Wilderness at Henry W. Coe State Park
In the region of San Jose there are different options to do hiking. As my colleagues and me did hiking in the Big Basin Redwood Parc already, we were looking for a more dry area to hike in. With the experience of clowds almost not reaching the Henry W. Coe State Park, we packed our stuff for a day hike in this area.
To get there from San Jose, take the 101 to exit Morgan Hill. From there the East Dune Ave leads up the hills to the State Parc. It is a pretty curvy street (almost no 50 meters straight), but with its beautiful views down into 'Silicon Valley' and over the Anderson Lake, the drive up there is already a great experience.
At the entrence to the park (some 500 meters away from the headquarters), you will have to pay for the dayparking (I think it was about 5 $). In case you plan a longer hike over several days, tell the person at the parking and at the headquarter, where you have to register for that. They want to know if people are lost in the park. That seems to happen as I heard the staff at the headquarter office talked about that.
At the headquarters office I asked for a possible trail we could do that day. They gave me a paper and marked a trail according to my wishes (distance roughly about 10 miles). Also I bought a map covering the whole park. Looking at it makes me realize that we just can cover a glimpse of the whole park. It is huge.
Our hike followed the following trails: Frrom the headquarter follow the Corral Trail to the Old Corral (watch your step, there are snakes crossing and ticks in the grass). From there continue on the Springs Trail and the path on which the trail leads to the Bass Pond (here we saw wild turkeys and a vulture!!!) From here take the China Hole Trail down (!) to the China Hole in the Canyon. Follow the Mile Trail to the Madrona Soda Spring and go up the hill on the Madrona Soda Spring Trail. This part is pretty stressy with the sun shining and taking energy. Now the way is going back basically on the same track as you came, but instead of the Springs Trail, you can walk the Forest View Trail, which offers some great views on the hills close by.
Some important things to mention:
1) You will encounter lots of ticks, which are nasty as they try to climb on you. My colleagues found three of them each on the body (I was lucky and stayed clean) and we saw many waiting on grass to be picked up. Luckily they are much bigger than in Europe and more easily recognized.
2) There are snakes in the area, including the rattle snake, which is the only snake with poison here. So take care, as they from time to time cross the paths. We saw two snakes, but none was a rattle snake. The day we have been there, they caught one on the camp site.
3) It can get warm here, so bring a lot to drink and some food. If you forget it, buy some in the headquarter. They have cooled water for 0.5$ the half liter.
4) The area is mountain lions territory. Do not hike alone and take care of kids, if you have some with you. Having seen the grass I guess it is hard to realize them in time. The park suggests not to run away nor to bend, nor to show your back. Be loud and try to appear larger as you are. Thats why it is an advantage to be more than one person. We asked the person at the parking about the mountain lion. He said, he hasn't seen one yet, but I just want to mention it.
5) Do not feed coyotes, they will think, that it is normal and return!
6) Hiking overnight, register at the headquarter.
7) Don't forget sun cream!
Oak trees, different types, are the major sort of trees in the Henry W. Coe State Park.
At the China Hole you will see a little creek. In its ponds you can see little turtles if you are lucky.