San Francisco, CA: Hoover Lake Loop, Henry Coe State Park

Hike to a private lakeside retreat.
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Hike to a private lakeside retreat.

With annual visitation of fewer than 40,000, Northern California’s largest state park (87,000 rugged acres) offers loads of privacy—particularly in its steep backcountry. Hike nine miles into the park to earn ridgetop views of wooded slopes and a serene campsite above a small backcountry reservoir. First, avoid company on lesser-used but lush Madrone Soda Springs and Mile Trails to reach the relatively popular swimming holes along Coyote Creek’s East Fork. Then, at mile 5.6, start the calf-burning climb up narrow Willow Ridge Trail—1,200 feet over 1.6 miles, with more false summits than switchbacks—to earn your privacy. Of the four lakes accessible from Willow Ridge, one-acre Hoover, off an easy, unmarked trail, is least-visited—unless you count the lark sparrows, goldfinches, and other songbirds that flutter among its blue oaks and gray pines. In September, the evergreens offer a shaded respite from the waning summer heat. 

-mapped by Nate Seltenrich

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 29.9

Waypoints

HVR000

Location: 37.186613, -121.546846

Trailhead/Parking Lot - Start Day 1 on Corral Trail

HVR001

Location: 37.185344, -121.539695

Going out, take Spring Trail

HVR002

Location: 37.181031, -121.52617

Take Manzanita Point Road

HVR003

Location: 37.174208, -121.51612

Turn right onto the lesser-used Madrone Soda Springs Trail

HVR004

Location: 37.166451, -121.513512

Continue to Mile Trail. Expect numerous stream crossings ahead. There's a campsite here as well if you want a short day.

HVR005

Location: 37.169336, -121.508556

Dilapidated old cabin

HVR006

Location: 37.172186, -121.496539

Continue to China Hole Trail. Stay low; don't head uphill.

HVR007

Location: 37.17261, -121.495854

Take a dip in a great swimming hole.

HVR008

Location: 37.173382, -121.494904

Going out, at stream junction, follow canyon on your right. This section of unmarked trail is known as The Narrows -- follow your way through the canyon until it opens up at a mile and you meet the next trail marker on your right. Numerous stream crossings.

HVR009

Location: 37.173571, -121.490665

Find another swimming hole to cool off in.

HVR010

Location: 37.174012, -121.481432

Site: Los Cruzeros. Water + rest site + alternate camp 2

HVR011

Location: 37.174117, -121.481216

Keep to your left on narrow trail

HVR012

Location: 37.174779, -121.480831

Alternate Camp 3

HVR013

Location: 37.175112, -121.480092

Alternate Camp 4

HVR014

Location: 37.175365, -121.480121

Swimming Hole 3

HVR015

Location: 37.174798, -121.478758

Take Willow Ridge Trail

HVR016

Location: 37.174963, -121.477617

Continue on Willow RidgeTrail. Follow straight up hill - at the Y, stick to the right. Ascend 1,200 feet over 1.6 miles, with more false summits than switchbacks.

HVR017

Location: 37.171759, -121.461935

Water access to your right

HVR018

Location: 37.169315, -121.459732

Turn right on Willow Ridge Road

HVR019

Location: 37.152984, -121.450143

Turn left on the unmarked Hoover Lake Trail

HVR020

Location: 37.156386, -121.446977

Destination Campsite. Of the four lakes accessible from Willow Ridge, one-acre Hoover, off an easy, unmarked trail, is least-visited—unless you count the lark sparrows, goldfinches, and other songbirds that flutter among its blue oaks and gray pines. In September, the evergreens offer a shaded respite from the waning summer heat.

HVR021

Location: 37.181183, -121.526088

Coming back, take Forest Trail

HVR022

Location: 37.187242, -121.547398

End Day 2 - Parking Lot

Lunch and rest spot

Location: 37.16637, -121.513467

Dilapidated old cabin

Location: 37.169311, -121.508489

China Hole swimming pool!

Location: 37.172611, -121.495807

The Narrows - stick to your right

Location: 37.173397, -121.494863

Stick to your left at this junction

Location: 37.174116, -121.481152

A more private swimming hole

Location: 37.175227, -121.480122

Hoover Lake Trail junction - unmarked

Location: 37.153003, -121.450154

Hoover Lake North

Location: 37.155695, -121.448608

Hoover Lake South

Location: 37.154451, -121.446795

Rolling hills and native oaks

Location: 37.174714, -121.49791

Looking out over Henry Coe ridgelines

Location: 37.17615, -121.510162