The Pine Ridge Association at Henry W. Coe State Park
Apr 26 - Apr 28, 2024

Backcountry Weekend


Registration for 2024 is closed

For one spectacular weekend this spring, Henry W. Coe State Park will open the gate at Bell's Station on Highway 152 east of Gilroy and allow registered attendees to drive along Kaiser-Aetna Road beyond the Dowdy Visitor Center. The Coe Backcountry Weekend, held in the little-traveled east side of the 87,000-acre park is scheduled for April 26 - 28, 2024. The event is sponsored by the Pine Ridge Association and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

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 trips to areas that normally require several days of strenuous backpacking, places like Mississippi Lake and the Orestimba Wilderness.

Shooting Star flowers on Phegley Ridge

Camp for One Night, Two Nights, or come up just for the day.

We will be offering one-night and two-night camping options along with day use on Saturday. The Bell’s Station Gate will open on Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m. for registered attendees. The gate will close at 6 p.m. on both days. The gate will be open on Sunday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. for event attendees to exit.

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!

Day hikers, backpackers and car campers may park anywhere along the Kaiser-Aetna Road between Center Flats Road and County Line Road with the exception of the Pacheco Creek Crossing area. Backpackers and day users may drive as far as the County Line Road junction while car campers may drive to the Orestimba Corral. 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 Sunday in order to make it to the Bell's Station gate by 6pm.


Registration for 2024 is closed

Backpackers will be required to select backpacking zone preferences at the time of ticket purchase. Click here to see a map of the camping zones.

Questions? Comments? Send an email message to: bcw@coepark.net.

Dowdy Ranch Visitor Center - Bell Station Entrance

Bell's Station 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. As you approach Bell’s Station, 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. Look for the old white Bell's Station building on the north side of Highway 152 and turn right 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 several miles.

map coe south entrance

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. The speed limit is 25 mph except in some areas where it is posted 15 mph.