Difficulty: Strenuous 15.4 mile, 4260 feet of elevation gain on trail and fire road hike. We must hike at a fast pace due early sunset. Must bring headlamp and Ten Essentials.
Highlights: "The Shortcut" (1,500 feet of elevation gain over 1.3 miles), Mt Sizer peak (3216 feet), views of Mt. Hamilton (4,367, Santa Clara County High Point), Jackass Peak (1784 feet) and many other views of Henry W. Coe State Park.
Trailhead: Park entrance/Coe Visitors Center. Take I-80 West to I-680 South to US 101 South. From Highway 101 in Morgan Hill (1/2 hour south of San Jose), take the East Dunne Avenue exit and go east past Anderson Lake to the end of the county road. The road to the park beyond Anderson Lake is 10 miles of narrow winding road. The trip will take about 30 minutes. Park in the lot at the visitors center. Entrance fee is $8.00 per vehicle.
Trail Description: The route is a clockwise loop. Begin with a steep climb on Hobbs Road, then veer left onto Monument Trail. This narrow trail soon rejoins Hobbs Road, where you veer left and continue down to Frog Lake at Little Fork Coyote Creek. Here, turn right onto Frog Lake Trail. At the junction with Middle Ridge Trail, turn left. This trail also soon rejoins Hobbs Road, where you turn right. Continue down a long grade, cross Middle Fork Coyote Creek, and continue very sharply uphill on Hobbs Road (this segment is nicknamed "The Short Cut") until you reach Blue Ridge Road. Turn right and follow this road southeastward along the ridgetop to the vicinity of Mt. Sizer. Reaching the summit requires a short detour along a road to the left, we will have lunch at the peak. Returning to Blue Ridge Road, continue on it toward the southeast. At the junction with narrow Jackass Trail, turn right onto it. This trail eventually drops steeply to Poverty Flat Road. Turn right and follow this road down to Poverty Flat, taking the short diversion to the top of Jackass Peak. Cross Coyote Creek and continue upward on this road toward the west. On reaching Manzanita Point Road on the ridgetop, veer right onto it. At the junction with Corral Trail, veer left onto that narrow trail and return to the trailhead.
Map: See page two at http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/documents/maps/western_zone/hq_hiking_map.pdf .
Park brochure: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/561/files/HenryCoeWEBpdf.pdf