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Gilroy, California, United States

Coyote Creek Loop at Henry Coe State Park

See the Bay Area bloom in a hidden corner of Henry Coe State Park. Strenuous 9-mile hike.

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 (7 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 8.8 miles / 14.2 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: Henry Coe State Park south of San Jose is one of the best places see the Bay Area's spring wildflowers bloom. The park is all rugged countryside: hills, ridges, canyons -- genuine wilderness barely an hour's drive from a huge metropolitan area.

The park's main entrance attracts throngs of flower gazers every spring, but few visit the remote Coyote Creek entrance. It's their loss, because this route is arguably the best place to see wildflowers at Henry Coe.

My route is between 8.6 and 9 miles with about 2400 feet of elevation gain. Most of the hiking is on narrow single-track, unlike so many of Henry Coe's old ranch roads built for cars rather than hikers. Most of the trails are nicely graded and switchbacked, making this a pleasant route by Henry Coe standards. The Elderberry Spring Trail in the middle of this hike is one of my favorite Bay Area trails.

Tips: Parking is limited at the Coyote Creek trailhead; it's best to carpool.

The park is too hot for hiking in late summer. Stick to spring, winter and fall.

Watch for poison oak along narrow trails.

Ticks will try to hop a ride, especially if you stop long in areas of tall grass (they're worst in winter and spring.) Always do a tick check after a Henry Coe hike.

What to bring:
Layers: It can be breezy on the ridges, cool in the shade, hot in the sun.
Sunscreen: much of this hike is unshaded.
Snacks and enough water for four to five hours of hiking.

Points of Interest


Coit Road>Anza Trail>Jackson Trail

From the Coyote Creek trailhead, stay on the wide Coit Road for just under a mile. You'll see a sign board describing the De Anza explorations of the Bay Area. Turn right there, and head up the Anza Trail -- which snakes up a hillside for just under a mile.

When you get to the junction with the Jackson Trail, turn right and keep heading uphill. This shady stretch has some of the best flower displays.

After about 1.4 miles you'll hit a junction with Jackson Road to the right and Elderberry Spring Trail on the left. You'll probably want to rest up here and enjoy the view after the big climb to the ridge.

Elderberry Spring Trail>Wasno Road

When you're ready to hit the trail again, take the Elderberry Spring Trail for just over a half-mile (this stretch is one of the best in the park, for my money) till you hit an old Jeep road. Turn right and go a short distance till the Elderberry Spring trail continues on the left side of the road.

Turn left and go another half-mile to Jackson Road.

Turn left on Jackson Road go about a half-mile to Wasno Raod. This area on a high ridge has some of the best vistas of Henry Coe's rugged terrain.

Turn right at Wasno Road and go .4 mile to Dexter Trail and turn right.

Dexter Trail/Grizzly Gulch/Coit Road

From here it's a very steep descent back to the trailhead. Take your time and watch your step.

Dexter Trail goes .4 mile to Grizzly Gulch Trail. Turn right there and follow it for 2.2 miles back to Coit Road. From there, turn left on Coit and head back to the trailhead.
Pictures in this guide taken by: tommangan, diskus, sea2sky, ilya_ktsn, navratil
This was my first visit to Henry W. Coe State Park and I thoroughly enjoyed this Coyote Creek loop hike! Like the other reviewer, I too was glad I chose to do this hike in the clockwise direction. The steep descent down Grizzly Gulch would be exhausting as a climb going the other direction. With some very welcomed rain yesterday the wooded sections of the hike were damp and the scent was wonderful. Elderberry Spring Trail and the trail through Coyote Creek Canyon were my favorite parts. But the views from atop the ridge were also fantastic. Looking in various directions I could see Mt. Hamilton, Mt. Carmel, Gilroy and I could even make out the ridgeline of the Sierras way off in the distance. Coming across some foraging wild pigs was just below Jackson Road was fun!
Visited on Oct 26, 2014

by SoloTraveler on Oct 26, 2014
What a great hike with fantastic and rewarding views! I was alone on the trail all the way up to Wasno Road but even after that, the company was thin on a beautiful sunny day. My kind of hike! Had lunch on a rock up at Jackson Rd. overlooking the marine layer in the valley and the mountain tops beyond. Fantastic! The hike up is gradual and scenic while the hike down the Dexter Trail and Grizzly Gulch was tough on the knees! So glad to not only have my poles, but to have gone the clockwise route rather than the other way around! Definitely knew I was going up, but never felt winded, the switch-backs are so gradual. It would be quite a work-out going counter-clockwise, if you're up for that! This time of year I may have skipped the Elderberry Spring Trail and continued on Jackson Road instead, I don't know that it was worth the detour, but maybe when the flowers are more in bloom. I was also a little unsure about the "old jeep road"- it didn't seem like a road to me, just an unmarked trail, but there weren't many other options, so I figured I was in the right place but wasn't 100% sure. I also missed the continuation of the Elderberry trail off of the Jeep road, I think, but ended up on Jackson Road anyway, so I'm not quite clear on those instructions. Outside of that, it's a great hike that I will definitely be doing again!
Visited on Feb 17, 2013

by violarachel on Feb 23, 2013

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