This ride is a one-way ride out to Mississippi Lake and includes big climbs, a fun descent, creek crossings and some more big climbs. The views and the scenery are great. Make sure you have a lot of water and a filter.
This area gets very hot in the summer, so the best time of year is March/April when the wildflowers are blooming. This ride is best done as an overnight bike-packing ride, be sure to leave early if you're going out and back in one day.
Parking at Hunting Hollow requires a day-use fee so bring some cash to pay the iron ranger. There are multiple creek crossings on this ride so be prepared for your feet to get wet. Henry Coe is an extremely strenuous place to ride with spotty cell phone service on ridge tops so plan accordingly.
After riding out the back of the parking lot at Hunting Hollow, you'll cross a creek and then start looking for the Jim Donnelly Trail
on your left; prepare for a long climb up. Eventually, you'll get to Steer Ridge Road
that will take you on a climb past the Spike Jones Trail
Get ready for one more tough climb before it evens out a bit. I know you'll want to just get the climb over with, but make sure to stop and take in the views. On a clear day you can see clear back to Monterey Bay over the coastal range.
After Passing Wilson Peak Trail, look for the Serpentine Trail
on your left and prepare for some descending. Parts of this trail are pretty steep and there is often a pretty rutted section near the bottom. Grizzly Gulch Trail
is at the bottom and you'll take it to the right for some more climbing up to Wagon Road
. There is a toilet at the intersection of Grizzly Gulch Trail
and Wagon Road
After turning left on Wagon Road
, you'll stay on this for quite a while with some climbing and descending along the ridge line. Look for another toilet at the intersection of Wasno Road and Wagon Road
. Stay on Wagon Road
and eventually you'll find Live Oak Spring Trail
, which bypasses some additional climbing and dumps you out onto Coit Road
. Go right on Coit Road
and descend to Pacheco Creek Camp.
This is a great place to stop for lunch or a snack as there are picnic tables. The Pacheco Creek Trail
goes out the back of the camp and is not clearly signed but starts on the left side of Pacheco Creek and continues to criss-cross the creek all the way up to Willow Ridge Road
. The last mile or so before the road is a tough climb with little shade. Go right and follow the signs the rest of the way to Mississippi Lake.
When you hit the lake, go left to a shade shelter with a picnic table and toilet, or right to the dam and toilet. Both are nice places to camp for the night or take a break, soak your feet in the lake and have a bite before heading back. There are multiple ways to get back, but going back to Grizzly Gulch Trail
and descending it to Coit Road
is probably the most direct.