On Sunday, the forecast for Gilroy predicted a high of only 82, which struck me as an engraved invitation to stop in on Henry Coe State Park on the rare sub-100 day in August.

Naturally, it was at least 10 degrees hotter in the park, which gave me a perfect excuse to look for easy, shady miles and leave the leg-burners till winter and spring. One terrific find: the Ponderosa Trail, a spur from the trail that goes up to the Coe Memorial. It’s about nine-tenths of a mile, an easy loop once you make the 400-foot climb up from Coe HQ. It goes through a stand of Ponderosa pines and feels almost like hiking in the Sierra except for the lack of craggy peaks nearby.

Green and gold

The green and gold are a gorgeous combination this time of year, before the yellow turns to brown in September and October.

A nice snag

There is one nice dead tree.

Looking up into a Ponderosa Pine

And a nice live one nearby.

Ponderosa Pines on the ridge

The ponderosa is a stately tree, to be sure.

Looking towards the Santa Clara Valley

On a clear day the the loop offers eye-popping views.

Lonesome picnic table

There’s even this lonesome picnic table to pause and soak it all in.

The rest of my pictures seemed unremarkable — mostly snags we’ve seen a dozen times before.

From the Coe Memorial I went down to Frog Lake, where I heard a distinct knocking sound on one of the large dead trees coming up out of the pond. Sure enough, there was a woodpecker pounding away. I’ve heard them before but it was the first time I’d actually seen a woodpecker at work. There’s a little path around the pond that’s worth checking out.

From there it was up to Middle Ridge Trail and back to the HQ via the Fish & Corral trails. This really is one of the better moderate hikes at Coe: almost all on single-tracks that take you through pretty much all the park has to offer, terrainwise, without infarction-inducing climbs up all those old gravel roads.