There are several ways to access Cottle Trail. The easiest access to Cottle Trail is from the Rancho San Vicente Entrance trailhead parking area along McKean Road at the northwest edge of Calero County Park. From this parking area, take Lisa Killough Trail
for 0.6 miles to the starting point of Cottle Trail.
Alternatively, one can access Cottle Trail at a trail junction in its midsection from the trailhead parking area on the east side of Calero Park at the Main Park Entrance off of McKean Road. To get to this trail junction from this trailhead parking area, take the Access Trail
, then either Pena Trail
or Figueroa Trail
to Serpentine Loop Trail
followed by the Serpentine Loop Trail Connector
, which ends at the Cottle Trail junction. See the trail descriptions for these other trails.
From its starting point on Lisa Killough Trail
, Cottle Trail meanders through the grass of a thinly wooded hillside for its first 1.3 miles. The trail is fairly flat here and shaded by oak trees. The first views of Calero Reservoir are at about the 0.6 mile mark.
After 1.3 miles, Cottle Trail arrives at Calero Reservoir on the hillside above the Calero Reservoir dam. From here, the trail goes through wooded and grass sections as it follows the reservoir's western shoreline for the trail's next 1.3 miles. To the left of the trail, the reservoir can be seen below, nestled among the grass and wooded hills of Calero County Park.
Leaving the reservoir behind, Cottle Trail follows a broad, grassy creek valley. This valley, housing Cherry Canyon Creek, is one of several that feed water into Calero Reservoir. About 2.9 miles from the trail start, you'll find the trail junction with Serpentine Loop Trail Connector
and Lisa Killough Trail
After passing the trail junction, Cottle Trail enters the woods and follows Cherry Canyon Creek upstream. The trail crosses the creek three times as the creek valley narrows and its densely wooded sides steepen. As the creek approaches its headwaters around mile 3.3, the trail begins a steep climb. At about mile 3.7, the trail veers left to climb up out of the creek valley. A small high meadow is soon reached. At the end of the meadow is the Cottle Rest Site with a picnic table, horse-watering trough, and hitching post. This is a great place to take a break after the steep climb and long hike to get here.
The Cottle Rest Site marks the end of the Cottle Trail and the beginning of the Chisnantuck Peak Trail
that leads higher up Bald Peak.
Oaks, buckeye trees, and manzanita woods can be found here. Ferns and other dense vegetation grows along the creek. Grass hills are abundant, often with deer, ducks, geese, hawks, wild turkeys and other birds in the area.