Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch
Hiking the Mummy Mountain Trail
I’ve hiked the Coyote-Bear area in the hills east of Gilroy before. This 4,595-acre recreation area offers fishing, boating, camping, horse and bicycle riding, and lots of hiking.
The Bear and Mendoza sections of the park have over thirty miles of trails. They range from a two-mile paved loop at the Bear Ranch trailhead for joggers, dog-walkers, and people who want an easy walk, to longer hikes through oak-studded canyons and along grassy ridges with excellent views.
In the past, I hiked in the northern part of the park dominated by rounded green hills with nice views over southern Santa Clara Valley. It was a pleasant hike through giant pastures, but it was muddy in the winter and provided little shade for summer.
I thought that was all there was, but Niki Lamb recommended a trail at the south end of the park available from the Mendoza Ranch entrance. I tried it, and I liked it. If it wasn’t my new best trail, it was my best new trail.
The Mummy Mountain Trail has lots to like. It’s a single, narrow, hikers-only track with limited traffic. It offers variety in elevation and forest cover, excellent views to the west and east, and a lightly graveled trail surface that keeps mud to the minimum. The slopes up from the south are gradual with plenty of shade from beautiful old oaks.
When you reach the north end of the Mummy Mountain Trail, you have a choice of two trails to complete your loop. You can turn left on the Mendoza Trail to complete the loop on another ridge-top hike, or turn right on the Coyote Ridge Trail for an easy, relatively flat walk back on a wide trail to the original trailhead. If you take the trail to the left, your hike is about 3.6 miles. If you go right, you shorten your hike to about 3.1 miles.
Although equestrians and bicyclists can’t use Mummy Mountain, they can encircle the same area by riding the Mendoza/Coyote Ridge loop for three miles.
The Mendoza Ranch trails are well-maintained, sign posts offer clear directions, and benches at strategic points supply welcome rest stops, but more interpretative signs would be valuable. The parking lot accommodates horse trailers and cars. A drinking fountain and a portable toilet are available.
The drive to the Mendoza entrance is about fifty miles, but the trip south on Highway 85 and 101 is fast. You turn east at San Martin Avenue, right on New Avenue, and left on Roop Road to the Mendoza Ranch entrance on the left. Once on San Martin, several signs will guide you to the parking lot. When you leave, you might want to turn left on Roop, then right on Leavesley Road. This will take you to the outlet stores and even more important, an In-N-Out Burger fast-food restaurant. Enjoy. I know that I did.
For the best map, visit sccgov.org/sites/parks/Ride Here/Pages/Coyote-Lake-Harvey-Bear-Ranch-County-Park.aspx. At the bottom of the second page, click on Hiking the Coyote-Bear. At the bottom of the second page is a PDF map showing hiking trails. Other park maps don’t show the Mummy Mountain Trail.