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Frog Lake (Henry Coe)

Henry Coe State Park

April 19th, 2015

6.9 miles
1660 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:59

Starting elevation
2672 feet
Max elevation
3009 feet

Rating: 6/10

Directions: Take Highway 101 south toward Morgan Hill. Exit East Dunne Ave. Follow it up into the mountains. The road dead-ends at the park, 13 miles from the freeway (this road is very narrow and winding, and will take about 30 minutes to drive). As of 2015, parking is $8.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

Henry Coe is a nice place to visit in the spring, when the temperature is still manageable and there are wildflowers and green hills. Considering that and the fact that it is the largest state park in northern California, I find it hard to believe that this is our first trip back to Henry Coe in nearly 16 years! From what we saw, it doesn't look like it has changed much.

We parked at the park headquarters. There was a sign that the Frog Lake trail was closed, but only a small portion of it, and it wouldn't really interfere with our hike. We finally got started off on our hike at noon, up the Monument Trail. We soon came to a bench with a great view of the surrounding hillsides. We could also see a raptor soaring above. We'd see more later.

Bench next to the Monument Trail

Climbing the Monument Trail

Continuing up the Monument Trail, after about a half mile we turned left onto the wide dirt road that is Hobbs Road. Hobbs Road descends, steeply at times, for about 0.8 miles down to Frog Lake. We passed several groups of hikers huffing and puffing in the opposite direction. Note that there is an alternative, slightly longer route to Frog Lake, via the Flat Frog Trail. This is single track, so might be nicer, though I'm guessing it may miss some of the views from the Monument Trail.

View from the Monument Trail

Looking back down the Monument Trail

16 years is apparently long enough that I'd forgotten I'd visited Frog Lake before, although it was fall and we didn't stop there for long on that trip (to Poverty Flat). This time, we walked around the edge of the lake until we found a nice place to have lunch, away from the couple of people trying to fish. It's a small lake, but probably nicer in spring. I had asked the ranger back at headquarters if there was water in the lake considering the drought, and he assured me there was, saying it sometimes held water the entire summer. Now, we could see the occasional fish jump out of the water, and hear something that sort of sounded like geese honking (though we didn't see them).

Strange tree near Frog Lake

Frog Lake

After lunch we headed back toward the main trail, pausing to look at some fish swimming near the lake shore. Then we continued along Hobbs Road, now climbing steeply. Of course if you've ever been to Henry Coe you know that there's only one type of climbing or descending - STEEP!

Frog Lake

Frog Lake

Fish in Frog Lake

Grasses next to the trail

Climbing Hobbs Road

After about a half mile, the trail veers right. Soon we had views to the north of Lick Observatory clearly visible atop Mount Hamilton to the north. Soon after we turned right onto the single track Middle Ridge Trail. Near this intersection is a picnic table that looks like it probably has a great view - perhaps a great place to stop for lunch. But we'd already eaten, so we continued southeast along the trail.

Mount Hamilton from Hobbs Road

This trail goes all the way to Poverty Flat (where I'd gone more than 16 years ago). This time, we turned right well before then, onto the Fish Trail. This trail descends into the forest, all the way down to the Little Fork of Coyote Creek. There wasn't much water to speak of. The trail crosses the creek and then immediately starts climbing to the south. We continued to see dry streambeds along the way.

Manzanita on Fish Trail

The trail emerges from the forest to a picnic bench near a main trail intersection. We stopped at the bench for one last break, knowing we only had about 0.6 miles to go to reach headquarters. While we rested, we saw lots of raptors circling high above. One swooped down really low, but unfortunately I wasn't ready with my camera. I only got a few distant shots while they were far overhead.



After the break, we crossed the dirt road and took the short trail back to headquarters.

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