April 2011: Henry Coe Backpacking Trip Report

Location: Henry Coe State Park near Morgan Hill, CA

Dates Hiked:  April 9 – 10, 2011

Trails Hiked: 

  • In from Coe Ranch Headquarters: Monument Trail to Hobbs Road to Frog Lake Trail to Middle Ridge Trail to Hobbs Road to Skeels’ Meadow Campsite.
  • Out from Skeels’ Meadow: Hobbs Road to Middle Ridge Trail to Frog Lake Trail to Flat Frog Trail to Corral Trail to Coe Ranch HQ

Total Distance:

  • In: 4.1 miles.
  • Out: 5.7 miles.
  • Roundtrip: 9.7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous

Conditions: Sunny in the 50’s during the day.  Nearly freezing at night.

Other Rules/Info: No fires. No dogs. Must camp at designated sites. $8 per day per vehicle parking rate.  $5 per night per person Backcountry Camping rate.

Trip Report: On Friday night a group of 7 people + 1 dog camped out at the Coe Ranch Headquarters campgrounds (FYI, this entrance is the only one that has a campground and dogs are allowed only here, and not on any trails).  In the morning 2 people + 1 dog headed back home, and the remaining 5 of us headed to the HQ to reserve a site (we were hoping for China Hole but alas, it was taken).  So we set our sights for Skeels’ Meadow, after a suggestion from the Henry Coe ranger the previous night.  Skeels’ Meadow is located in a valley between Middle Ridge and Blue Ridge, along the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek.  We parked at the overflow parking and headed out on Monument Trail.  Starting immediately uphill, we saw very nice views of the park from the top (0.5 miles).

Monument Trail then hits Hobbs Road.  It is a hard downhill from here, with a grade made for vehicles and not hikers.  Once you hit the Little Fork Coyote Creek crossing (0.8 miles), you will start upon Frog Lake Trail.  At this point, we noticed a trail to the east called Flat Frog Trail.  We checked the map and decided that we would take that option on the way back to avoid the steep uphill of Hobbs Road with a longer, flatter trail.  Frog Lake Trail was enjoyable and scenic.  A picnic table was set up at the end (1.0 miles) where you continue onto Middle Ridge Trail (0.1 miles) and back to meet up with Hobbs Road again.

Back on Hobbs Road, you drop down from an elevation of 2899 ft to about 1580 ft in a mere 1.8 miles.  This is where the “strenuous” difficulty rating comes in.  You pass an outhouse at Deer Horn and finally reach the sign for Skeels’ Meadow.  We found a fire ring and well-placed logs surronding it, but luckily didn’t start a fire, as the same ranger that recommended this secluded site stopped by our campsite after dark.  In any case, we did some exploring at Coyote Creek and relaxed at camp for the rest of the day.


Throughout the day, we only heard one other group of hikers pass by while we all were taking a nap.  We spent the evening hanging around the lamplight, and talking with the Ranger when he stopped by.

The night was very cold – Shaun said it most likely hit below freezing.  The following day we packed back up and headed back out of the valley.

The grueling 1.8 miles back up Hobbs Road took us a very long time with many breaks in between.  We stopped for lunch at the picnic table again, and continued the 1.0 mile Frog Lake Trail.  Here we chose to avoid the hilly 1.3 miles on Hobbs Road to the HQ, and we took Flat Frog Trail which took us around the side of the hill for 2.3 miles.  This was another scenic and beautiful trail, with varying landscapes: from trees to rocks and small waterfalls to desert-like bushes to wide open grassy fields to awesome views of the hills of Henry Coe Park.  Flat Frog Trail ends near Old Corral, which looked like a popular spot for day use.  We continued on to Corral Trail for 0.6 miles to reach the Coe Ranch HQ.

Overall, it was a great opportunity for an early season trip and almost the perfect time to visit Henry Coe.


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