On a steep side trail, not far from the HQ of Henry W. Coe State park, is a quiet meadow, by a creek. A few small remnants remain of what was once a hotel and resort. “Madrone Soda Springs” is not as widely known as Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, but shares a similar background, when tourists and vacationers didn’t travel far from home!
Believe it or not, there is still valuable information that is not yet on the Internet! The best source of information I’ve found is called: “The Mineral Springs of Santa Clara County”, by Ian L. Sanders. ($19.95, plus shipping, on Amazon, as I write this http://a.co/7Jklu8J ) I’ll throw you a few teasers from the book, and if you want to know more, you’ll have to buy a copy!
The waters here were known to the early Ohlone natives, with a Mexican settler first claiming them in 1866. Cabins and a pavilion were built around 1880, and a Post Office existed from 1883 to 1895! From those bustling years, the property declined in the early 20th century, and was eventually added to the Coe family’s ranch in 1938. (Now “go buy the book”, which includes 8 pages of text and photos!)
Start your visit at the Henry W. Coe Visitor’s Center. The stuffed Mountain Lion watches over the cash register. $8.00 for parking, or else…(or else you can ride your bike here, or show your Annual Pass!)
If you don’t already have an official map, you’ll probably do fine without one for this short trip. Follow the signs, about 3 miles, to Manzanita Point, and turn right.
Down you go…about 900 feet, from Manzanita Point, to the creek below.
The creek is often dry in the summer, but in the record rainfall year of 2017, it’s likely to keep going well into the summer.
Hang a left when you get to the creek. (There’s really no other way to go!). Soon, on your right, you’ll see the “Madrone” sign, with an old stairway behind it
…and a basin, of some sort, in front of the sign, marked “1941”. One of Coe’s former Park Rangers tells me that this basin used to be where visitors could partake of the bubbly waters. It was from a shallow spring, below this basin near the creek. During my visit in March 2017, following a record winter for precipitation, I had hoped to find bubbly mineral water once again coming from the ground, but I failed!
That’s about all there is to see here, except a small cobblestone “cooler room” a few steps further down the trail on your left, plus a collapsed cabin about 1/2 mile downstream.
You may also wish to explore the meadow, which had two tents and four first-time visitors to Coe when I was there.
In this same general vicinity, there is a VERY overgrown trail into the “Lakeview Zone” portion of the park. It has great views of the valley, towards Morgan Hill. Navigation is very tricky and involves large quantities of poison oak, ticks and thorns. Unfortunately, the area became off limits after my two visits.
After poking around, and contemplating the area’s history, you can proceed downstream to China Hole, or head back the way you came.
A newly falllen tree, below, after the particularly harsh winter we just had.
This tree, below, made me realize that there hasn’t been any fires close to HQ in a very long time.
Plan your visit! The park HQ is on a twisty mountain road, east of Morgan Hill, CA. The website is http://www.CoePark.net
At a different entrance to the park is the better known “Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs”. The Ian Sanders book, mentioned above, includes about 35 pages on Gilroy Hot Springs. He also has another book entirely dedicated to GYHS. GYHS has many structures still standing, and is well known for providing a temporary place to stay for Japanese-Americans after their release from internment in 1945. The area is closed, except for special events. They have a supporting organization, which (I think still) gives guided tours, though their website needs updating! http://www.gilroyyamatohotsprings.org/ It’s listed on the “National Register of Historic Places”. You can find quite a bit of information about it, as well as photos, on the internet, including Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilroy_Yamato_Hot_Springs