Harvey Bear Ranch Hike
ElevationAscent: 1,518' 463 m
Descent: -1,517' -462 m
High: 1,478' 450 m
Low: 360' 110 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)
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“Run through scenic grass hills, woods, and meadows of the northern area of Coyote Lake - Harvey Bear Ranch County Park.”— Joan Pendleton
Willow Springs Trail and Coyote Ridge Trail (start - mile 2.5)
Willow Springs Trail climbs gradually and continually as it winds its way through grass hills studded with oak trees. The golden grasses of summer and autumn become bright green with patches of yellow mustard in the winter and spring when the rains come. Looking behind (south, southwest, west, and northwest), there are expansive views of rural southern Santa Clara Valley, and the forested, dark green Santa Cruz Mountains in the far distance. The trail heads towards Coyote Lake, which comes into view after 1.8 miles where Willow Springs Trail ends at Coyote Ridge Trail.
Go right onto Coyote Ridge Trail that goes through sunlit woods and meadows with views of Coyote Lake below. After .7 miles on Coyote Ridge Trail, Calaveras Trail is reached.
Calaveras Trail (mile 2.5 - 4.8)
Go left onto Calaveras Trail and cross a grassy meadow with Coyote Lake below. Passing Valley Oak Trail, continue on Calaveras Trail and enter thin, grassy oak woods as the trail travels north. Calaveras Trail runs along the gently sloping east side of Coyote Ridge, about halfway up the ridge. It is a fairly flat trail, going through alternating sections of thin woods and open meadows. Coyote Lake can be seen below through breaks in the trees. In the spring, there is an abundance of wildflowers of many varieties. Some meadows and hillsides are carpeted with them, especially on the northern half of the trail—it's quite a display!
Ed Willson Trail and Harvey Bear Trail (mile 4.8 - 8.5)
From Calaveras Trail, go left onto Harvey Bear Trail that runs through grassy hills with stands of oak trees. This area is pasture land, and many cows can be around and on the trail. Be nice to them.
After 0.2 miles on Harvey Bear Trail, go right onto Ed Willson Trail and climb steadily for 1.8 miles. Ed Willson Trail continues through grass hills that are used as pasture land for its first 0.3 miles. After that, the trail goes through alternating sections of woods and meadows with a variety of wildflowers in the spring. After 1.0 mile on Ed Willson Trail, there are two switchbacks. By the second switchback, with the altitude gained, the views are quite expansive. But the best is yet to come...
After the second switchback, the high point of Ed Willson Trail is reached. Looking south, there is a vast panorama of pretty much everything. Palassou Ridge that forms the east side of Coyote Lake/Creek Valley, Coyote Lake, Coyote Ridge with several of its high points (lower than the viewer) including Mummy Mountain, the rural southern Santa Clara Valley, Central California in the far distance, and Santa Cruz Mountains can all be seen. Wildflowers, and butterflies playing in them, add to the wonder. This is a great place to take a nice long break and have a snack.
From its high point, Ed Willson Trail descends continuously on the grass covered west side of Coyote Ridge for the next 1.1 miles. Enjoy wildflowers and views of southern Santa Clara Valley to the west along this descent. At the bottom of this section, the grasslands are used as pastures, so there are cows again.
Ed Willson Trail ends at Harvey Bear Trail. Turn right onto Harvey Bear Trail for .5 miles to get to Townsprings Trail.
Townsprings Trail (mile 8.5 - end)
Go left onto Townsprings Trail and continue descending the grassy western side of Coyote Ridge. A few seasonal streams are passed. In the spring, the yellow mustard grows head high here. After 1.4 miles on Townsprings Trail, Willow Springs Trail is reached. Go right onto Willow Springs Trail and descend gradually for 1.0 mile through the grass hills, passing seasonal streams, to return to the parking area.
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Need to Know, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: Santa Clara County Parks