Wasno Ridge P500
Kelly Peak P300

Wed, Jan 29, 2014
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I had been out to Henry Coe State Park earlier in the month with friends and decided to come back for a second visit, this time to tag a few summits just north of that previous visit. The day was mostly overcast, but unlike the fog and low clouds encountered in Santa Clara Valley, the Diablo Range had excellent visibility and even some blue sky at times. The temperatures were cool with a light breeze, excellent for hiking. I drove out to the end of the road along Coyote Creek in the Hunting Hollow section of the park. The road is gated where a bridge goes over Coyote Creek. Another mile past this is the old, now closed Gilroy Hot Springs, a popular resort 100 years ago when such things were in fashion. Immediately adjacent to the bridge on the nearside is the Gilroy Hot Springs TH. There is parking here for a handful of cars, but signs earlier warned that parking is not allowed on the road. Not having used this trailhead before, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to have stopped at the Hunting Hollow entrance to pay a fee. A sign just past the TH indicates one is supposed to stop at the Visitor Center before entry, but that seemed ridiculous - the Visitor Center is at the end of Dunne Rd, more than an hour and a half of driving from here. I decided to ignore the payment of any fees for the moment and worked on my plausible excuse strategy should my car be cited before my return.

Starting off at 9:40a, I headed up Grizzly Gulch and Wasno Ridge, utilizing a series of park roads and trails for which there seems no shortage. Every mile or so it seems one comes across one trail junction or another, sometimes within a span of a few dozen yards. This isn't a complaint, btw, just that it's helpful to be familiar with the area or have a park map to help with the navigation at the various junctions. The Tower Trail took me up to Wasno Ridge very near its highpoint along Jackson Road at 2,676ft elevation. I followed this road east up and over the highpoint (no need to even leave the road), enjoying the views to the north across the whole of the park extending in that direction for almost ten miles. Continuing east along Wasno Ridge, I dropped to lower elevations and then took the Kelly Lake Trail down to Kelly Lake some 600ft lower, nestled in Kelly Cabin Canyon. Several coots were swimming in the lake as I circled around it and continued on the trail as it lead up the hillside on the other side. I've been told the fishing is pretty good here, but since I don't care much for the sport I couldn't say from personal experience. The highpoint of this next hill was unnamed Peak 2,625ft which I deemed fit to call Kelly Peak since so many other things around here were given that moniker. Its summit is crowned by a small shack and communications tower. Climbing it up to the roof of the building provides good views over the oaks to the surrounding countryside.

From Kelly Peak, I followed the Wagon Road south past several more junctions. Burra Burra Peak is prominent to the southeast. A backcountry restroom facility is found at the junction with Wasno Road and it was here that I turned west to continue along the eastern part of the ridge I had not traveled earlier. Before reaching the junction with the Kelly Lake Trail, I turned left and dropped to the south off the ridge on the Dexter Trail. This is a fairly steep descent down a subsidiary ridgeline with nary a switchback. About halfway down the hillside it meets up with the Grizzly Gulch Trail, the most interesting trail I traveled on the day. It traverses the southern slope of the canyon, passing by several rocky features found along the way. I eventually returned to the junction with the Tower Trail I had taken almost three hours earlier, closing the loop I had made. Another mile and a half brought me back to the TH at Coyote Creek, finishing up just after 1:30p. Just under four hours for just under 13 miles, not a bad day at all. Especially since I had no citation on my car upon my return...

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