The hill to Henry Coe

I have just returned from one of my favorite training runs. Seeing that I never encounter other runners, I want to spread the word.

There is a wonderful hill run that takes you from Lake Anderson’s Woodchoppers Picnic Area all the way to Henry Coe State Park. It is 7.5 miles up and 7.5 miles down. I like it because the climb is 2000 feet (by my Garmin), which is very reasonable over 7.5 miles. It is hard enough that you need to train at it but not so hard that you ever feel defeated.

The first mile is pretty level, followed by a four mile climb that takes you up about 1200 feet. The next two and a half miles gradually climb, with a few short flat stretches that provide a nice break. Don’t stop at the “Henry Coe” sign. You really have another half mile or so until you reach the actual park. If you are so inclined, you can keep on going as there are a number of trails in Henry Coe.

The entire run is paved along East Dunne and winds you around Lake Anderson and up through the hills. You will surely meet some cyclists along the way as well as many cows. In general, the cars are few and far between, but stay alert as some speed around the curves.

I find the up-then-down combo (vs. shorter up down, up down, up down) really valuable. Not only do I get solid incline training, I also use it to practice speed and control during long descents. I consistently underestimate how worn out I will get during the second half. Mentally I think it will be a cake walk, but it never is.

If you take 101 to Morgan Hill, exit East Dunne. Go East towards the hills. About two miles up the hill there is a fork in the road. Go to the right and follow the sign to Henry Coe. About a mile from there is Woodchoppers Picnic Area. There is always plenty of parking and a few restrooms.


Photo Source: Gary Keller,


2 Comments Add yours

  1. I have continued to take your advice for running routes in Morgan Hill. Again your suggestions are spot on and awesome! Yesterday I took a bit of a rest and did a short 5 mile run on the Coyote Creek Trail. After that, I decide to scope the run from Lake Anderson up to the Henry Coe Visitor Center. It’s a stunning road from start to finish! I wasn’t sure if I could manage the distance plus the elevation gain; both are elements I really like; however, I don’t think I’ve run more that 10 miles at a time since before my son was born (and he’s 10 now!).

    I realized that I know myself well enough to be well tuned into my limits and when things are not going well. So, since it’s an out and back route, I decided I’d go as far as I could. After all, I could always turn around at any point if necessary.

    Well, running that road is a lot less harrowing than driving it! I ended up making it all the way to the Visitor Center! As you said, there’s nothing ridiculously steep or sustained. The beauty of the land and sky was a big motivator as well. Such a beautiful place!

    I love running uphill, so my biggest concern once I made the Center was the descent and all that downhill pounding (I’m borderline big for a distance runner). But I was careful and was careful to use a gait that minimized impact. And by the time I’d made it back to the lake, I still felt great!

    Thanks again for the great suggestions! I am very grateful.

  2. julianneruns says:

    Great news, Eric! Glad it was helpful and sounds like you did great!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s