This peak is one of the few named points in Henry W. Coe State Park
which has a summit register, and is in the southeast corner of the park.
Before the opening of the Dowdy Ranch Visitor Center
in 2007, an ascent of this peak required a 20+ mile hike from the Hunting Hollow entrance, or a 16-mile walk from Bell Station (mostly a boring fire road). But if the locked gate at Bell Station is open, then the peak is more like a mile and a half round trip from the eastern entrance.
The catch is that Dowdy Ranch is only open from late spring to early fall, and only if funding is available, which it was not in 2010 due to the state budget crisis.
The park website has an excellent description of trailheads and directions
(click on the 'directions and map' link for each).
The two most-used trailheads are Hunting Hollow (off 101 in Gilroy) and Dowdy Ranch (access via Bell Station off 152 east).
From Hunting Hollow
: there are a variety of possible routes. Here are some favorites :
- Hike Lyman-Willson Ridge and the Bowl trails to Willson Ranch, then Vasquez down to Canada de la Dormida, and then up the Dormida trail to Burra Burra trail. The Dormida trail is steep and faint in places. This is just under 10 miles one-way from Hunting Hollow. An alternative to Dormida is Vasquez trail to Center Flats Road, and then on to the Burra Burra trail, which adds about 1.8 miles.
- From Willson Ranch, take the Wagon Road to Center Flats Road. Continue on to Burra Burra Peak. This is about 12 miles from the trailhead, mostly on well-defined fire roads.
Once on Burra Burra trail, continue about 0.6 mile to a shoulder, then head northwest up a use trail to the summit. Depending on the route taken, plan on between 4000-4500' of elevation gain for the whole trip car-to-car.
From Dowdy Ranch
: walk up a signed trail from the visitor center to Kaiser-Aetna Road, then continue uphill to the signed Burra Burra trail. Follow this trail for about a mile to a shoulder, then continue northwest up a use trail to the summit.
The summit area had a black PVC summit register as of October 2010.
If hiking in from Hunting Hollow, be aware that late spring through summer and early fall the weather can be scorching
hot. This hike is best done during the cooler months -- bring plenty of water in any case.
Current day-use and backpacking fees are summarized on the park website here
: $6/day at Hunting Hollow, with a $5/night additional charge for backpacking. Dowdy Ranch is not presently open.
Backpackers can self-register at the Hunting Hollow trailhead (see Red Tape section above for fees).
If Dowdy Ranch is not staffed, it may be possible to camp there after hiking in from Hunting Hollow. Call up the park headquarters to check on the availability of water.
According to California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names
, by Erwin G. Gudde, William Bright, the name may be derived from buriburi
, a word of Costanoan origin. See this entry
in Google Books.
According to the park website :
The origin of the name Burra Burra is a mystery but, per Teddy Goodrich in Names on the Land. A History of Henry W. Coe State Park, "'burren' means a place of rock in Gaelic. The Burren is a rocky limestone region in western Ireland."
External LinksList of hikes from Dowdy Ranch visitor center (PDF)
, from park website
Burra Burra Peak
view from coestatepark.com
This page is dedicated to John F. Wilkinson (1940-2010). He led a Burra Burra Peak dayhike annually for the local Sierra Club, and introduced many a hiker to the park, and its huge scale.