Distance: 7.2 miles (plus an optional extension)
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous with a tough hill at the end. Trail quality varies and includes dirt roads, some groomed trail, and some trails that look more like goat tracks than the kind of trails we are used to.
We'll start this hike from the Dowdy Ranch Visitor Center, 7 miles from Bell Station on Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass Road). First, we'll take a 500' climb up Burra Burra Peak, the only volcanic peak in Coe park. An option side trail climbs an additional 100' or so to the top yeilding extensive 360 degree views including the San Carlos Range to the south, and the remainder of Coe Park to the north and west.
From Burra Burra, we'll continue along the ridge top along Center Flats Road before descending the steep Scherrer Trail, with another optional side trip to Scherrer Pond. Returning to the Scherrer Trail, we'll continue down the hill to Pacheco Creek before taking the North Fork Trail and the Mac's Corral Trail through forests of blue oak back to the Visitor Center. The North Fork Trial follows the creek bed and I find it particularly scenic and, if you time it right, can have an abundance of wildflowers. Mac's Corral Trail is a tough 900' climb to end on, but at least provides partial shade.
Directions: Take I-101 south to Gilroy, and then take Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass Road) east as far Bell Station (about 5 miles east of Casa de Fruta), and then turn left on Kaiser Aetna Road 7 miles to the Dowdy Ranch Visitor Center. Parking at the Visitor Center is $8.
Weather: This area is noted for being hot and dry. If the forecast high for the day is above average, then I'll cancel the hike.
Carpool: Details to follow, but we will meet at 7:30 to carpool. The last 7 miles of the journey is on a dirt road, so we will need volunteers who are willing to dive 14 miles of dirt roads. The road is in good condition and drivable by any relatively practical vehicle (leave the Ferrari at the car pool site), but your car will get very dusty. For sure, I'll volunteer my Subaru.