The trail is fairly steep in sections and can be slippery due to the moisture in the air, especially in the fall and winter. It is also popular with mountain bikers and people walking their dogs, so be on the lookout for others using the trail.
The Coal Road Trail allows for a lollipop run when combined with the Crazy Pete's Road Trail
and an alternate access route to the Alpine Road Trail
. This trail can be taken on its own or in reverse, but the climb back up the Crazy Pete's Road Trail
is steeper than the climb up this trail. To access this trail, park along Skyline Boulevard and run down the Crazy Pete's Road Trail
for .4 of a mile for the first cutoff, or continue to run along the trail until .9 miles, where the Coal Road Trail breaks off to the right at a fork in the trail.
The Coal Road Trail dips slightly as it leaves the Crazy Pete's Road Trail
before it starts climbing uphill toward the entrance gate. The trail is wide, composed of mainly dirt, leaves, and grass. It climbs steadily uphill through an oak and madrone forest, which provides ample amounts of shade, even in the middle of the day. Since the trail is used by hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, you need to pay attention as you run for others who might be using the trail.
The trail swings back to the right around the .3 mile marker, following the preserve's boundary as it begins to level off. On the left hand side of the trail is private property while on the right hand side, views of the South San Francisco Bay are obscured by trees and brush. Every once in a while, you'll get a glimpse of the bay as you run along, but most of the views are obscured. After .6 miles, the trail begins to climb again as it makes its way back to the Crazy Pete's Road Trail
and the entrance to Coal Creek Open Space Preserve. From here, you can follow the road to the left back to your car. If you accessed this trail from the Alpine Road Trail
, you can take a right and follow Crazy Pete's Road Trail
back down to where the Coal Road Trail breaks off.
When combined with Crazy Pete's Road Trail
, this offers a great lollipop run. It's also great when you need to run in the middle of the day as the forest provides shade and relief from the heat.
There are a lot of oak trees along the trail, and mushrooms are seen in the fall and winter as their is enough moisture to support them on the mountain tops. Various species of birds can be found in the woods, as well as deer, squirrels, and other small mammals. Mountain lions have been seen in the area, and signs provide guidance on what to do if you encounter one during your run. Wildflowers can be seen along the trail in the spring or early summer.