Sunday, October 23, 2016

Henry Coe State Park



Henry Coe Bikepacking Weekend
Hunting Hollow Trailhead
Smoken Rotors

Its been a while since our last outing and I was feeling the need to Get Gone.  I've been reading about Henry Coe State Park and all the great trails there for bikepacking, hiking and of course, backpacking.  It's located in the south bay about 20 miles southeast of San Jose and just north of Gilroy off the 101.  The park is huge, 87000 acres and over 230 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.  

My plan was for a quick weekend bikepacking adventure. I wanted to explore the park from the south side and I drove to the Bells Station Entrance to make my way up to the Dowdy Ranch Visitor Center.  The park services website stated this entrance was open weekends, seasonally.  Apparently the season is already over so I had to redirect myself to the next point of entry to the park.............Hunting Hollow.



This was fortuitous since the number of trails accessible from this trail head were numerous. This is a self pay area with plenty of parking, a nice map/park info and shade structure.


I started out, down Hunting Hollow road and came across this windmill picnic area


Started up the section of trail called Middle Steer Ridge Trail.......it was steep....made a u turn and consulted the map for a course correction.


All right......this is a little more manageable..........it's still up, but not straight up single track.


There is alottle of uphill riding...........kinda like a little, but a lot. If you are opposed to climbing, fair warning.  I consider myself to be in decent shape and I've spent most of the season running, biking and hiking in the high sierras. I hate to admit, but I was walking the bike up some of these climbs. I've heard it said 

                "You don't go to Coe to train for Tahoe, you go to Tahoe to train for Coe"

That would be a Coe-rrect statement. Coe is 87,000 acres of ridges and canyons and you'll work your butt off ascending the ridgleines and peaks.


Making my way to Camp Wilson..................and still going up.


Finally, a down hill run into camp Wilson. Nice place to hold up for the night as there is a bathroom and shade structure nearby with plenty of space to set up camp......but not for me, I plan on going out a bit further and there's still plenty of daylight.

 More climbing and the long shadows are now telling me it time to start scouting areas to set camp.


Just about 10 miles under my belt and it feels like 9 of them were uphill at 3 mph. Riding single track up hill is no fun, so I stuck to the fire roads for majority of my climbing and accessed the single track for the downhills when I could.


Loving this view along Wagon Road just off the Serpentine Trail..............so I decided to make camp here. Facing East, I should have a beautiful sunrise to start my day.


Yep, that's 4 water bottles on my bike and another 3 liters in my Osprey Manta 28 pack.  I was concerned about access to water in the park this late in the season, so I took no chances. I brought along my Sawyer Mini filter and some purification tablets, just to be safe.


Set camp under this majestic oak on a ridge, looking down into the canyon towards Hurricane Pond and Vazquez Peak. I intended to hammock camp, but the temps were in the low 40s for the overnight so I went with my MountainSmith Morrison 2 and decided to sleep in luxury.


With camp set and dinner done, I got to feast my eyes on a cotton candy sunset.


I had a great nights sleep and enjoyed the sounds of nature all night long, crickets, owls, coyote and the sound of deer, (oh god I hope that was a deer) walking past my tent and tipping over my bike onto my vestibule at 3 am.  This was the gorgeous sunrise from outside my tent that morning.


I had a hearty breakfast and a nice cup of Bucks (thanks Via), broke camp and set off for another days adventure.


A little chilly this morning so I had to don the long sleeves, but I have a feeling things are going to get hot, soon.


Gonna be a great day...............saying good bye to Vazquez Peak


 Nice easy roll out and not too much climbing yet. My legs are fresh and I'm feeling pretty strong today.


Rolled on into Kelly Lake from the Kelly Lake Trail which was some crazy fun single track.  


Scoping out some nice camp locations around Kelly Lake


Just around the corner and at the next trail junction was a back country bathroom.  There are quite a few of them along the major trail routes and usually near prime camp locations.


Climbing out of the canyon from Kelly Lake along Coit Road.


After plenty of climbing and some seriously fun single track that had me screaming maniacally while grinning ear to ear, I decided it was time for a lunch break.


Lunch break view..............does not suck.  
And what better way to enjoy that lunch than in a hammock.



After lunch.............and maybe a quick nap, time for some downhill runs.



3.7 mile single track downhill............oh, this is gonna be fun! Coming down Jackson Road and connecting four different trail segments. Rock Tower to Grizzly Gulch is up first.


Looking back at the last open ridge before I dive into some mossy oak canyons.


Creek crossing at the bottom of Grizzly Gulch


Crossing over to the Spike Jones and Steer Ridge Trails......I didn't get any pics of this segment because it was so fast and so fun. 


At the end of that epic run my rotors were smoken.....I had to cool them down a bit.


And back safely to Hunting Hollow . I am definitely coming here again. Henry Coe State Park is amazing and all the trails are very well marked. There were paper maps available to take at the trail head, make sure to take one with you on your adventure.  If you want to go back country and Get Gone, this is a wonderful place to do so.  In an area where 7 plus million people live within 60 miles of this park, I only saw three other people my entire weekend.................Maybe it' really a hidden gem.....enjoy it.









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