Henry W. Coe State Park, Middle Ridge Trail Loop

"May these quiet hills bring peace to the souls of those who are seeking" - Henry Willard Coe

Last Saturday, we decided to do a "long hike" with our toddlers at Henry W. Coe State Park.  We were all itching to be outside after being confined to the house all week from the rain and my awful allergies.  We finally arrived to Henry Coe - Coe Ranch Entrance about 11:30 a.m.  The drive to the park was beautiful and it amazed me how close and quickly it became "not a suburb" of Morgan Hill on East Dunne Avenue.

We parked in overflow parking lot and hiked in 1/2 a mile the visitors center.  My daughter had not slept well (the story of her life) the night before so she was extra cranky so she spent hiking most of the day with +Jesse Avery and I with my son, David.

We arrived at the Visitor's Centers and saw lots of taxidermy animals, like the mountain lion, owls and other various birds.  The Park Ranger was very helpful and we decided to hike the Middle Ridge Trail loop between a 6.5-7.5 mile hike.  She also gave our kids some stickers, so they were really happy.  We gave the kids some chocolate and started up Manzanita Road toward Frog Lake.  The views were amazing on this part of the trail, the view is pictured above.

We finally have figured a method to hike with our toddlers, my husband takes Sophia on his shoulders and hikes as far as he can until Sophia wants to "hike" (aka, play in the dirt).  David and I eventually catch up to them and we have a snack, water break.  I only carry Sophia in the carrier when she's ready for her nap or if shes really cranky or else she's "hiking" on dad's shoulders.

Up, up up Manzanita Trail
David and I saw lots of California Poppies, which he wanted to pick to give to me but I told him those flowers were for looking only.  On the way up David and I saw a Stellar Jay, which looked like a Blue Jay so that's what I called it at the time.  We met up at the trail marker, had snacks, water and talked a little bit with some older hikers from the Felton and Connecticut, who were also taking a break.

We hiked to Coe Monument which was only 10 minute walk from our previous break.  It was rather windy and chilly at the top (approx. 3,000 feet).  The quote at the beginning of this post was the written on the monument, behind Sophia in the picture above.  The hills are very peaceful at Henry Coe SP, I felt like I was at Sequoia National Park.  Most of my childhood camping outdoor memories are at Sequoia National Park with my parents and my older brother.  I remember the smell of pines and how the trees sounded when the wind would pick up.  Hiking at Henry Coe SP had the same feeling the smell of the pine trees and the sound of the trees swaying in the wind.  I loved it.

All along the trails there were amazing Manzanita trees, very tall, the tallest I've ever seen in my life.  Jesse took off hiking with Sophia and I hiked with David for a long time.  I love having alone time with each of my kids and hiking provides this opportunity.  Jesse had bonding time with his baby girl and I had bonding time with my baby boy, who's not a baby anymore.  We hiked on Hobb's Road which was a dirt fire road, mostly downhill.  We saw some Indian Warrior plants, met some older hikers, found some deer tracks, and heard some frogs as we got near Little Fork Coyote Creek where Jesse and Sophia were waiting for us.

Lunch time at Little Fork Coyote Creek, had musical guests! The frogs were quiet for most of the time while we had our lunch but all of a sudden the frogs croaked very loudly, so loud that David and Sophia were scared for a few minutes.  We didn't see any animals until the end of our hike but we definitely heard and saw animal signs!  Sophia almost tumbled into the creek but my mommy lightening speed instincts kicked in and caught her before she fell in.  The creek was almost dry but she would have definitely gotten soaked.

After lunch, we left Hobbs Road and started on Frog Lake Trail to Frog Lake.  It was another 10 minute hike from the creek but we have to stop at every water source we find so the kids can throw pebbles in the water.

I was glad that Frog Lake was an actual lake because some website sources said that later on in the year it's more of an algae puddle.  Here's another picture of Frog Lake on my Google+ account.  I believe there was a campsite on the other side of the lake, but I might be mistaken.  The kids threw rocks in the lake and tried to fall in the lake as well, while I took pictures and had more snacks.  After we left Frog Lake, Frog Lake trail was uphill with some switch backs until we reached Middle Ridge Trail.

More evidences of animals, Acorn Woodpeckers in this case, here's a picture of one when we visited Pinnacles National Park in February this year.

Middle Ridge Trail, the views from here were amazing.  The camera can never truly capture what the eyes can see but it was really beautiful out there.  Sophia had fallen asleep in my front carrier, when we were climbing up Frog Lake Trail and slept most of the way on Middle Ridge Trail.  I had one moment when I was hiking alone with Sophia that was my surroundings came to life.  The winds were blowing and the pines trees were swaying and a dead fallen trees leaves rustled in the wind and I felt like the Earth was singing praises to The Creator and it reminded me of the following Bible verses, Psalm 96:11-13.

     Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
     Let the fields be jubliant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
     Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.
     He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

The Park Ranger describe Middle Ridge Trail as rolling hills which was very true except the part of the trail right after the picture above was taken.  David was a little tired when I took this picture, granted Jesse carried David on his shoulders up this steep part of the trail, which was quite a workout.  We stopped for a break after that uphill climb especially with each of us carrying toddlers.  I was huffing and puffing to get up the hill!

The steep climb was worth it, because at the top of the ridge was full of wildflowers!  There were shooting stars and an abundant of Indian Warriors along the trail, it was really beautiful.  As you can see my son rolling on the floor he needed a break so we stopped for "second lunch" at what looked like Indian Warrior heaven!

Everywhere we turned there were other wildflowers but primarily Indian Warriors.  It was very memorable, surrounded by previously burnt trees trying to come back to life and the forest floor covered in Indian Warriors.  Absolutely my FAVORITE part of the hike.  I took many pictures of different wildflowers but my camera isn't a really good and most of my pictures came out blurry. I believe these white flowers are called California Milkmaids.

After we left the Indian Warrior "field", we figured we had two hours left of sunlight and still had 2-3 miles left.  The trail was still going down hill and my son was tripping and rolling down the trail for fun, but he usually starts acting like that when he's very tired.  We hike at an average 1.5 mph with kids, it seems so slow but that how it is with toddlers.  We finally reached the end of Middle Ridge Trail and had 2.5 miles left on Fish Trail-Corral Trail to reach Coe Headquarters.

Sophia wanted to hike and it was finally safe enough for her to hike on level ground so she actually hiked for a few hundred feet before it the trail started descending.  Sophia bent down to pick up something and then flipped over and took a tumble down the "hill", it took a split second for me to realize she wasn't going to roll down the hill so we just laughed it off.

Jesse carried Sophia and I hiked with David most of the way on Fish Trail before we reached Little Fork Coyote Creek again.  At some point, David was completely done hiking and no amount of chocolate would keep him hiking!  Jesse loaded David up on his shoulders and I flipped my ERGO carrier around so Sophia can ride on my back and I put my backpack on my front-side.

We had another uphill 1.5 mile hike left with toddlers to carry.  I was really getting a work out, really tired and starting to get sloppy with my footwork.  I almost fell down at least five occasions!

With about 0.5 miles left to reach the Visitor's Center, we all see two deer's jump across in some trees near us.  I'm just glad my son and daughter saw some wildlife! I love seeing their reactions when they see "wild" animals when we are hiking.  We finally made it back the visitors center and the kids where beat but it was still another 0.5 miles to the car.  Jesse left us at some picnic tables with snacks and went to retrieve our car.

I thought our adventure would end there but it didn't....midway down the East Dunne Road, Jesse realized he  had a tick in his armpit, so he rips it out and throws it out the window.  I checked the kids but them seem clear and I checked myself and I seem clear as well.  We stopped at Jack In The Box to have some dinner and I'm paranoid that I have a tick.  As we finished up eating, I'm still paranoid about every itch I feel and then I feel an itch on my thigh/butt cheek so I decided to change my clothes.  Low and behold I found a tick on my butt cheek, so I yelled for Jesse and he ripped it out and threw it in the toilet.  That was my first tick ever and I hope I never get one again.


Total Miles Hiked: 7.5 Miles in 6 hours 56 minutes

Manzanita Trail - Hobb's Road - Frog Lake Trail - Middle Ridge Trail - Frog Lake Trail - Corral Trail

Overall this was a great hike, maybe not very toddler friendly and for parents not used to hiking with their small children, but for parents who hike with their kids often this was a great hike. This was our LONGEST hike to date with our toddlers and we had a blast!

Happy Hiking!