Distance: 18-mile out and back
Elevation gain: 2680 ft
East Dunne Avenue is the road to Henry Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill. It’s the southernmost of a series of climbs into the East Bay hills (although it’s actually well south of the Bay), and it’s a lot like its brethren—Mt. Diablo, Mt. Hamilton, Sierra Road, and Metcalf Rd. The landscape is pretty much the same for all five—oak- and grass-covered hill—and all have similar grand panoramic views of the flatland to the west (in this case, the Santa Clara Valley). All five rides are steady climbs on good road surfaces. So how do they compare?
Hamilton, upper Diablo, and Dunne are the twistiest, so if you like carving corners start with them.
Metcalf and Sierra are the steepest, both absolute brutes (but short); then comes Dunne, then Diablo, then Hamilton. On paper the numbers don’t look all that different, but it’s the difference between moderate climbing on Hamilton (6-7%) and work on Dunne (8-9%). Dunne is exactly half the length of Hamilton, but I find it to be the tougher climb.
Because Dunne is the steepest climb among the big three, it’s the worst descent, because it’s too steep to stay off your brakes and rip. Maybe if you have disc brakes it’s another matter.
Diablo and Hamilton have better road surfaces. Diablo is a State Park, so its road surface is always pristine. Hamilton just got repaved (in 2021), so it’s pristine right now. Dunne is intact (no potholes, no patches), but the surface is chipseal (albeit a smooth version of chipseal), so there is some chatter descending. I give the surface a solid B+ rating and no more.
Dunne probably has the least amount of traffic. On a Tuesday late morning in July I saw perhaps 5 cars. This is probably because, unlike Hamilton and Diablo, there is no tourist attraction at the top—no world-famous vistas, no observatory. Just hiking trailheads, a small visitor center, and a few historic ranch buildings.
If you think that sounds like East Dunne isn’t as splendid as Diablo or Hamilton, you’re right. Still, it’s a good ride.
(To see the map in a more user-friendly format, clip on the drop-down menu in the RWGPS box in the upper R and select “map.”)
Our route begins around the intersection of E. Dunne and Jackson Oaks Drive. Looking at the map you’d think that the trip from Hwy 101 to that intersection would be flat, but the intersection actually sits on a little ridge, and there’s significant unrewarding climbing to get there, so I don’t recommend beginning the ride any further west unless you just need more climbing.
You’ll come pumped for the big climb, so you’ll be surprised when the ride begins with a sweet, brisk descent down to (as of 2022) nearly-dry Anderson Reservoir. Cross the large bridge over the dry lakebed (note the hilarious sign saying that diving from the bridge—into the dirt—is discouraged) and do 1.5 mi. of easy rolling along the lake front. When the road turns away from the reservoir, there is no more flat—it’s almost all up, with two noticeable short descents, to the park. The serious climbing is only 6.3 miles, but you’ll feel it.
After that 6.3 miles there’s a mile or so of easy up and down to the historic Coe Ranch, which is the end of the paved road. There’s not much to the ranch. The last 1/10 mile is noticeably down, so if you’re drained you might want to skip it. The Visitor Center was closed when I was there (on a Tuesday), but the drinking fountain was working and there’s a shady picnic table.
The return ride includes two noticeable climbs, one 0.4 mi. and the other, at the end of the ride, 1 mi. Both are shallow enough to be rolled in almost any state of exhaustion.
Shortening the route: You could ride partway up the climb and turn around, but I don’t see the point. The raison for doing the ride is to do it all. You can skip the last 1-mile climb by driving to the bridge and starting there.
Adding miles: The Canada Road Plus ride is a short car trip to the south. From our start/finish point you’re 7 easy miles from the Uvas Road loop, described in the Adding Miles section of the Canada Road Plus post, and you’re 5 easy miles from the southern trailhead to the Coyote Creek Trail, at the intersection of Eagle View Dr. and Morning Star Dr. While I am generally cool towards rec trails on road bikes, this trail, which runs from Morgan Hill to San Jose, is pretty perfect: totally effortless, it gently meanders up and down and back and forth through surprisingly pretty country, with lots of woods, next to no stop signs or road crossings, no back sides of industrial complexes or junk yards. It’s not a place for pace lining or time trialing (there’s a 15-mph speed limit), and that’s just fine—leave your heart rate monitor and computer at home and stroll it. The only drawback is foot traffic—I rode it on a Wednesday morning in July, and the trail was largely deserted but the occasional clutch of walkers put a slight dent in my wa. Weekends I assume would be much worse. You’d think the trail would get wilder and prettier the further out of town you get, but not so—my favorite leg is the 3-4 miles south from Hellyer Park, smack in the middle of San Jose.