Michael and I took advantage of the unusually cool weather to do a two night backpacking trip into Henry W. Coe State Park. Arnold Horse Camp was our base camp. The water there was intermittently dripping, but enough to keep the trough mostly full. We did about 30 miles and 6000 feet, in total, including a visit to Bear Mountain Peak, and the obscure Little Long Canyon. Perfect weather!
The end! (Exact route and tracks available on Strava.com. July 1-3, 2022.)
So, yeah, I’ve had a journey up Palo Colorado Road, to Pico Blanco Scout Camp, on my radar for awhile. It’s been closed for about 5 years, due to fire damage, and a washed-out road. It’s now FOR SALE!
I guess I better get going, and see it before it changes, or becomes off-limits!
There’s a gate, 4 miles from Highway 1. From there it’s about 3.5 miles to Bottcher’s Gap and 4 miles further to the Scout Camp…and about 1300 feet of climbing in each direction!
The camp is in great condition, from what I can see. We were told there was an on-site caretaker, but we saw no signs of anyone.
The caretaker at Bottcher’s Gap told us that there’s been quite a bit of vehicle traffic to the camp. He believes the property showing is complete, and the Scout Council is reviewing offers. It will be interesting to see…
We also had an interesting discussion about the endangered Dudley’s Lousewort and the Santa Lucia Fir. I’ve seen Dudley’s at Portola Redwoids State Park, but didn’t spot any here. The beautiful, and very rare, Santa Lucia Fir was visible on the steep hillsides, as well as one in the Bottcher’s Gap parking lot
During my recent visit to Clear Creek, I made a quick side trip, just before sunset, to visit Dick Wright. He was a local hermit, who lived in a crude cabin here. When he didn’t show-up in town for awhile, a local rancher went to check on him. Buried him near the cabin!
As of last year, I had visited three cabins in Henry Coe State Park that were not on the map. Seeing that two of them burned last year, I thought I might visit the last one, once again, before it’s too late! This third one is even less accessible and surrounded by more trees and brush. It’s doomed the next time there’s a fire near Grizzly Gulch and Grizzly Falls. If the State thinks it’s worth protecting from the public, why isn’t it worth protecting from fire?
After visiting the cabin, I proceeded on to Willson Camp for the night. It’s a great spot, with views, a shady table, water, toilet, and an AT&T signal
My route back to Hunting Hollow was via Kickham Ranch. It’s not openly encouraged to enter/exit the park this way, but there are no signs forbidding it. You’ll have to climb one gate, which forbids “Unauthorized Vehicles” on one side of the gate.
So, yeah, until there is an effort to protect the remaining unmarked cabin from fire, it seems ridiculous to hide it from the public. (I won’t be publishing any more location details, and please don’t add it in the comments. You can find the cabin with some research, including old PRA documents.)
I spent 30 hours in Henry W. Coe State Park, including an overnight at Pacheco Camp, and visiting an unmarked historic cabin that burned.
I saw one backpacker, and a handful of cyclists. I also passed across the dam at Coit Lake, after dark, and chatted with 2 or 3 backpackers who were set up there. The burn areas are very spotty. Some areas are completely scorched, and some are a patchwork of lightly burned, and unburned. Most areas are already sprouting green shoots!
The cabin really should have had some proactive clearing of brush and flammables, way before the fire. (If it’s worth protecting from the public, it should be worth protecting from fire.) There is another old cabin in Coe that is similarly a “sitting duck” for the next big fire. Thankfully Pacheco Camp was saved, partly due to flammables clearing and vehicle access.
Last wednesday I did an overnight at Henry Coe State Park. I wanted to replace a few Geocaches and give my new 0F degree sleeping bag another test. I also thought the park would not be fully open for months. It opened a few days later!
That’s it! Park is fully opened. Enjoy it before it gets hot! (Parking will be an issue on weekends.)