Last Saturday, I went to one of the state parks that’s been threatened (whether genuinely or in the latest round of stupid politician kabuki theatre) with closure, Henry Coe Park. I’d wanted to hike up to Frog Lake for years: it’s a popular fishing hole, according to lore, especially since it’s the lake closest to the park entrance.
At first, I thought about making it a “school” hike, but as soon as I announced it to my hiking buddies with young children, I rethought it. The lake itself is only a mile and half from the entrance, but the loop to go there and back is 4.5 miles, with some steep portions. Kelly’s a trooper, but she still needs to sit and rest on longer hikes, and this one (especially if we had the other parents’ chipper-but-also-limited-by-size) 3 year olds along, it could take all day, instead of just a morning. So instead, I did it myself.
Henry Coe is a huge park and if you get on the western side of it and look out, it’s all undeveloped land, from the state park over to a privately owned undeveloped site and into the county-owned Grant Park. In essence, you’re seeing local California how it would look if no one lived here.
The flowers and wildlife were remarkable. I saw butterflies, a wild turkey, and lots of native plants, and the trail (even on a Saturday) was surprisingly lightly travelled (even though the park’s parking lot was nearly full.) I ran across what looked like a group of college students, a backpacking couple, and a small family; otherwise, I think most of the visitors had already started on a weekend-long backpacking trip out to the park’s furthest edges.
Frog Lake was a surprise. It had no fishermen, even though I saw a small fish. The lake itself was tiny, but lake standards: if it was an acre, I’d be surprised. And yes, these are the actual colors of the nature around it:
While I was sitting by the lake, I heard a rustling behind me. I turned around, expecting to see a large urban rat, which is what city wildlife contains. I suppose what I saw was a rodent, too, but it was a prettier squirrel. The squirrel ran away when I tried to get a picture, but I lured her back out with a cracker.
I don’t think she was completely spoiled by humans stupidly feeding the wildlife, because she ran away after she ate the one cracker, instead of descending upon me like human-fed birds (and rats) do.
The longer trail back to the headquarters was narrower though high stalks of grass. One thing I will miss about state parks is their excellent signage, like this:
Most other types of parks have sign posts, if anything at all, and a compass and map are always a good idea to have along.
It was a pretty good hike, and I’m glad I opted against making it a kiddie hike.