This was the second time I’d been to the southernmost portion of Coyote Creek Parkway. The first time was a training walk for my first marathon, and this was also a training walk for an upcoming marathon. Even though the trailhead I used is a 30-mile drive from home, I like coming to this trail for extra-long training walks, since the trail passes along a creek (the Coyote Creek) in a pleasant, mostly riparian environment with pretty views of the East Bay hills and Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s also a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
Previously I had a little trouble finding the trailhead, so I thought I’d document here the location. The actual end of the trail, at mile marker 0, is on Morning Star Dr between Malaguerra Ave and Eagle View Dr in Morgan Hill, at the entrance to a ranger station parking area. I believe the ranger station belongs to Anderson Lake County Park rather than Coyote Creek Parkway. It is easily reached from the Cochrane Rd exit of US-101: take Cochrane east and watch for green Bike Trail signs, which take Peet over to Morning Star. When I tried to follow some published directions with an access route along Burnett Ave I ended up at a dead-end without any trail access or even parking.
Once you’re on the paved multi-use trail, it is straightforward to follow it all the way to, and even past, the mileaged north end, 15½ miles north of mile marker 0. The GPS track provides a sense of scale, as the US-101 – CA-85 interchange is 10 miles from mile marker 0 at the lower right corner. My plan was to go for 24 miles total, extending to 25 miles if all was going well. My GPS distance was slightly longer than the mile markers.
The trail is mostly flat, with a gradual 200-foot decline from south to north and a handful of under-crossings.
Relatively early on, I realized that I would have some nice views of the Santa Cruz Mountain skyline, including Loma Prieta and Mt Umunhum. In fact, they were close enough together that I could capture them in a single picture. Here they are, viewed across a small lake near the creek roughly at mile marker 3.
A short distance later, as I came around a curve in the trail, I noticed what appeared to be a lot of large rocks in a field. As I got closer, I realized that the “rocks” were actually goats, grazing and resting.
A couple of miles later, in a section of trail that was more forested, I encountered a couple of deer. This one checked me out as I walked past.
The views of Loma Prieta and Mt Umunhum were prevalent for the first 6 miles or so. Around that point Coyote Peak, in Santa Teresa County Park and a Ridge Trail segment endpoint, started to block my view of the Santa Cruz Mountain skyline.
There is one location, not far from mile marker 7, where the trail kind of dips down and crosses an area where the creek is quite wide and very slow-flowing. After rainy weather the trail is often underwater and therefore closed. At this time the trail was dry, but the water level was barely 6 inches below the pavement at the bottom of the dip. The nearby trees made a lovely reflection in the nearly-still water.
To the northeast is a long row of East Bay hills. When I looked up that way I hoped I was looking at the ridgeline of future segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
A short distance, perhaps 0.1 mile, south of Metcalf Rd there is an interesting stone marker set into the ground. In a way the marker is very innocuous; I’ve walked this section of trail several times and this was the first time I noticed the marker. It is known as the Tamienne Monument and is said to be at the geographical center of the Santa Clara Valley. It is engraved with “Santa Clara Valley” in both English and binary, though the English is a bit hard to see in my photo. This web page explains how the binary representation is derived. I think it’s rather clever.
Generally I don’t bother to carry a camera, or wish to stop to take pictures, when I’m on one of my long training walks. This time I made an exception, and the photo opportunities made a 6-hour walk a bit more interesting.