Backcountry Weekend


Backcountry Weekend 2018
April 27, 2018 - April 29, 2018  
Dowdy Visitor Center - Bell's Station Entrance -
Pine Ridge Association Events


2018 Backcountry Weekend

>>> Click Here to Register On Line <<<


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 27th - April 29, 2018. The 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 horse back 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.

Day Use, One Night Camping, and Two Night Camping Options

Hikers and equestrians may choose to just come in for the day on Saturday or Sunday. Campers, equestrians, and backpackers can choose to camp for one or two nights. For those coming in on Friday, you may enter between 1pm and 6pm on Friday afternoon (the Bell's Station gate will close promptly at 6pm). The Bell's Station gate will be open from 8am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Note that, due to commuter traffic, it can take more than 2 hours on a typical Friday afternoon to reach the Bell's Station gate from South San Jose. Allow ample time to arrive BEFORE 6pm. The gate will close at 6pm!

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 into the Orestimba Corral area (one mile beyond County Line Road). Vehicles that do not meet the clearance requirement will be parked along Kaiser-Aetna Road near County Line Road.

Everyone must be on their way out from the Orestimba Corral or County Line Road areas by 5pm on Saturday or Sunday in order to make it to the Bell's Station gate by 6pm.

Shuttle service

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

Commemorative T-shirt

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:


2018 T-shirt photo, No-Name pond

More Information

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

Fees and Reservations

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

Day Use Saturday, April 28 OR Sunday, April 29
$ 30
One Night Camping Friday, April 27 OR Saturday, April 28 $ 55
Two Nights Camping Friday, April 27 AND Saturday, April 28 $ 65

Due to parking limitations, we can accommodate a limited number of vehicles each day. Register early.

>>> Click Here to Register On Line <<<

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 andcomply with the State Fish and Game regulations. We encourage catch and release with barbless hooks.

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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 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.


News & Announcements

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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.

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