2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Hiking Henry W. Coe State Park, California

California's second largest park has an impressive trail system.

by: Richard Graybill

PAGE 1 2

Little Known Fact: Did you know you can see shooting stars on the ground? Look for the flowers blooming in the grass at Henry W. Coe State Park.

Sprawling across northern California's Diablo Range, Henry W. Coe State Park is an impressive swatch of land. Its 89,000 acres perch above the Santa Clara Valley at elevations up to 3,600 feet, offering splendid views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

But what's really special about California's second largest state park is its 200 miles of well-kept trails, most of which are lightly used (all begin at park headquarters near the only public entrance). One particularly hiker-friendly feature here is that the trails have extensive interconnections, making it easy to put together a trip that suits your needs. Henry W. Coe can accommodate everybody from out-of-shape weekend warriors to outdoor hardbodies looking for weeklong excursions.

Falling somewhere between those two extremes, I set out across gentle, grassy ridgetops dotted with big black oaks on a 4.5-mile trail to my first campsite. Just past the trailhead I noticed a small sign planted in a patch of miner's lettuce, bearing one of the most sweeping prohibitions I'd ever seen: No Diving Within The State Park System. I decided I'd keep it in mind if I chanced across some water.

I left the open ridges and began a steep descent through mixed oak forests. Many of the trails start high and descend rapidly. The one I chose was no exception, dropping about 1,500 feet the first day. The gently rounded hilltops were separated by deep, rugged canyons, which always seemed to be at right angles to my chosen route.

I reached the canyon floor and found a number of good tent sites on the grassy flats along a small stream.

China Hole in Coyote Creek is the only good natural swimming hole within the area I had chosen to hike. I was tempted to dive in, but recalled the "no diving" edict and restrained myself. Nearby, the steep, rocky walls of The Narrows left just enough room for the stream and the surefooted. I decided to make camp and do some exploring in the morning mist.

One warning: If you don't like frog music, don't visit Henry W. Coe in the spring because the amphibians sing out all night long. Think of them as a positive link to the bustling city you left behind ~ kind of a backcountry street-corner serenade.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Oct 28, 2011

I would not consider Pumas rare in Henry Coe, especially if you have an eye for track and sign. There are plenty of fresh ghost cat prints in the most remote places of the park, especially during mating season.

Jul 05, 2009

Just discovered this place yesterday. Seen the no diving sign too. Great place lots of Poison oak though. Nice place for Biking, camping, backpacking or just hiking


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Ruined jacket in dryer
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: SWest
Trailhead Register
Stick is fine
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: eyebp
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions