Horseback Riding at Henry W. Coe State Park
Planning a horse ride at Henry Coe State Park? The park has almost 100 square miles of classic California terrain. Single-track trails and dirt roads wind around ridges, canyons and hollows. Various sections of the park shelter ponds, remains of hunting cabins and cattle camps. There are ridge-top views overlooking Hwy 101 far below. The cities of San Jose, Gilroy and Morgan Hill dot the distant valley floor. On some days visitors can look west as far as the Pacific Ocean. In the opposite direction on a clear day, riders can see the Sierras. To the east are layer upon layer of mountain peaks extending to the distant horizon.
While open all year round, the park is particularly welcoming in early spring when the hills and valleys are covered with wide swaths of brilliant wildflowers and the creeks are flowing with cold, clear water.
Wildlife is abundant in any season. Look closely for signs of hawks, eagles, coyote, fox, bobcat, deer, elk, feral pigs, and mountain lions.
There are three entrances for equestrians. The entrance at Hunting Hollow, only 7 miles from 101, is the most widely used for day rides. This parking lot on the south side of Henry Coe, has ample room for horse trailers. Equestrians can also access the park from park headquarters off East Dunne Ave., and from the south side of the park at Dowdy Ranch.
A good introductory day ride at Henry Coe is the 7-mile round trip along Hunting Hollow Road that has its trail head at the Hunting Hollow entrance. The scenic service road parallels Coyote Creek. It is relatively level, and crosses the creek several times.
Equestrian camping is allowed at Henry Coe. Many of the horse camps are pack-in only. Henry Coe does allow drive-in camping in certain areas, including the park headquarters and at the Dowdy Ranch visitor's center on the east side of the park. Restrictions apply, call for details.