Duration: 2-3 days
Distance, elevation gain/loss:
round trip: 15.5 miles, 4000 feet
Trailhead: Park Headquarters, at the end of East Dunne Avenue
Permits/fees: Backpacking permit and parking fees required; register at visitor center when open, or self-register. Depending on your schedule, camp at Upper Camp/Skeels Meadow/Sada’s Spring/Blue Ridge Zone/Poverty Flat.
• Challenging steep climbs and descents.
• Vast panoramic views from ridge tops
• Incredible sunrise and sunset if camping on the ridge
• Variety of flora and terrain
• Best stands of ponderosa pines in the park
• Rich wildflowers display in spring
• Wildlife watching - quail, hawks, woodpeckers
• Creek crossings
• Great winter hike
Elevation - round trip
Start on Monument Trail, ascending towards stands of large ponderosas on Pine Ridge. Turn left onto Hobbs Road, descend 0.8 miles to Little Fork Coyote Creek.
Cross the creek and take Flat Frog Trail, hiking past Frog Lake, reliable Pahajuello Spring and to the Middle Ridge Trail. Turn left. Picnic table at the junction with Hobbs Road offers great views east, overlooking deep canyon of Middle Fork Coyote Creek and Blue Ridge towering behind.
Continue on Hobbs Road, descend to the canyon. If you plan to camp by the creek, as you approach the canyon bottom, watch for spur road on the right (to Skeels Meadow) or side trail on the left ( to Upper Camp). Otherwise, cross the creek and start ascent (the most difficult part of the route) to the heights of the Blue Ridge. In 0.3 miles you will climb 350 feet and reach the side trail to Sada’s Spring, the last water source for the next 5.5 miles.
Continue on Hobbs - very steep, partially shaded road, with excellent views. The bench at the junction with Blue Ridge Road is a great spot to rest after a long climb. Turn right, and follow rolling ridge crest, topped with large pines, towards and past Mount Sizer, the highest point on the ridge.
Pick one of the numerous flat areas to camp if you plan to spend the night on the ridge, or continue on Blue Ridge Road to Jackass trail.
Descend on steep Jackass Trail through mixed chaparral and occasional meadows with some oaks and pines. From its junction with Poverty Flat Road it is 1.5 miles (mostly down) to the creek (year-round water) and 5 backpacking sites.
Camp or rest here, and start your final steep climb on shaded Cougar (watch out for poison oak) and China Hole trails. Alternatively, take Poverty Flat Road - shorter but steeper route which can be dusty in summer.
Camping at Upper Camp Camp
Upper camp (a designated campsite) is a spacious shady site, 0.1 miles north of Hobbs road along Middle Fork Coyote Creek. Creek usually flows year-round. Nice swimming hole just upstream from the camp.
Camping at Sada’s Spring
Small designated campsite 1/3 way up between Middle Fork Coyote Creek and Blue Ridge Road. Shade. Year-round spring nearby. Watch out for encroaching poison oak near the spring.
Camping along Blue Ridge Road
Though there is no water along Blue Ridge Road, consider camping on the ridge top for an incredible sunrise and sunset experience. This is an area of dispersed camping. There are many, sheltered from wind, 0.7 miles south of Mount Sizer, offering gorgeous views.
Reliable Black Oak Spring is 0.7 mile east (and below) the Blue Ridge Road. However, it is difficult to find, and should be considered only by experienced Coe hikers.
Camping at Poverty Flat
There are 5 designated sites at Poverty Flat area along Middle Fork Coyote Creek, with vault toilet at site #4.
• Frog Lake
• Pahajuello Spring (year-round)
• Deer Horn Spring (seasonal)
• Middle Fork Coyote Creek (at Hobbs Road)
• Sada’s Spring (year-round)
• Black Oak Spring (0.7 miles off the route, experienced Coe hikers only)
• Middle Fork Coyote Creek (at Poverty Flat)