6.6 miles, Half day
This six-mile loop over the rolling hills of Harvey Bear Ranch introduces hikers to the wild terrain of the Diablo Range southeast of San Jose, California.
Harvey Bear is a section of Coyote Lake County Park, which is popular with campers, boaters and paddlers. As the wide-open trails ascend, expansive views of Silicon Valley to the north and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west open up.
My favorite features: the old oak trees, which grow contorted into strange, picturesque shapes.
Trails on this hike:
Willow Springs Trail > Savannah Trail > Rancho San Ysidro Trail > Willow Springs Trail
Best times to go: The hills turn a shimmering green in February and March, and wildflowers dot the hills throughout the spring. October and November bring the annual tarantula migration, though sightings of the big hairy arachnids can be rare. Summer is typically too hot.
Wear sunscreen; there's little shade on this route.
Trails can get very muddy in winter and spring after strong rains; give them a couple days to dry or your hike will get very gooey.
Contact: (408) 842-7800
Park hours: 8 a.m. to sunset
Fees: parking is free at the Harvey Bear Ranch trailhead.
Dogs: OK if leashed.
Driving directions: take U.S. Highway 101 to the San Martin exit. Go east on San Martin Avenue for two miles; park entrance is on the left, a quarter-mile east of Foothill Avenue.