I received a note that the Bell Station Gate may soon be open year round...
"The Pine Ridge Association is an official state park cooperating association. They have a newsletter and the topic of opening the gate has been the main issue for the last year. I personally have seen construction activity near that entrance. The plan was to open the gate this spring but the heavy rains this winter has delayed the construction."
If this happens, I will update the page to reflect accessability through this gate for the shorter Back Country Weekend mostly-legal route on a continuous basis.
For anyone considering the hike from HWY 130, I can advise you that it takes nearly two hours to get there from San Jose. This is because you first have to crest Mt. Hamilton on a windy road, descend all the way back down the other side, go up and over another minor ridge, and then down to a meadow to park. There is no parking area per se, but one car can park on the side without restricting access to the gate.
I found it easier to follow a ridge that divides Red and Pinto creek basins up to the summit road. It's a little of bushwacking in chaparral, but not so bad; at least not as bad as dropping all the elevation into Pinto Creek canyon and bushwacking in the poison oak down there.