Middle Ridge
Peak 1,657ft

Sat, Dec 30, 2017

With: Jim Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

Staying at my home the past few days, brother Jim had been working remotely since our last outing to the Napa region and was looking to do more hiking after catching up with his work. So we set off for Morgan Hill and Henry Coe State Park in the Diablo Range east of the town.

Peak 1,657ft

Our first stop wasn't exactly legal. The Jackson Ranch above Anderson Lake was purchased by Santa Clara County in 2006 but it has never been opened to the public. It's not clear if Peak 1,657ft, half a mile north of the Jackson Ranch buildings, is part of this property. A gate at paved Dunne Ave has a dozen locks suggesting the access road is used by other property owners as well. We parked at a turnout across the road, slipped through the gate, and walked the road for about half a mile. There is some significant erosion damage to the road where it crosses a creek, but it looks like the road still sees good usage. We left the road to climb up grass slopes, careful to avoid areas of heavier brush that could be found left and right of the route we followed. This worked nicely without the need for any bushwhacking, but we found the slopes extremely steep in places right where the footing was poorest. I had no trouble on the way up while Jim slipped and struggled some, but then got my comeuppance on the way down when I lost my footing several times and slid down out of control, scraping my arms and hands on the rough surface. It took us a little over half an hour to reach the summit after a mile's effort. We found an old picnic bench here that we used to take in the views. A heavy haze hung over the valley to the west and high clouds washed out much of the view, but it was a nice location to take a break. Our return was much the same way.

Middle Ridge

After returning to the car, we drove the remaining six miles up to the Henry Coe Headquarters for our second hike. Starting from there, we hiked 2.5mi up and over Pine Ridge to Frog Lake and then up to the Middle Ridge HP, taking about an hour. There wasn't much to the highpoint, just a semi-open, rounded grass slope with nowhere comfortable to sit for a spell. We found another picnic bench just east of the trail junction with Hobbs Rd with a view overlooking Blue Ridge to the east. Jim was happy to hear that I had no plans to hike the 1,300ft down to the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek and then up to the higher Blue Ridge. We spent about five minutes taking a break here before starting back. We used alternates roads and trails on the way back, making a figure-eight of it. It was a longer route on the return, 4mi vs. 2.5mi, but it had little of the ups and down we had taken on the way out over Pine Ridge. The Frog Lake Trail traverses the east side of Pine Ridge, a very pleasant single-track that winds through oak and manzanita forest (some rather impressive specimens of the latter) before turning west to return us to Coe HQ. Near the end of the hike we spied a bobcat on the trail ahead of us. It spied us as well, but kept on the trail for more than a hundred yards while we followed behind. Eventually it ducked uphill into the bushes and vanished. We finished up not long before sunset, making for a fine afternoon...

Andrew Kirmse comments on 01/03/18:
The entire route up Peak 1657 appears to be completely within Anderson Lake Park. Check the California Protected Area Database (soon to be available in the Peakbagger app as a layer), where it is marked as open access.
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