Henry Coe State Park: Dowdy Ranch, Pacheco Crossing, Bell Station

On the first day after Daylight Savings Time ended, I was on the road at 6:00AM towards Henry Coe State Park.


“Pavement Ends” means “Adventure Ahead”!


The sun, across Highway 152, peeking through the fog, just after sunrise

The lesser-known entrance from Bell Station, followed by 7 miles of gravel road, to the Dowdy Ranch Visitor’s Center, is open on summer weekends to vehicles. Off-season and weekdays, it’s open 24/7 for hikers and cyclists, and a few ranchers that own property up here.


The sun is low as I begin my journey up the gated road


48 degrees and foggy, but it clears and warms-up!


7 miles, plus 1000+ feet of climbing brings me to the Dowdy Ranch Visitor’s Center. Haven’t seen anyone yet except for one rancher who waved as he passed me in his truck


The seldom-used Visitor’s Center, built in 2006


..and a damaged sign, leaning against the fence. Notice the big old Widow Maker, hiding behind!


…and the soon-to-be-famous “Purple Panther”

After looking around Dowdy Ranch a bit, I headed downhill, to the north, to Pacheco Creek Crossing. There was a moderate rainfall about 3 days prior. There were some signs that water flowed through the big undercrossing pipe, but definitely not enough to create any real flow…



Probably some dribbling during the rain, but the pool below was still quite low and way below “flowing”


The creekbed to the west, towards the falls, was completely dry, The leaves are turning!


Almost empty and ~8 feet below “full and flowing”

Lower now than back in January!


In April the “Hole in the Rock” waterfall was full and barely flowing (when it should have been gushing)  https://alpharoaming.com/2014/04/20/dowdy-dormida/


Above the falls: a few scattered small pools on rock surfaces

After inspecting the Pacheco Creek Crossing area, I slogged back up to Dowdy Ranch. I again passed Tiedown Peak, which was taunting me from my previous “never going back there” experience.  https://alpharoaming.com/2012/09/26/rattlesnake-adrenaline-rush-tie-down-peak-at-henry-coe/


As I passed Dowdy Ranch, I noticed the gate was now open, so I went to investigate. I happened to be there at the right time to have a short conversation with Ranger Cameron Bowers and 2 other cyclists. After that, it was time to head back to Bell Station.


15 mph on a downhill in the middle of nowhere?!? “Officer, my bicycle can’t go that slow!”

A great “zoom-zoom” downhill 7 miles back to the car (with 2 small climbs). Try it sometime! http://www.coepark.net

The 19 mile and 3200 vertical feet track: http://www.strava.com/activities/214835381


About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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