Nestled just outside of town in the east hills of Gilroy, California is the small town's favorite recreation area. Coyote Lake - Harvey Bear Ranch Park is an outdoor recreation area split into three parts. The Coyote Lake section provides an excellent avenue for boating and fishing including a world class stock of black bass as well as bluegill, black crappie and Eurasian carp. The Bear and Mendoza sections of the park provides outdoor adventurers with 35 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails that wind through tall oak forests, craggy canyons and grassy ridgelines, providing spectacular views of the southern Santa Clara Valley.
Visitors looking to explore the myriad of outdoor activities in Coyote - Bear Park should start their journey at the park's visitor center. Within, there are exhibits that display the local wildlife including reptiles, amphibians and fish that are native within the park boundaries and details the best places to find them within the area. This is not only helpful to those hoping to spot some wildlife, but also fishermen that are not local to Coyote Lake.
Nearby is the Coyote Lake Campground that provides an excellent base of operations close by to the lake, but hikers will need to do some walking to get to the major hiking trails in the Bear and Mendoza sections, but it is a beautiful lakeside walk. Those who are looking to visit during the popular camping months that span from Memorial Day through September, there won't be much luck without a reservation.
The three-mile long Coyote Lake is easily the highlight of this recreation area. It allows for motorized and non-motorized boats to ply its serene waters providing opportunities for jet-skiing, water-skiing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking and the most popular pastime of fishing. Unfortunately, swimming in the lake is not allowed but there are plenty opportunities to get wet aboard sport watercraft.
For those looking to hike in the Bear Ranch section of the park, it provides both paved and unpaved hiking trails for all fitness levels. The Harvey Bear / Coyote Ridge Trail is among the park's most popular trails, however it is also the most difficult. Although only six miles long, it climbs to the top of Coyote Ridge, providing panoramic views of the valley and Coyote Lake below. Once hikers reach the historic Harvey Bear Ranch, it provides a look at where the valley begins and leads to an "end of the world" sort of feeling.
The Mendoza Ranch section of the park provides less variety in their hiking trails, but instead of the lonesome and now defunct ranch grazing land of the Bear Ranch section, it showcases the beautiful oak forests of the park. The Mummy Mountain trail provides the best view of the area, although it is just over a three mile hike. The trail travels past hidden canyons and up the humble gently sloping Mummy Mountain through a thick forest. When hikers emerge from the trees at the summit, they can look out over the forests and spot the canyons like deep cracks in the earth.