The Coyote Point trail is also called Area 51 because it looks like the landscape is from another planet. Harsh looking rocks, barren ground, strange plant life and most of all this trail that seems to be hacked into the hillside like some sort of scar in the landscape. The trail is recovering from a fire a few years ago but is mostly green now.
There are actually two trails in this area, the lower trail which follows the shoreline is suitable for beginning to intermediate riders and the upper trail which climbs up and down the surrounding hillsides. Beginning riders will find this trail a bit intimidating because it is built into the side of a steep hill but other than exposure the trail is a good starter trail because it is just technical and hilly enough for beginning riders to learn on. If you stick to the lower rim trail it is pretty mellow, with mostly low grade climbs and with fairly easy to avoid obsticals.
The upper trail is advanced with steep climbs over loose rocks and switchbacks. Additionally, this trail has seen considerable amount of improvements and additional miles added over the last couple years.
This trail is popular with local riders during the winter time because the rocky trails drain very well and riding without getting muddy is possible even shortly after rain.
Lake Hogan is located about 30 minutes East of Stockton on Hiway 26 just outside of Valley Springs. Take Hiway 26 East from Stockton into Valley Springs and turn right onto Hiway 12 and follow Hiway 12 for about 1/4 mile to Lime Creek Road. Turn right onto Lime Creek and follow Lime Creek for approximately 1/4 mile to So. Petersburg. Turn right onto So. Petersburg and stay on it until you see the campground on the left.
Go past the Acorn West camp area and turn left into the next driveway, then left again and park in the small parking area (you should go right past the bathrooms and the camp host).
At the north end of the parking area there is a small gravel road. Take the gravel road to the other camp area and follow the trails and roads through the camp area along the shore of the lake. After you pass through the camp area there is a gate across the service road (usually closed). The entrance to the upper trail is on the left just past the gate. The entrance to the lower trail is a little further just past the crest of the hill.Show on Map.
Coyote Point Trail (Area 51) - This is a bit of a retro page a challenging ride from when I was new to mountain biking and Coyote Point was a charred wasteland. Kind of an amusing at this point in time.
If you opt to take the Lower trail your route is straightforward, always take the lower (lakeside) fork in the trail. Easy enough. There are plenty of challenges along the way so try and stay alert.
Pictured: Coyote Point trail was desolate after the fire. This picture is of the lower trail during the summertime about 2 years after everything burned to the ground. Fortunately the process of recovery is nearly complete now. Liz riding the lower trail
The upper trail is a bit trickier to follow, certainly taking the opposite advice, taking the uphill fork usually works, but there are options that make the upper trail more interesting.
Pictured: In the spring of 2005 much of the greenery had returned to Coyote Point trail and there was an awesome spring flowershow.
First off, make sure when you start the ride that you take the trail beside the gate (or the slightly harder to find trail behind the campsite). This will put you on a trail that climbs above the road then drops back down. When the trail drops down towards the road look for a fork on the left which will take you up and down the hillside then across a valley and a small creek crossing (dry in the summer).
Pictured:Trogs on the Ridge Trail.
What follows is a challenging climb over the ridge on a series of switchbacks. It took me a long time to be able to clean this climb without dabbing at least once or twice.
Once on top of the ridge you can take a left along the (hard to spot) ridge trail but you will be robbing yourself of a great downhill on the backside. Stay on the main trail for now and you will be treated to a formidable downhill. There are three switchbacks and some steep rocky sections then the trail flattens out a bit and drops all the way down to the lower trail.
Pictured:Can you spot the three riders coming down the switchbacks from the upper trail? This picture is also from when the trail was still mostly burned out. Now the bushes are high enough you probably wouldn't see any of the riders.
You are right along the lower trail at this point and need to get back up the hill. There are a couple ways to approach the next climb, the original (Finch Platte Approved) route is just to continue on the upper trail. An easier route has been cut a little lower hillside. To find it drop onto the lower trail for a short while and look for a trail going up to the left. The two trails merge higher up the hill. Either way the second big climb has no switchbacks and is just a gruelling march straight up the side of the hill. Be prepared to be mauled by twigs and leaves from bushes which encroach onto the singletrack.
Pictured:One of the TROGS working his way up the second big climb.
About half way up the second climb there is a fork in the trail. The lower fork takes you back down to the lower trail, the upper fork takes you up to the ridge trail. At this point it's your call, I usually take the ridge trail which is a exacting route along some of the roughest cross country trails around. Finch Platte likes to go down so he can climb up the "Maze Trail".
Pictured: Augie and his son on top of the ridge.
Although the officially mapped trails only offer the two routes there are actually multiple ways to cover the upper trails. One of the best trails is newly built by a gentleman named Bryan (whom I have yet to meet). Originally the trail went straight up the hill and was called Cardiac Hill. It has been transformed into a maze of switchbacks which crawl up the hillside and then back down, folding onto itself several times. In places the 'Maze Trail' doubles back to within 5 feet of itself after covering several hundred yards of trail. This trail has excellent technical climbing and is a fun downhill as well.
To reach the Maze Trail drop down to the lower trail you will pass several trail markers (most trail markers at Lake Hogan are obsolete). Look for an unmarked but well used trail going up the hill shortly after a section of short steep rolling mini-hills.
Pictured: Looking down at the lower trail from the ridge top.
The Ridge Trail ends at the top of the Maze. There is a third trail which goes downhill on the north side of the hill. At this point either the Maze Trail or the northside downhill are challenging and a blast to get down. The north side trail is a bit steeper and faster.
Pictured: Bob riding along on the Miners Cove section of the trail.
As you get past the Miners Cove the trail is truly owned more by the cattle then the mountain bikers. How far the trail continues depends on the season, how much mud you can tolerate and how high the grass has grown. We've gone several miles past the cove into some areas where there is really no trail left at all and we are just following the shoreline of the lake.
Pictured: "The Break Spot" in Miners Cove. Lots of rocks to rest on right near a creek and the first real shade of the ride.
At this point the upper trail is done and your route will follow along the shoreline with the lower trail. The trail continues for several miles before you get to a cattle gate and Miner's Cove. The lower trail gets a bit more exciting at this point and there are plenty of interesting diversions. The cattle gate marks the beginning of an entirely different type of trail. The rocky water shedding trail is replaced with normal mud and clay. To make things more interesting there are often cattle grazing in this area which tend to tear up the singletrack and create their own routes.
The return trip depends on you. If you are feeling tired you can take the lower trail the whole way. Many of the climbs are even more difficult on the way back. Usually, I like to climb up the Maze Trail and take the Ridge Trail most of the way back but, how you go depends on how much more riding you want to do.
Once you are done with the ride the "Good Friends" Chinese Buffet in Valley Springs is a good post-ride meal.