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Ed Willson Trail



2.9 mile 4.7 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 547' 167 m
Descent: -418' -127 m
High: 1,477' 450 m
Low: 931' 284 m


Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 15% (8°)


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Trail shared by Joan Pendleton

Travel through woods, grass hills, and spring wildflowers to the park's highest point with great views of everything.

Joan Pendleton

Features Birding · Lake · Views · Wildflowers

The park is open 8am to sunset.


Ed Willson Trail starts from Harvey Bear Trail about 0.4 miles from the parking area at the dam.

From the very start, Ed Willson Trail climbs and climbs steadily for 1.8 miles. This climb is on the east side of Coyote Ridge with its woods and grass hills. The Coyote Creek Valley is to the east with Palassou Ridge behind it. To the west, Coyote Ridge rises to its crest.

For about the first 0.3 miles, the trail runs through grass hills that are used as pasture land, so there are a good number of cows around. After that, the trail goes through alternating sections of woods and meadows (without cows). There is quite a variety of wildflowers here in the spring. At the 1.0-mile mark is the first of two switchbacks. The second switchback is at the 1.4-mile mark and with the altitude gained, the views are quite expansive here. But the best is yet to come...

The high point of Ed Willson Trail is reached at the 1.8-mile mark. Looking south, there is a vast panorama of pretty much everything. Palassou Ridge that forms the east side of Coyote Lake/Creek Valley, Coyote Lake, Coyote Ridge with several of its high points (lower than the viewer) including Mummy Mountain, the rural southern Santa Clara Valley, Central California in the far distance, and Santa Cruz Mountains can all be seen. Wildflowers, and butterflies playing in them, add to the wonder. This is a great place to take a nice long break and have a snack.

From its high point, Ed Willson Trail descends continuously on the grass-covered west side of Coyote Ridge for the next 1.1 miles. Enjoy wildflowers and views of southern Santa Clara Valley to the west along this descent. At the bottom of this section, the grasslands are used as pastures, so there are cows again.

Ed Willson Trail ends at Harvey Bear Trail, 0.4 miles farther up Harvey Bear Trail from the Ed Willson Trail starting point.

Flora & Fauna

Expect woods dominated by oaks and grass hills. Blooming wildflowers and butterflies can be found here in the spring. Cows graze at the start and end.

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Land Manager: Santa Clara County Parks

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Jul 13, 2019
E Bright99
2.9mi — 1h 30m
Apr 23, 2018
Joan Pendleton

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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in California


2 Views Last Month
24 Since Apr 24, 2018



Left to right - Palassou Ridge, Coyote Lake and dam, Coyote Ridge, and southern Santa Clara Valley with central California in the far distance, looking southeast from the high point of Ed Willson Trail.
Apr 24, 2018 near Morgan…, CA
Ed Willson Trail meanders through a meadow with purple smooth vetch wildflowers, and Palassou Ridge in the distance.
Apr 24, 2018 near Morgan…, CA
White Chinese Houses wildflowers along Ed Willson Trail. Typically, these flowers also have purple in them, but here, in neighboring Henry Coe State Park, and other nearby places there are pure white versions.
Apr 24, 2018 near Morgan…, CA


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