Henry Coe (Jackson and Dexter Trails)
50% SINGLETRACK19% FIRE ROAD31% ROAD
Henry Coe is by far the largest park listed on this website and one of the remotest. While not all of it is open to mountain biking, its more than 130 square miles of total land area easily dwarfs any individual city around the Bay Area (like San Francisco, at 49 square miles) with the notable exception of San Jose. It features many excellent bike-legal singletrack trails, though it'll frequently make you work hard to get to them: its fire roads are notorious for steepness.
One other thing Henry Coe is known for is the (seasonal) prevalence of ticks. So, before you ride here during tick season, you might want to educate yourself a little bit on the kinds of places where ticks may be found, what time of year they're most active, what's their behavior once they get on you, etc. Also, frequent stops during your ride to look for ticks on your body is highly recommended, and it couldn't hurt to wear bug repellent (though I wouldn't rely solely on that).
The trails I've tried at Henry Coe have always been well marked. That's a good thing, given the remoteness of its location, since you can't exactly say "if I get lost, I'll just keep going until I hit one of the surrounding neighborhoods". Still, I wouldn't rely solely on trail signs for navigation at Coe (or anywhere, for that matter). If you are making a crucial navigation decision for your ride, be sure to have some backup verification of it (map, GPS, etc.).
In order to save yourself some embarrasment if not trouble, you should keep in mind that all singletrack trails are automatically considered closed to bikes for 48 hours any time there is at least half an inch of rainfall at the park's headquarters.
Finally, due to its inland location, the weather at Coe during summer months can get much hotter and drier than many other riding locations around the Bay Area. When you also consider its remoteness, the importance of coming prepared with extra reserves of water goes without saying, and planning your riding range carefully during the hotter months would be wise.
This particular route has you starting from the Hunting Hollow parking lot. The first thing you do is to cover the roughly 2 miles of (fairly flat) distance on pavement to the Coyote Creek Entrance, before starting the "real" ride. Actually there is parking available for a handful of cars right at the Coyote Creek Entrance, as well, so you might want to check there first and then drive back to Hunting Hollow to park there only if you don't find anything available.
The "real" ride consists of a mostly singletrack climb and descent. It's a short one. The climbing portion traverses mainly Anza and Jackson trails via many switchbacks. The climb is a serious one. It brings you to the brief ridgetop segment of the ride where you ride a few short segments of fire roads and where vista points in various directions are available along the way. Then the short, extra steep, but fun descent on Dexter Trail hands you off to Grizzly Gulch Trail. This trail initially continues flatly on average with minor ups and downs for maybe a mile before it undergoes a jekyll-to-hyde transformation once again and starts a steep dive back toward the creek bed. The first half of this one-mile descent is its steeper part, at an average grade of at least -18%. There are a couple of stretches along this descent that deserve some extra caution. When you encounter another couple of stream crossings, it's a sign that you're almost at the end of the ride. There is about a quarter mile of gentle uphill pedaling under tree cover past those crossing, after which you quickly connect back to where you had begun the loop portion of the ride and you're only left with the paved descent on Gilroy Hot Springs Road.
© Ergin Guney
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