8.8 miles, Half day
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.
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.