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Bay Area Hike Suggestions
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Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 12:24:48 MST Print View

Hey everyone,

I am planning a 3-day, 2-night hike this month in the Bay Area and wanted suggestions or comments on these options.

1. Ohlone Trail -- Cary said it was chock full o' cow patties and not very remote, so I had my doubts.

2. Skyline to Sea Trail -- Again, not that remote, but I believe I could avoid the road-hiking by taking the Saratoga Toll Trail to bypass most of the highway 9 stuff. Though it seems that I'd hear cars in the background at least one night at camp, which is annoying.

3. Henry Coe -- I don't know the options here, but it seems the most remote, though not sure if it would be good for a long hike (looking for 25-35 miles or so).

Anyway, just some thoughts...suggestions from people who have been to these places would be great!

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 13:09:56 MST Print View

I have been looking into Henry Coe recently myself. It can certainly provide the length you are looking for, perhaps more. It has quite a reputation for up-and-down. My experimenting with looking at trail profiles says that you can moderate that a bit if you are careful, but it will still be plenty hilly. Just do not go cross-grain any more than you have to.

As illustrations, some longer than you asked for (to show that length will not be a problem for you):

* Park HQ - Bear Mtn Peak - Mississippi Lake - Park HQ loop
25 miles, 5500 ft total ascent

* Out to Rooster Comb and back, via Bear Mtn
40 miles, 8800 ft total ascent

* Mt Stakes -- just a tad beyond the northern park boundary (park high point)
45 miles, 14,500 ft total ascent

Hope this helps -- finding something long enough in Coe's 87,000 acres is not a problem.

-- MV

Edited by blean on 02/06/2009 13:11:42 MST.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 13:19:05 MST Print View

If you decide to hike in Coe, Call ahead for information on what parts of the park are closed due to fire damage. Last time I went it was difficult to put together much of a big loop out of the headquarters due to areas that were closed.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 13:24:16 MST Print View


I have done trips #1 & #2.

The Ohlone Trail is suprisingly remote, given its location, which surprised me since it just in my "backyard".

The big downer is that a good portion of it is in the flight path of planes going into at one point, we had a plane over us every 15 minutes or so.

This time of the year would be better than in the fall when I did it...things would be green and you would have water.

There is a fair amount of elevation loss/gain and with the rains, I would tell you to expect lots of mud. The soil is clay, so you will have clumps on your shoes to knock off from time to time.

If you do this, get dropped off at the Sunol side and finish at the Pleasanton/Livermore side.

It is very steep coming out of the Pleasanton/Livermore side, plus, the book that I have said that there can be crime issues with cars left at the Sunol side.

If you want more details, let me know and I can look stuff up in my book, "Hiking and Backpacking the Bay Area."

The Ohlone trail is about large rolling hills with a few trees....decending into a deep gully near the end with a stream or two. Overall, it is a pretty trip, but I would not do it in the late Spring or Summer...very hot, dusty, and limited water.

#2 I did this one out of Big Basin and was my 1st solo trip. A very pretty hike, cool weather with lots of trees, and you will occasionally hear the sound of cars. The annoying part was when the trail was close to the road, there was garbage dumped onto the trail or near it. Much more scenic than the Ohlone.

I did it from Big Basin to the Ocean and then yo-yo'ed back to my car at Big Basin and then headed North to the top of the Skyline trail.

I went in Oct and had limited water on the Northern part. The only water was at one of the established camps.

Again, I can look this up for you if you want and provide the information.

Between the two, if you are looking for solitude, do the Ohlone...if you want a big variety of scenery, the Skyline to the Sea.

I have not done Henry Coe, but there is supposed to be a 50 mile loop that I am interested in doing.

Anyway, hope that this helps.

P.S. Other places to go are in the Santa Cruz Mountains....Castle Rock State Park and the large number of small parks around it. Castle Rock is not too far from the top of the Skyline trail.


Edited by Valshar on 02/06/2009 13:25:23 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 13:41:07 MST Print View

I talked to the park yesterday. I did not ask that specific question (restrictions due to the fire), but it came up indirectly -- I was talking of taking a trip out to the Bear Mountain area, and he was quite positive.

He commented that there were a couple of advantages to being post fire:

* If you get off-trail, you can go places where the scrub would be impenetrable in normal conditions

* There are rare post-fire flowers out now, providing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see them

Even though I asked about any restrictions or things he should warn me about, there was no other mention of the fire damage. Sounded to me as if being post-fire is a good opportunity, not a problem.

Call the park and ask -- at least the guy I got was very pleasant and very helpful.

-- MV

Edited by blean on 02/06/2009 13:44:28 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 13:43:52 MST Print View


"I have not done Henry Coe, but there is supposed to be a 50 mile loop that I am interested in doing."

What is that trip?

I trust you have noted the thread offering a Kelly Lake trip in Coe in March...

-- MV

Jeremy Pendrey
(Pendrey) - MLife

Locale: California
Ventana / Big Sur on 02/06/2009 14:26:53 MST Print View

Another area to consider that is still close enough to the Bay Area is the Ventana Wilderness / Big Sur area. Parts of it are very remote, rugged and beautiful. However, there was a huge fire there last year so you would need to call the ranger and describe your specific route before going to be sure it's doable.

There are several loops there in the mileage range you are talking about, but again, you'd need to check on availability due to the fire. Also, there can be snow in parts of that area this time of year, so you'd need to check on that too.

Tony and I went there last March and really enjoyed it. Check out his photo gallery pics on it. Wilderness Press has a good guide book that is available in any local book store.


Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 16:33:33 MST Print View


I am not sure, but I can look it up in my book this weekend and let you know.

I did see the posting, but I may not be available if it is in March.

Busy month for me.

Will get back to you.


Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Henry Coe St. Park-GGG on 02/06/2009 17:21:20 MST Print View

I did Henry Coe last March and came in at Coyote Creek Entrance parking my car at the Hunting Hollow trail head.
From there you have access to Kelly and Coit Lake. Coit Lake has a bathroom, table and several campsites available. There are plenty of trails in the the area to make just about any type of loop you desire. Last year me and my buddy did a 14 mile loop to Coit Lake. I think we went the 2 or 3rd week in March and had perfect weather. I would like to go if all Bay Area guys are going. No worries about permits because you can self register at Hunting Hollow Trailhead-nice and easy!! From the trailhead there was no fire damage all the way to Coit Lake but you could see damage from top of the peaks in various corners of the park.


Edited by Creachen on 02/06/2009 17:22:48 MST.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Big Sur on 02/06/2009 17:48:27 MST Print View


I picked up the guidebook you were talking about--looks great, and I love that they allow dogs on the trail. Unfortunately, the Northern half of the park is closed until April due to the wildfire last year. Silver Peak Wilderness is still an option. In anycase, this seems to be the best area for me as it is close, allows dogs, and is temperate most of the year.

Jay, those pictures of Henry Coe look great. Definitely want to check it out.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/06/2009 23:50:26 MST Print View


Here is that information: Wilderness Press Book, "Camping & Backpacking the San Francisco Bay Area."

Page 312

Mississippi Lake and Beyond:
The Orestimba Wilderness
"The Most Remote Wilderness in the Bay Area."

Distance: 24 miles round trip to Mississppi Lake; 50+ miles round trip to Orestimba Wilderness

Hiking Time: 3-4 days to Mississippi Lake; 5 days to 2 weeks for Orestimba Wilderness

Difficulty 5 Stars (the most difficult)

Maps: Henry W. Coe State Park Trail and Camping Map, USGS 7.5 Min Mt. Sizer, Mississippi Creek, Mustang Peak, Wilcox Ridge Mt. Stakes

Excerpt from book:

To reach vast and remote Orestimba Wilderness requires hiking more than 15 miles across some of the Bay Area's most rugged terrain. It's another 15 arduous miles back out. In between, stay as long as you possibly can in this seldom visited wilderness area. It's an epic.

Hope that this helps.


Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Bay Area Hike Suggestions on 02/07/2009 09:21:23 MST Print View


Thanks for the reference. Both the Rooster Comb and the Mt. Stakes trips I mentioned earlier in this thread would fit that description just fine. Both of them are well-known destinations in the Orestimba Wilderness.

According to the park map, once you get past Mississippi Lake or Bear Mountain (a more logical way to get to the northern part) you are in the Orestimba Wilderness. That makes it about 11 miles (not 15) to the boundary (from park HQ).

I do not understand their claiming hiking time of 3-4 days to Mississippi Lake -- it is only 11-12 miles. Yes, there is up-and-down, but not enough to explain the discrepancy. Must not be backpacking UL :)

I am hoping that, especially once we get one or more Coe trips under our collective belts to dispel any FUD factor, we could try something like a long weekend into the Orestimba -- take advantage of going UL to do a trip like that and see some country many (most?) folks cannot get to.

I realize that not all of us will want to do something like that (glad to hear that you do want to). I am hoping that enough of us will to make it a good trip. Disclaimer: I am still working up to that myself -- it's a goal.

-- Bob

Edited by blean on 02/07/2009 09:27:05 MST.

paul young
(beerforcat) - F
RE: Bay Area Hike Uggestions on 02/07/2009 14:28:37 MST Print View

I would suggest looking into Pescadero Creek Park. It is off of 84 near La Honda in the Santa Cruz mountains. It is very secluded park. There are two trail campsite in the park, Show and Tarwater. Although they are not very far apart there is more then one way to go to each sight. I went there a few weeks back and it was very pretty there. There are no rangers to talk to when I left on a Friday, you just pay the iron ranger. The trails are well marked and easy to navigate with a map. If you go I would suggest getting the Redwood Hikes map instead of using Sempervirens the skyline to the sea map. The sky line to the sea map cuts out Sam McDonald park which is a good way to enter the park. I only had the sky line to the sea map and it was a little confusing at first.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Thanks! on 02/07/2009 22:01:16 MST Print View

Thanks everyone. So I think I've pieced together a nice alternate to the Skyline-to-Sea trail that starts in Long Ridge Open Space Preserve, then avoids the boring Highway-9 sections of the S-To-S trail by cutting south through Pescadero Creek County Park and then joins up with the classic route in Big Basin Redwood Park.

Just received an Oware bivy today, so I guess I'm already to go, and I"ll let you know how it goes. Probably next week, weather permitting.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 02/09/2009 10:24:27 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/12/2015 16:26:48 MDT.