Hiking is my favorite form of exercise. I can't think of anything better than enjoying beautiful nature, breathing fresh air, and the exhausted feeling of accomplishment when I finish. I don't hike nearly enough anymore. The rain this season put a hamper on a number of weekend days that I could have been hiking. Then there's my general laziness since I got a desk job. The only way to remedy that is to get out and do it more.
Henry Coe State Park is a fantastic place to go hiking on a cloudy, rainy day. While you do want to be careful of washed out trails and mud, the rain cools you down on the steep uphill trails throughout the park. With little cover aside from oak and manzanita, this is the type of hike that you don't want to do on a clear, sunny day.
On our last trip to Henry Coe, also on a rainy day, we were unable to finish the Frog Lake hike because the trail was completely washed out at the junction with Coyote Creek. This time around we decided to try the hike again and hope the trail was in better condition despite recent rains.
There are several ways to get to Frog Lake. It's a popular trail for backpackers as there's a campsite above Frog Lake. If you want a great leg and cardio workout, hike straight up the hill on Hobbs Road. The reward: great views of the surrounding Diablo and Gavilan ranges.
Another way to go, and this is the way that we came back, is the Monument Trail. The uphill is more gradual and it's a single track as opposed to a fire road like Hobbs Road. They meet at the top of the hill and continue down Hobbs Road to the junction with Coyote Creek.
Coyote Creek was fairly full but not impassable this year. We crossed over on a couple rocks and took the trail to the right of the junction to Frog Lake. Be careful walking through this area and stay on the trail; it's completely surrounded by poison oak. I made the excellent decision to wear shorts on this day, so I was extra careful going through here. Recent rains and hikers churned up the path into a slippery mess of mud. A slippery path through poison oak up to my waist sounds like an adventure.
Frog Lake is a small pond that functions as a swimming hole for mountain bikers in the hot summer months. The serene flat surface surrounded by cattails and reeds makes for a peaceful resting stop or turn around point. When we got close to the surface, we were able to see fish and hundreds of tadpoles.
The best way to get back from Frog Lake to park headquarters is Flat Frog Trail. But remember what I said about wearing shorts that day and the poison oak being waist high? Well, Flat Frog Trail had even worse poison oak. I didn't feel like dealing with more poison oak (the more you're exposed the more likely you are to have a reaction), so we hiked back up Hobbs Road to the Monument Trail. If you're smart and wear pants or don't care about poison oak, then take Flat Frog Trail. You'll get to see more of the park this way and can avoid the steep hike back up Hobbs Road.
The Monument Trail is a fairly flat winding single track through manzanita scrub and grassy hillsides. I would recommend taking this trail on your way to Frog Lake, especially if you're hiking with children or a large amount of gear for backpacking. Unless you're like the guy pushing a baby in a stroller up Hobbs Road. That guy was impressive.
To get to this section of Henry W. Coe State Park, take the 101 south freeway from San Jose. Exit at East Dunne in Morgan Hill and then turn left at the light. Follow this road into the hills and drive past the reservoir. Parts of the road are washed out past here but it's still very safe to drive. Park in the lot at the headquarters and pay your ten dollars. Do not be that person in the SUV who parks on a blind curve outside the park just to avoid paying for a state park.