April 29, 2013

Backpacking at Henry B. Coe State Park

This past weekend, three dads and six boys from Walnut Creek went backpacking in the Henry W. Coe State Park, just a little southeast of the San Francisco Bay.

We left early Saturday morning and arrived at the park headquarters about 9:30 a.m., just as the beautiful morning was heating up. The campsite we'd originally picked out was already full, so we settled on a bit of a longer hike to a place ominously named Poverty Flat.

The orange line on the map below is our loop. Park headquarters is on the left. The hike in took us up along Fish Trail to the ridge trail, a total of a little over five miles to the campsite. This route has a lot of up and down, but mostly down, so it was a quick five miles even though we stopped for many water breaks since the temperature climbed pretty quickly to over 80 degrees.

The route out was faster and more direct, a ranger access road that was pretty vertical. It's about a 1500 foot ascent from Poverty Flat to the intersection with Manzanita Pt. Rd., and... well, remember that scene from Lord of the Rings where Gollum leads Frodo and Sam up the steps of Mordor? Well, okay, it wasn't quite like that, but 1500 feet vertical climb in about 2 miles is a lot of uphill.

We saw only a tiny corner of the park, which is huge. What we saw was beautiful, but it was already drying out by late April. It was hot and dry; I can't imagine how unbearable it must be in the dead of summer when all the creeks dry up. As it was, Little Coyote Creek was nearly dry although the other fork ran with enough water to refill our bottles and make our dinner. (Yes of course we brought filters.)

I don't know that I care to return to this park. Earlier in the spring might be nice, but away from the creek the heat was oppressive, and near the creek the mosquitoes were aggressive. Still, the ridge trail was beautiful, with a variety of flora and a combination of forest hiking and sweeping vistas. Some of the trails allow bikes, which was not a problem for us. In fact, we saw very few people going either direction, which I was very happy about.

I am told that nearby China Hole is a very neat place to visit, with a swimming hole. I didn't make it that far, so I can't say.

Anyway, without going on and on, here are some of my favorite photos from the trip.

Ready to set off at the trailhead.

Since I was sweep on the hike in, I got a
lot of pictures of people's backs along the trail.

See what I mean? The trail swept across meadows like this
and also wound up and down through wooded canyons.

Very near our campsite. The creek was running swiftly,
just not with a lot of water.

Also very near our campsite.

Disturbingly near our campsite. If this sight doesn't
make you keep your tent zipped tight, I don't know
what will. (It is not a rattler, by the way.)

Mosquito city. Actually, when we arrived there were tens of
thousands of ladybugs flying all over the place.

There was lots of sitting on rocks with our feet in the cool
water, which really wasn't that cool to be honest.

More feet in the water.

Our campsite. Notice my Buddhist prayer flags which I
always hang on my tent. They're actually from Nepal.

Get out here and help make dinner!

Ethan during a water break.

1 comment:

backpackingamerica said...

A backpacking trip consists of two distinct activities: hiking and camping. In this how-to guide, I've shared the gear, supplies and skills that will allow you to love hiking, while still remaining safe and comfortable while camping.

backpacking advise