is right- they really go for your private parts! Snug fitting underware may help. They also like to get into your hair so check your scalp regularly. We noticed that a few ticks actually fell out of trees as we stood under the canopy (it was a windy day). The ticks at Henry Coe are the very small black-gray ones- not the big flat red ones like they have in the Rockies.

I have had dozens of ticks on me and I just gentely pull them off. I have had several burrow in. Then you pull them out with tweezers or cut them out. So far no tick diseases- just a few hard itchy red bumps that last a month. If you are really worried, talk to your physician. When I had my teeth "deep cleaned" I took 4 pills 1 hour before the procedure. I think there is a similar thing to use to prevent lyme disease.

#164888 - 04/10/12 11:08 PM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: Heather-ak]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I wear a big ol Sunday Afternoons hat to keep the ones falling out of my hair, and long pants with shortie gaiters to keep out the crawlers - all treated in permethrin.

Other folks had bunches of the things crawling up their clothing, I walked in peace...

We were in Coe the last weekend of March, out at Mississippi Lake. The worst thing for me is the poison oak - both times I have had a rash, it was Coe that did it. I don't rash when hiking in low elevation Sierra.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

#164908 - 04/11/12 04:33 PM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: wandering_daisy]
Heather-ak Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
Seriously? Ug - The ones we had in Michigan were tiny and only got on you if you brushed against tall grass.

Ya'll know they are arachnids, right? <shudder>

I did read that the specific ticks in Henry Coe were less likely to carry Lyme because their main food, a certain lizard, was not a carrier of lyme. Read it on the inter-tubes so... Henry Coe Tick article

Maybe in March they aren't out yet? (Rethinking the whole Henry Coe idea)

#164917 - 04/11/12 07:21 PM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: Heather-ak]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6518
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Great report, W_D; I hope they manage to keep the park open!

I haven't been to Henry Coe, but I've been a city park above Palo Alto in late March. I didn't get any ticks, but my dog was absolutely crawling with them (Frontline kills them only after they bite, and these ticks were still looking for a place to get a meal).

Shortie gaiters do work well IF you use permethrin spray on them--they keep the ticks from getting inside your pant legs. They work better than tucking pants into socks. I spray all my clothing and shoes with permethrin in the spring. We have lots of ticks around here, too, especially at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge, where everyone goes at this time of year for the early desert wildflowers and less rain.

Edited by OregonMouse (04/11/12 07:25 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#164926 - 04/12/12 11:21 AM Re: Henry Coe Park, CA [Re: wandering_daisy]
ndwoods Offline

Registered: 01/26/02
Posts: 572
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
I gotta take a trip "over the hill" and hike here!:)
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