Trip Overviews‎ > ‎

Henry Coe: Mississippi Lake Loop

24.67 miles
Henry Coe State Park
Dave Sholer, Jared Atkins

Day 1: 12.93 miles; +2,368', -2,800'
We hiked from Henry Coe Headquarters, down the steeply-graded Poverty Flat Road, following it back over the ridge and down to Coyote Creek. From this point forward, although not in the Orestimba Wilderness, the amount of hikers diminishes to close to none. The semi-maintained trail follows the creek mostly north before branching off east onto Bear Mountain Rd. Take note that this is the last water source for quite some time. I can't remember if we failed to fill up here, or if we did, but we definitely ran out of water on the way up Bear Mountain (mind you were were probably only carrying 2 qts, each). It was a hot day, without any cloud protection. There are few trees to the sides of this road, so don't plan on having shade cover.  Before reaching the top of the road, we abandoned the road, heading down an un-named trail that leads directly to Bear Spring.  The spring was about 3/4 mile down the ridge, fortunately providing a bit more of shade than the road above. The spring itself had some sort of small concrete reservoir around it and allowed us both to resupply with the much-needed water. This trip was our first taste of the extreme dry conditions of the eastern areas of Henry Coe. After having water, we continued on to Mississippi Lake, where we stayed the night at a campsite that included a picnic bench set near the lake's edge.
Day 2: 11.74 miles; +3,000', -2,522'
The next morning we started or hike back to headquarters. I think this was our first time heading over "Rollar Coaster Ridge"--since renamed Willow Ridge Rd. On the (formerly) appropriately-named ridge, there isn't a tree anywhere to speak of.  Like Bear Mountain, the only water sources are springs down in the canyon below, and aren't always reliable. Somewherein the middle of this ridge section, we came across two young hikers like ourselves. They, however, looked thoroughly exhausted and dehyrdrated--not to mention ridiculously underprepared with their small, school backpacks contained a few rolled-up cloth items attached externally. They said they would be able to finish their stagger into Mississippi Lake, but wouldn't be able to get out without assistance. They requested for the ranger to pick them up the next morning at 10:00am. (Later, back at HQ, we had a good laugh with the ranger as he scoffed at their specific pick-up request. He implied he'd pick them up whenever he got around to it the next day.) We finished the day by hiking through the Narrows and up via Madrone Soda Springs Trail, back to HQ.