Hunting Hollow 5K/10K Trail Run

Henry Coe State Park is the largest park in Northern California, featuring a whopping 87,000 acres of explorable space visited by only 34,000 people a year.  Over 23,000 acres of it is untouched wilderness and miles and miles of trails for some of the most scenic trail running anywhere in the Bay Area.  Once the home of Ohlone Indians, the park is now home to a fascinating variety of plants and animals, including the elusive mountain lion.  The park is now on the Governator’s list of 48 state parks to close due to the state’s financial crisis.  So I didn’t want to miss the 11th running of the Hunting Hollow 5K/10K this year.  It’s very likely the park will close this summer and it could be a very long time before it opens again.  A real shame.

Henry CoeI had run the 10K race twice before.  East of Gilroy, Hunting Hollow is a long, broad, grassy valley, criss-crossed by a meandering creekbed and surrounded by steep hillsides.   The 10K course follows a fairly level dirt road to the valley’s end and back, occasionally passing through late spring flowers and the shade of large oaks, sycamores, and bay trees.

The signature feature of this event is the water crossings–very unusual for a 10K.  In past years when we have had more rainfall, there have been as many as 7 – 8 creek crossings.  This year there were just three, but that’s six crossings on an out-and-back course.  First timers and road runners tend to try and run around the water crossings.  I have grown to enjoy these crossings and go straight through them, usually passing a few people or gaining precious time on a few runners.  I wore my new Vasque Celerator trail shoes with Drymax socks for this race and wanted to see how they performed going through the water crossings.  In short, I was impressed.

Less than a mile into the race it seemed I had already found my place for the finish.  There was nobody ahead of me I could catch and there didn’t appear to be anyone coming up behind me.  So I settled into a good tempo pace.  I had planned on running another 6 – 10 miles after the race.  My plan was to use the race to add in a hard tempo in the middle of back-to-back-to-back long runs. 

The field thinned even more at the 5K turnaround.  Due to the rollers throughout the course, I always forget it is slightly uphill going out.  I wasn’t paying attention at the start when the gun went off and forgot to set my watch, so I didn’t know my pace or split at the halfway point.  I didn’t mind at all.  In fact, I have become fond of running without my Garmin and all the data it feeds me after it stopped working a couple months ago.  I cruised in to the finish in 47:48, just over a minute slower than my fastest time on this course.  I was 13th out of 122, but only 4th in my age group, and there were five guys in the 50 – 59 age group who also finished ahead of me.  Still not bad, considering I had just run 15 miles of trails the day before.

I couldn’t help but wonder what happens this year with all the registration fees.  All proceeds from this event are reportedly used to fund the Coe Park’s Visitor Center Expansion Project, but with the impending closing of the park, there’s no expansion going on.

Common Monkeyflower and Scarlet PimpernelLarge-Flowered LinanthusIthuriel's SpearLinanthus

Directions / Hours / Fees
The Hunting Hollow entrance is located off Gilroy Hot Springs Road.  Take Highway 101 to Leavesley Road and go east over the highway.  Turn left onto New Rd. and then right onto Roop Road.  Roop Road turns into Gilroy Hot Springs Road.  The Coyote Creek entrance is 2 miles past the Hunting Hollow Parking lot and does not offer any parking.   

The Hunting Hollow and Coyote Creek entrances are open 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week year round. Hunting Hollow is staffed during Spring and Summer.  There is a standard $4 parking fee payable by cash or check.  For vehicles with a person 62 or older, the parking fee is $3.  Bring exact change since change may not be available.

Misty RidgesMiddle RidgeAutumn at China HoleWildflower CarpetGoldfields

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