Hiking the new Jim Donnelly Trail in Henry Coe State Park

The Jim Donnelly trail was just like every other trail in Henry Coe, climbing steeply to Wilson Ridge. Trails like this are strenuous on the way up and rough on the knees on the way down. Whoever built the trails in Coe had never heard the word “switchback”. Several trails climb the steep hillsides to Wilson Ridge (Steer Ridge, Middle Steer Ridge, Spike Jones), and none of them are easy. Someone finally managed to apply some common sense to one of the trails, and it has been rebuilt and rerouted with well graded switchbacks. It took about 2 years, but last summer the new Jim Donnelly Trail was opened much to the appreciation of mountain bikers, equestrians, and hikers alike.

I rarely go to Coe in the summer due to the heat, so we kicked off this winter/spring hiking season with my first visit to the new trail, hiking up to Wilson Peak and returning via Wilson Camp. This has always been one of my favorite loops (despite the nasty trails), and now it has been made even more pleasant. The new trail is really well graded, has excellent views, and I don’t hurt when I get to the top! We only climbed it on this visit – next time I’ll do the loop in reverse and I’m certain I’ll enjoy the lack of knee pain on the way down.

Here’s what the new trail looks like and a map of our GPS track. Watch out for newts!

The new Jim Donnelly Trail in Henry Coe
The new Jim Donnelly Trail in Henry Coe
Newt Crossing!
Newt Crossing!
The rarest animal of all - switchbacks in Henry Coe
The rarest animal of all – switchbacks in Henry Coe

More Pictures!

Wilson Peak Loop, Henry Coe State Park Map

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Free range human. Mountain sports addict. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Team OmniTen and Evernote Ambassador. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +

  • Karl

    The re-routing of Jim Donnelly was driven by a local Mountain Biking club, who was also looking for a less “leg burning” way to the top! They had supporters and helpers from many organizations and do good work elsewhere for multi-use trails. http://romp.org/

  • Treeswing

    That first picture looks like one of the spots we helped rough out and grade. It was where my girlfriend got her 2nd super nasty bout of poison oak. Ahhh, good times. Glad you like it, we suffered for you ;)

    • Calipidder

      Awesome! Great job, I really enjoyed the new trail. At every switchback I think I kept saying “are you sure we’re in Coe? Because this is a switchback…” Perfectly graded! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to climb a Coe ridge without lots of pauses to catch my breath. On this one we just kept going.

    • calipidder

      Great job! Thanks! I kept asking if we were really in Coe. I’m not used to being able to breathe when I’m climbing uphill! 

      • Treeswing

        Thanks, but I really didn’t mean to take credit. AFAIR it was the fine folks of the Pine Ridge Assc that made it all happen. Coe has an amazing volunteer organization!!