Coyote Creek east of Morgan Hill


Stretch: Henry Coe Park to Coyote Reservoir
Difficulty: Class III with possible logjam portages
Distance: 12 miles (after 4 mile hike downhill), 1 day
Flows: kayaks 200 - 600 cfs, IK minimum 150
Gauge: several miles downstream of Gilroy Hot Springs (USGS site)
Gradient: 52 fpm average
Put-in: Poverty Flat near middle fork confluence, 1380'
Take-out: somewhere above Coyote Reservoir, 760'
Shuttle: 30 miles (1 hour) one-way
Maps: Henry Coe State Park, AAA Monterey Bay Region
Season: winter, from recent rain
Agency: state, private
Notes: © 1998, 2010 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

Henry Coe park is popular with hikers and backpackers. This section of Coyote Creek traverses an area with few trails and no roads. Before colonization, Poverty Flat (downstream of put-in) was one of the largest settlements in the bay area, providing native Americans with year-round food and water.

This scenic creek can be run after a large rainstorm. The put-in requires a 4 mile carry from Park headquarters downhill to the water, just past the confluence of the little fork and middle fork. Once on the creek, be on guard for logjams, the principal hazard. About six miles into the trip you pass Gilroy Hot Springs on the right, a private spa, currently Japanese-owned. The remainder of the run follows a road to Coyote reservoir.

Scott Cochran highly recommends this run, which he labels very constant class II+ with a couple of class III rapids, and probably a solid III at higher flows. He ran it with about 100 cfs at the take out and 30 cfs (!) at the put in. This was barely runnable, and he thinks 150 cfs at the take-out is the functional minimum, with optimum somewhere between 200 - 300 cfs. Because there is no gauge, check the Arroyo Hondo (AHD) flow. Scott and a buddy ran it when AHD was at 5.8 feet, so he suspects 6.5 feet would equate to Coyote's functional minimum.

Scott reports that the scenery is very pretty, but the shuttle is long. The hike down is pleasant, but because of the 1000' elevation loss and steepness near the end, portage wheels might be a good idea. I actually hiked down once without a boat and took these pictures.

Coyote Creek Henry Coe CA Coyote Creek Henry Coe CA
Hiking view of upper Coyote Creek Backpackers at ford to Poverty Flat
Put in as soon as you can reach the water, or downstream at the normal trail ford that crosses to Poverty Flat.
East Fork Coyote Creek enters on the left. Just upstream is The Narrows, where the east fork passes between cliffs, worth a look if you have time.
Soda Springs Creek enters on the right.
Rough Gulch and creek enters on the right.
Unnamed creek enters on the left, where a trail from upstream joins the creek and continues to the roadhead downstream.
Gilroy Hot Springs on the right, entry by appointment only.
Bridge across creek, first possible take-out, but parking is tight.
Hunting Hollow creek enters on the left. More parking nearby. Brush and barbed-wire in the channel become more problematic.
Coyote Reservoir, final take-out, although others are possible.

Shuttle Directions

To reach take-out, take highway 152 east from highway 101 near Gilroy. After bending right onto Pacheco Pass Road, turn left on Cañada Road. Continue over a hill and then drive north thru a long valley. After 3 miles, turn right on Gilroy Hot Springs Road, and proceed to a bridge and locked gate with small parking area.

To reach put-in from there, return to highway 101. Drive north to the East Dunne exit and head east, climbing into suburban hills for about three miles. At the top of the first ridge, bear right at a Y in the road, where a sign says “Henry Coe State Park 10 miles.” The road crosses a bridge and follows Anderson Reservoir for a bit. Then it climbs and becomes a narrow winding mountain road. From the parking area at the Henry Coe visitor's center, follow hiking maps to Poverty Flat. The old road goes gently, then suddenly, downhill.


 Creeks Navigation

 Recommended Runs
 Map of Rivers
 Alphabetic Index
 Alphabetic Table
 Text Search

 Sponsored Links