Coe Park is the largest state park in northern California, with over 87,000 acres of wild open spaces. The terrain of the park is rugged, varied, and beautiful, with lofty ridges and steep canyons. Once the home of Ohlone Indians, the park is now home to a fascinating variety of plants and animals, including the elusive mountain lion. Within Coe Park are the headwaters of Coyote Creek, long stretches of the Pacheco and Orestimba creeks, and a 23,300-acre wilderness area. Most visitors at Coe Park hike or mountain bike on the numerous trails within the park. There are about 200 miles (320 km) of dirt roads and trails in the park. Henry Coe also provides exceptional backpacking opportunities. The park is so large and there are so many roads and trails, that one could plan a route covering ten miles per day, at a different campsite each night, and go two weeks without ever using the same trail or dirt road!
Henry W. Coe State Park offers phenomenal nighttime views since it is also further away from any city light pollution. It is the best out of all of the state parks to visit for stargazing not only because of the lack of light pollution, but also because it is open 24 hours a day all year round. Although it is somewhat out of the way, if you’re looking for the best star views with reliably clear skies, Henry Coe is the place to go.
Spring is the most popular time to visit the park, with its moderate weather, green hillsides dotted with colorful wildflowers, and flowing creeks. Summer is usually too hot and dry for most people to enjoy the area, though the nighttime weather is pleasant and the sky usually clear for star-gazing. Fall, from about mid-October through early November, is also a pleasant time to visit. There are also mild days between rainstorms in winter at Coe. Infrequent snowfall is light and usually persists for just a few days. On rare occasions, creeks can be frozen over in winter.
Chelynne Campion is a Production/ Sales Assistant for EarthSky. Her family just purchased a telescope, and she's now learning to be a stargazer!