Riding Henry Coe State Park
Updated: Apr 28, 2018
According to Wikipedia, Henry W. Coe State Park (or Coe Park for short) is a state park of California, USA, preserving a vast tract of the Diablo Range. The park is located closest to the city of Morgan Hill, and is located in both Santa Claraand Stanislaus counties. The park contains over 87,000 acres (35,000 ha), making it the largest state park in northern California, and the second-largest in the state (after Anza-Borrego Desert State Park). Managed within its boundaries is a designated wilderness area of about 22,000 acres (8,900 ha). This is officially known as the Henry W. Coe State Wilderness, but locally as the Orestimba Wilderness. The 89,164-acre (36,083 ha) park was established in 1959.
I investigated this park a few months ago and discovered that it was a delightful place to go with many beautiful features. My first trip was to the Coe park headquarters. This is in the northern part of the western edge of the park. My intention was to find out how accessible the park is to equestrian use. I was told that the Coe park headquarters was not the best place to access the park on horseback and that the Hunting Hollow entrance much further south would be better.
On Friday, February 16th, 2018, I entered the park at Hunting Hollow with my truck, trailer, and Sage. Overall the trip was extremely enjoyable. Although I planned to stay for two nights, the weather was unexpectedly cold and I ended up leaving on the second day. However, the views, and the distance covered was still the same as I had originally planned. My initial plan was to ride to Coe Lake Horse camp, and stay there the first night. And then on the second day ride to Coe Horse camp. And on the third day return to Hunting Hollow. Unfortunately, there was no access to water at Coe Lake Horse camp and so I continued on to another camp nearby called Pacheco camp. Pacheco camp was wonderful with two full water troughs that looked like they had been cleaned that day. There was ample forage for Sage and clean picnic tables.
For anyone interested, I have included the details in my SMEAC and After Action Report so I will not bog down this blog with all of that. I will instead mention that the features of the park were a mix of very well maintained fire roads, and well-marked trails. The Henry Coe State park map is excellent and worth the $10 price tag. When I went on Friday, the park was practically empty, but by Saturday morning there were a large number of hikers and mountain bikers. Everyone was extremely thoughtful and polite and considerate of equestrians. I only saw one other equestrian at the parking lot and by the look of her rig, it did not look like she was going into the back country.
If you are considering going into the back country of this park, it is important to plan your route around the availability of water. At every place where you expect to find water, make sure you have an alternate on your plan in case it is inaccessible or dry. Also check with park officials before going as they have a lot of information on the water resources of the park.