Backpack to Mississippi Lake

Rate this Adventure San Francisco Henry W. Coe SP Headquarters

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This is a strenuous hike in Henry W. Coe State Park that has a rewarding end at Mississippi Lake and a great backcountry camping opportunity. No reservations required ahead of the trip! 

If you're tired of trying and failing to get reservations for backcountry camping around the bay area, then Henry Coe State Park is the perfect place to visit. No reservations need to be made prior to the trip. All you need to do is get to the HQ on the morning of your trip, get your permits and let the rangers know where you plan to camp on each night of your trip and they'll limit the number of people they allow to camp around areas you'll be camping in. Thus providing you with a great backcountry experience without having to deal with overcrowded campgrounds. And there's always plenty of dispersed campsites available inside the park, even on long weekends, in case the one you were planning for has already been taken by an early riser!

For Mississippi Lake from the park HQ, at least a 3 day 2 night trip is advisable. Push hard on the first day and make it all the way to the lake. On day 2, cover half the distance back and camp at Los Cruzeros. Finish up on day 3 with an easy hike back to your car.

Route Details

Day 1: HQ to Mississippi Lake (13.2 Miles, 1600' up, 2000' down)

Coe Ranch Headquarters -> Corral Trail -> Forest Trail -> Manzanita Pt Road -> Manzanita Point -> China Hole Trail -> China Hole -> The Narrows -> Los Cruzeros -> Willow Ridge Trail -> Willow Ridge Road -> Mississippi Lake

Day 2: Mississippi Lake to Los Cruzeros (5.8 Miles, 918' up, 1784' down)

Mississippi Lake -> Willow Ridge Road -> Willow Ridge Trail -> Los Cruzeros

Day 3: Los Cruzeros to HQ (5.7 Miles, 1682' up, 299' down)

Los Cruzeros -> Narrows -> China Hole -> China Hole Trail -> Manzanita Point -> Forest Trail -> Corral Trail -> Coe Ranch Headquarters

Other Stuff

  • Get a map from the HQ (around $8)
  • Park at the HQ
  • There are a few springs and creeks with water along the way to Mississippi Lake
  • It is best to call the park in advance to check current water conditions
  • There's always water at the lake
  • Always filter/treat backcountry water

Pack List

  • Water
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Water Filter
  • Stove System
  • Headlamp/Flashlight
  • Season appropriate clothing
  • Meals
  • Snacks
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

26.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3600 Feet

Features:

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic

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