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.
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.
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
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.