Pine Ridge Association


Backcountry Weekend
April 27, 2012 - April 29, 2012   7:30AM - 5:00PM
Dowdy Visitor Center - Bell's Station Entrance -
Pine Ridge Association Events


It’s that time again!

delphinium-variegatum-ssp-variegatumFor one spectacular weekend this spring, Henry W. Coe State Park will again open the gate at Bell's Station on Highway 152 east of Gilroy.

The Coe Backcountry Weekend, held in the little-traveled east side of the 87,000 acre park is scheduled for April 27th - 29th, 2012.

This event, sponsored by the Pine Ridge Association and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, allows visitors vehicle access to a remote and beautiful area.

Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians have a unique opportunity to see and enjoy an area isolated from the park's Morgan Hill entrance by long distances and rugged terrain.

The east side of the park has beautiful spring wildflowers, great fishing, and scenic trails, some with breathtaking panoramic views of the Diablo Range. The ridges and valleys are broader and easier to travel than the steep terrain in the western part of the park, and you can plan day trips to areas that normally require several days of strenuous backpacking, places like Mississippi Lake and the Orestimba Wilderness.

During the weekend, you can explore on your own or you can participate in group activities, such as guided hikes and horseback rides, wildflowers walks, and bird watching strolls. To help you make the most of your visit, we'll provide brochures, park maps, and all sorts of information at visitor booths near the Pacheco Creek crossing, County Line Road, and the Orestimba Corral.

The 2012 Application form is available here. The application deadline is Feb. 29, 2012.

Two Night Camping Option

Two night camping option: Campers, backpackers, equestrians and backpackers - all visitors are eligible! If you are selected for this option, you will be allowed to enter between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m. (gates will close promptly) on Friday afternoon. Registration will be at the Bell’s Station entrance gate. Backpackers and car campers may park anywhere along the Kaiser-Aetna Road between Center Flats Road and County Line Road. Equestrians must drive in to the Oretimba Corral Horse Camp.

Due to ecological concerns and past creek bed damage, only vehicles with high clearance (8” or higher) will be allowed in to the Orestimba Corral area. Standard passenger vehicles will be parked along County Line Road.

The gate will open for all others at 7:30 am on Saturday and Sunday. As always, everyone must be on their way out by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday or 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone camping overnight Saturday at the Orestimba Corral will be required to park on Kaiser Aetna Road unless their vehicle meets the 8" clearance requirement.

Shuttles Will Be Available Again in 2012

Visitors can take advantage of the free shuttle service along Kaiser-Aetna Road to the Orestimba Corral. In addition to passengers, shuttles will be able to help transport camping gear.

Commemorative T-shirt

Commemorative T-shirt -- Wildflowers in bloom

Each year a Coe backcountry themed commemorative T-shirt is offered. This year's T-Shirt picture is shown at the right. Click on the thumbnail to see a full size view of the image.

More information

Select one of the following:
Day Users People coming in for the day only on Saturday or Sunday
Car Campers People staying overnight on Friday and/or Saturday nights and camping near their vehicle
Backpackers People hiking into the backcountry to camp
Horse Campers People staying overnight Saturday night near their horse trailer. Extra long horse trailers are restricted

Fees and Reservations

Reservation applications must be postmarked by February 24th. Download the application PDF here. Fee information is provided in the form.

Because of parking limitations, we can accommodate a limited number of vehicles each day. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please remember that we usually receive more applications than we can accept and must decline some reservation requests.

There is no limitation on the number of people in a vehicle. Carpooling is encouraged.

We'll randomly draw applications until we reach our vehicle limit.  If your application is drawn, we'll send you a backcountry entrance ticket and more information about the event, including a map to Bell Station.  If your application is not drawn, we'll return your check with our apologies. You will be notified by mid-March if your application was selected.

Rules and Guidelines

  • No tickets are sold at the Bell's Station entrance.  You must have a reservation to get into the backcountry.
  • Only one application is accepted per address.
  • Everyone is strongly encouraged to carpool. You are not limited by the number of people in the vehicle.
  • Vehicles are allowed on the Kaiser-Aetna Road (the main dirt road) between Bell’s Station and County Line Road. All side roads are closed to the public.
  • Please obey all traffic control.
  • You are allowed to camp anywhere along the Kaiser-Aetna Road between Center Flats Road and County Line Road as long as your vehicle stays on the side of the road, and does not block the flow of traffic.
  • Dogs and firearms are not allowed.
  • If you're planning to backpack, you must register first at Bell's Station.
  • Camp trailers and motor homes are not allowed.
  • Rain cancels the event.
  • Open fires, barbecues, and hibachis are not allowed.  Camp stoves are permitted.
  • If you fish, you must have a fishing license and comply with the State Fish and Game regulations.  We encourage catch and release with barbless hooks.


Dowdy Visitor Center - Bell's Station Entrance



Bell's Station on Highway 152 is located  6.5 miles east of the Highway 152/Highway 156 junction. If you're driving east from this junction, look for the unmarked left turn lane and indicate your intention to turn left well in advance. You'll first see a high rock outcrop on the south side of Highway 152, then the old white Bell's Station building on the north side of the highway. Move into the left turn lane and turn very carefully across oncoming westbound traffic. If you're traveling west from Interstate 5, the Bell's Station turnoff is approximately 22 miles from Interstate 5. Again, look for the old white Bell's Station building on the north side of Highway 152 and turn north at Bell's Station. If you miss the turn into Coe Park at Bell's Station traveling from either direction, proceed to the next safe place to turn around, which might be three or four miles.

The distance from Bell's Station to the Dowdy Ranch visitor center is seven miles. The road is unpaved, quite rough in some areas, a somewhat steep climb in the lower reaches, and has many turns and bends. Drive slowly and enjoy the gorgeous views opening up on all sides. Beware of dust and slow down if a vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. The road is safe to drive in 2WD vehicles, but carry a spare tire and extra water just in case. Plan on 30 minutes each way for the trip.  There is no parking along the road until you reach the Dowdy Ranch area. The speed limit is 25 mph.


Become a Volunteer

Coe Park Volunteer Ranger

Are you interested in learning more about Henry W. Coe State Park and sharing your knowledge with park visitors? How about helping out with annual events or maintenance of springs and trails? If so, visit our Volunteer page.

Support Henry Coe State Park


Thank you! We rely on your generous support.