Dowdy Ranch Open
Dowdy Ranch location as shown from a portion of the Coe Park official map above
For one special weekend this fall, Henry W. Coe State Park will open the gate at Bell's Station on Highway 152 east of Gilroy and allow attendees to drive along Kaiser-Aetna Road to the Dowdy Visitor Center. This rare event allows for backpacking, bikepacking, horseback riding, general day use hiking or mountain biking. The Bell Station entrance gate will be open from Friday, October 13th through Sunday October 15th during the hours of 8am to 8pm. Shaded tables at Dowdy have great views of the expanse of the park, including Tie Down Peak, and are a great place to have a fall picnic. Bura Bura Peak is a short hike away, with great 360 degree views of the park and surrounding areas.
Dowdy Ranch has year round running water, and flushing toilets. But it does not have electricity.
The rest of the park is dry, so plan your trips and water storage accordingly. There is a map with all the possible water sources here: https://coepark.net/map/water.php . Water from springs, ponds, streams or lakes should be filtered or treated.
There are many backpacking destinations that are possible from Dowdy Ranch. One such destination is Purple Pond (about 7 miles each way). Information about backpacking to Purple Pond can be found https://coepark.net/backpacking-from-dowdy-ranch/purple-pond . Camp sites must be at least 1/2 mile from Dowdy, (similar to the rules for Hunting Hollow).
As an added bonus, there will be a partial solar eclipse on Saturday Oct 14th, starting at 8:05am and peaking around 9:19am. For tips on how to safely view a solar eclipse, see https://www.nps.gov/articles/eclipsesafety.htm for more information.
For bikepackers and backpackers staying overnight, the sky will be especially dark during this event, with no moon in the night sky. Dowdy Ranch has excellent night sky seeing conditions, for objects including the Milky Way galaxy. For details on the night seeing forecast (specifically for Dowdy Ranch), check out https://coepark.net/ds-dowdy .
The printable PDF handout map for Dowdy Ranch can be downloaded here: https://coepark.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Dowdy-Ranch-Entrance.pdf . And a PDF handout for a short geology hike around Burra Burra Peak can be found here: https://coepark.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Burra-Burra-Geology-Guide-2006.pdf
Fees will be waived, if you fill out a survey form! The survey link is: https://forms.gle/ewroB6cyfs1mMQR89
Note: Dogs only allowed on leash only at Dowdy Ranch Day Use Area buildings and parking lot. No Dogs allowed on trails or roads in park.