Backpacking Campsites at Coe Park

All the campsites listed below can be reached from park headquarters within a day.  The list includes all designated campsites in the park, except for horse camps.  The distances listed from park headquarters to the campsites are for the routes we most often recommend, not necessarily for the shortest routes.  The elevation of each campsite is also provided to give you an idea of elevation gains and losses.  Elevations and mileages are averaged for areas with multiple campsites.

Beyond the designated sites are backpacking "zones," which have no designated camping areas.  In the backpacking zones, you can camp wherever you like

Headquarters Elevation:   2,640 feet

  • Water.  We've provided information about water availability in each of the campsite descriptions.  However, be sure to ask park staff about current water conditions before you head out on a backpacking trip.
  • Outhouses.  Over half of the campsites have an outhouse nearby.  Due to understaffing at the park, however, we're unable to keep all the outhouses clean and stocked with toilet paper (...our apologies).
  • More Information.  At park headquarters, in a binder called Camping at Coe, you'll find route maps and photographs for each of the backpacking campsites in the park.  (The book was created by park volunteer Marty Michael.)

China Hole Camp     Elevation:  1,170 feet - Distance from HQ:  5.1 miles
China Hole Camp is a great backpack site, with year-round water, a small sandy beach, smooth rocks for sunbathing, and frog choruses in the spring.  The site is named for the park's most popular swimming hole, which is about 100 feet downstream.  It's also located just a few hundred feet downstream from the confluence of the Middle and East forks of Coyote Creek and the gateway to the Narrows.  The swimming hole is usually quite deep even in the summer, but the water may get a little too green for some swimmers as August approaches. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Deer Horn Spring Camps     Elevation:  2,450 feet -  Distance from HQ:  2.8 miles
This camping area is about 1.2 miles beyond Frog Lake on the far side of Middle Ridge, about a half mile from the ridge top.  The spring has water most of the year, but during recent years it's had little or no summer flow.  There are 3 backpack sites in the area and a somewhat centrally located outhouse.  The campsites are marked with wooden posts. 

Frog Lake Camp     Elevation:  2,500 feet - Distance from HQ:  1.6 miles
Probably the most popular destination within 2 miles of headquarters, this spring-fed former cattle pond of the old ranching days offers a pleasant, shady place to relax and enjoy nature.  There are few frogs and the fish are often hard to catch due to floating vegetation, but the one-acre pond is quiet and peaceful, a good place for watching acorn woodpeckers and other birds.  The 1 backpack site is along Hobbs Road near the outhouse.

Lion Spring Camp     Elevation:  2,280 feet - Distance from HQ:  1 mile
This shady, secluded site is in a lovely location a quarter mile down a side trail that branches off from the Springs Trail on Pine Ridge.  The campsite has a large, sprawling chert rock outcrop, a picnic table, and an outhouse.  The spring, located at the base of the outcrop, is quite reliable except in serious drought years.  Sada said that mountain lions would crouch on top of the rock and wait for deer to come drink from the spring. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Los Cruzeros Camps     Elevation:  1,220 feet - Distance from HQ:  6.1 miles
Over 200 years ago, at what is now Los Cruzeros Camp, Juan Bautista de Anza and his men crossed the East Fork of Coyote Creek during their 1775-76 expedition from Mexico.  Surrounded by ridges, the camping area is in a broad, rocky expanse close to where Kelly Cabin Canyon meets the East Fork of Coyote Creek.  During the rainy season and the spring months, you can get water from the creek.  In the summer, the creek usually dries up.  The nearest year-round source of water is at Lost Spring Camp (which is about a half mile away and 380 feet higher in elevation).  The 3 campsites at Los Cruzeros have little shade.  The first one, which is beside Mahoney Meadows Road at the mouth of Kelly Cabin Canyon, is partially shaded by a large sycamore tree.  The second (and some say the best) campsite is upstream to the northeast in a bouldery area out of sight of the road.  The third site is further upstream, on the north side of the creek, within view of where the road crosses the creek.

Lost Spring Camp     Elevation:  1,600 feet - Distance from HQ:  (See note)
Lost Spring Camp is on the far side of Mahoney Ridge's north end, about a half mile from the ridge top.  The nearby spring is a very reliable source of water, and it usually flows well even in the summer and fall months.  During the day, you can sit quietly near the spring and watch birds and squirrels as they come to drink.  The campsite is located at the end of a side trail, up the hill less than a hundred yards south of the spring, and you may need to search a bit to find it.  This shady, peaceful camp has a picnic table and an outhouse, and with its year-round water supply and abundant shade, it's one of the best choices for a summer camping spot. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.
Note:  This site is 6 miles from headquarters via Poverty Flat Road and Mahoney Meadows Road.  It's 7.8 miles from headquarters via China Hole Trail and the Narrows.  You'll want to take the shorter route during the rainy months, when the East Fork of Coyote Creek fills the Narrows with water.  When the Narrows is passable, it provides a lovely corridor full of interesting riparian plants and wildlife.  Although there is no trail through the Narrows and the terrain is mostly rocks and boulders, you'll find it a very worthwhile route if you travel slowly and watch your step.

Madrone Soda Springs Camps     Elevation:  1,520 feet - Distance from HQ:  3.5 miles
These camps are in Soda Springs Canyon at the base of Pine Ridge.  From 1879 to the mid 1940s, the area was the site of a thriving mineral springs resort.  Ask someone at the Visitor Center to show you photos of the two-story hotel, cabins, dance pavilion, and barn that once stood in this remote spot.  All that's left now are a few crumbling steps, a concrete sink, a stone cooler, and some locust and almond trees.  Even the mineral springs have disappeared.  There are 2 campsites in the area with lots of level ground for tents.  Spring wildflowers are especially nice at Madrone Soda Springs, but the creek will probably be dry by summertime.

Manzanita Point Group Camps     Elevation:  2,270 feet - Distance from HQ:  2.6 miles
Giant manzanitas, ponderosa pines, and oaks shade this pleasant knoll at the east end of Pine Ridge.  The ten campsites in the area can be reserved for groups with 10 to 50 people, but there are almost always unreserved, unoccupied sites that backpackers can use.  Manzanita Point is a great destination for beginning backpackers, semi-lazy backpackers, and backpacking families with small kids.  All the sites have at least one picnic table and an outhouse nearby.  Although there is no treated water available in the camp, the water in nearby Bass Pond can be filtered and boiled for drinking.  Rabbit Spring, at the end of a little trail below site 10, often flows in winter and spring but is sometimes dry in summer and fall.

Mexican Flat Camp     Elevation:  1,660 feet - Distance from HQ:  4.4 miles
Mexican Flat is not very easy to find, but it's a great choice if you're in the mood for seclusion and you'd like a site with both sun and shade.  The camp is located next to the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek in the canyon between Middle Ridge and Blue Ridge.  There are two ways to reach Mexican Flat.  From Upper Camp, you can rock hop or wade up the Middle Fork about a half mile until the narrow canyon broadens out and forms a flat, sunny, grassy bench on the north side of the creek (your destination), or you can climb up the wooded hillside west of Upper Camp until you reach a flat shelf, head northwest along deer trails until you see the canyon open out, descend to the creek, and cross to the flat on the other side.  Whichever route you choose, look for an outhouse behind the flat where the woods begin.  The creekbed along the flat usually dries up in summer, but you can find year-round pools a half mile up the creek from the campsite. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Old Corral Camp     Elevation:  2,500 feet - Distance from HQ:  0.8 miles
This campsite is on an oak and pine covered hill behind a dilapidated old corral on the top of Pine Ridge.  A little bit north of the corral is a large ponderosa pine with a slightly flattened top.  The pine is thought to have been the favorite tree of Sada Coe, who donated the original 12,500 acres of Coe Park.  The stately tree is called Sada's Pine in her honor.  The site has a picnic table and an outhouse (in need of repair).  There is no water nearby, but you can walk to headquarters in 20 to 25 minutes and replenish your supply. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Poverty Flat Camps     Elevation:  1,200 feet - Distance from HQ:  3.9 miles
The Middle Fork of Coyote Creek runs through Poverty Flat, which is nestled in the canyon between Pine Ridge and Middle Ridge.  The 5 backpack sites in the area are spread out along the rocky creek and are pleasantly shaded by large oaks and sycamore trees.  In wet years, the creek flows throughout the spring, and in the summer and early fall scattered pools of water remain in the creek bed.  In drought years, when the creekbed is dry, you can usually find pools of water about a half mile upstream.  An outhouse is located across the road from campsite 4.  You may wonder how this lovely little canyon became associated with poverty.  Joseph Finley once homesteaded the area, and he had a tough time growing crops due to the scarcity of sunlight and the abundance of infertile, rocky soil.  Nevertheless, Finley refused to sell when Henry Coe offered to buy the land to enlarge his own holdings.  So Henry, obviously peeved, began calling Finley's homestead "Poverty Flat."

Ridge View Camp     Elevation:  2,500 feet - Distance from HQ:  0.9 miles
Ridge View Camp is a short distance from Manzanita Point Road on the top of Pine Ridge.  Although the site has no water, it's close to headquarters, it has great views of Middle Ridge and Blue Ridge, and it's in the middle of a friendly little blue oak forest.  The camp doubles as a drive-in campsite for disabled people who make arrangements with park staff in advance of their arrival.  The site has a picnic table and a wheelchair-accessible outhouse. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Sada's Spring Camp     Elevation:  1,880 feet - Distance from HQ:  4.4 miles
Sada's Spring Camp is about a quarter mile from the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek, which runs through the canyon between Middle Ridge and Blue Ridge.  The camping area is surrounded by large manzanitas, and Sada's Spring usually flows well all year, even in times of drought.  Wild pigs sometimes damage the pipes and water troughs, though, which can make it harder to collect water.  The site is at the end of a short side trail that branches off Hobbs Road about a quarter mile up the "Short Cut," an incredibly steep stretch of road that can become a short cut to exhaustion or heat stroke if you're not prepared with plenty of water and energy.  Nonetheless, this route to the top of Blue Ridge provides a challenging side trip from camp and will reward you with breathtaking views if you have any breath left after climbing 1,500 feet in 1.3 miles. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Sierra View Camp     Elevation:  2,800 feet - Distance from HQ:  0.8 miles
Sierra View Camp is located about a quarter mile from the junction of Hobbs and Manzanita Point roads at the end of a short side trail.  The camp is close to headquarters, it has a picnic table and an outhouse, and (best of all) it has gorgeous panoranic views of the park and the Santa Clara Valley.  Looking east on exceptionally clear days, you can see the lofty peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, over 140 miles away.  The spring alongside the trail to the camp is usually very reliable. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Skeels' Meadow Camps     Elevation:  1,580 feet - Distance from HQ:  4.1 miles
The 3 campsites at Skeels' Meadow are along a side road that heads east from Hobbs Road.  All three sites are close to the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek in the canyon between Middle Ridge and Blue Ridge.  Skeels' Meadow is a sunny, grassy glade bordered by oaks, California bay laurels, and big-leaf maple trees.  In the spring, the tender green grass and colorful wildflowers make this spot an excellent destination.  The sites are marked with posts.  Two of the sites are tucked under trees and are quite shady, and one is in a sunny spot on the northeast side of the meadow.  You can usually find purifiable water in the nearby creek, even during the summer months.

Two Oaks Camp     Elevation:  2,640 feet - Distance from HQ:  2.0 miles
If your destination is Frog Lake, and the campsite at the lake is already taken, you can use Two Oaks Camp as an alternative.  The campsite, a flat area surrounded by oak trees, is about a half mile north of the lake at the end of a short spur trail off Frog Lake Trail.  You can get water from a spring a little ways up Frog Lake Trail. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Upper Camp     Elevation:  1,640 feet - Distance from HQ:  4.1 miles
The side trail to Upper Camp is along Hobbs Road a short distance upstream from where the road crosses the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek.  Upper Camp is a wonderful place to nap in the shade, bask in the sun, and spy on wary trout.  Water is available year round in the creek, and at least one pool stays deep enough to swim in through early summer and sometimes year round.  Because the camp is at the bottom of a deep canyon, it's usually quite cold in the winter and early spring, but on hot summer days it's often pleasantly cool. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.

Willow Ridge Camp     Elevation:  2,200 feet - Distance from HQ:  6.5 miles
This site provides a welcome resting spot after you've climbed almost to the top of the ridge on the incredibly steep, heart-pounding Willow Ridge Trail.  The camp is about 200 feet below the crest of Willow Ridge on a short side trail.  Along the spur, you'll pass a spring that's been flowing sparingly if at all in recent years.  The camping area is a large flat grassy shelf of land shaded by huge old oak trees, and it has a incredibly lovely views of the ridges to the west.  This is another site highly valued for its peaceful seclusion and beautiful vistas. There is 1 backpacking site at this location.



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