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2017 Backcountry Weekend applications
are now open.
For 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 28th - April 30, 2017.
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, wildflower 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 and at the Orestimba Corral.
Campers, backpackers, equestrians - all visitors are eligible! If you choose this option, you will be allowed to enter between 1:00 p.m. 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 Orestimba 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 8:00am 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 at the Orestimba Corral will be required to park on Kaiser Aetna Road unless their vehicle meets the 8" clearance requirement.
Visitors can take advantage of free shuttle service along Kaiser-Aetna Road between Center Flats Rd. and the Orestimba Corral. In addition to passengers, shuttles will help transport camping gear.
Shuttle hours are; Friday 1pm-6pm, Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday 8am-5pm
Each year we offer a Coe backcountry themed commemorative T-shirt. You will be able to place your shirt order when filling out your application. Here is the image that will be on this year's T-shirt:
2017 T-shirt photo, Hike to Rooster Comb
|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 near their horse trailer. Extra long horse trailers are restricted|
|Day Use||Saturday, April 29 OR Sunday, April 30
|One Night Camping||Friday, April 28 OR Saturday, April 29||$ 55
|Two Nights Camping||Friday, April 28 AND Saturday, April 29||$ 65|
There is no limitation on the number of people in a vehicle. Carpooling is encouraged.
Applications will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Because of parking limitations, we can accommodate a limited number of vehicles each day. Please remember that we usually receive more applications than we can accept and must decline some reservation requests. Apply early.
Provided we haven't sold out, applications will be accepted until April 1st. No T-shirt orders on applications postmarked after March 24th.
If your application is accepted, 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 accepted, we'll return your check with our apologies. You will be notified by the end of March.
Rules and Guidelines
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 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.
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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.
Thank you! We rely on your generous support.