4.2 mile loop at a cherished preserve with an interesting mix of vegetation
and pretty trails.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 4.2 mile loop hike is easy, with about 500 feet in elevation
change. Edgewood's elevation ranges from about 225 feet to 820 feet. Trails
Mix of shade and sun.
Nice any time, but exceptional in spring.
From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County exit Edgewood Road, then drive east
on Edgewood for about 1 mile. The entrance is on the south (right)
side of the road, just past Edmonds Road.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth
data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
No services in the immediate area. No camping in the park.
There's a paved parking lot as soon as you turn off Edgewood, and a smaller
paved lot inside the gate, with room for 13 cars. There is one designated
handicapped parking space, and the trails are wheelchair accessible as far
as the picnic area. No entrance or parking fees. An information board on
the west side of the inner lot has maps. Restrooms are located near
the picnic area, south of the parking lot. There are three other (minor)
trailheads: at the junction of Edgewood and Cañada Roads, at the
junction of Sunset and Hillcrest Ways, and on Cañada Road just south
of where Cañada Road crosses under 280, at the southwestern corner
of the preserve. These trailheads offer access to the Crystal Springs
Trail and the western portion of Edgewood. There is no direct public transportation
to the park.
Sylvan Loop is designated hiking only, and all other trails are open to
equestrians and hikers. No bikes. No dogs (a good alternative is Pulgas
Open Space Preserve). Park hours vary seasonally. Gates open at 8 a.m.
and close around dusk.
The Official Story:
Park office 650-368-6283
Map & book choices/More information:
within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator
of this website) has a simple map and a featured hike. Order
this book from Amazon.com.
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub
this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of an Edgewood
The Trail Center's Trail Map of the Central Peninsula is my
favorite map of the park (order
this map from Amazon.com)
Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, has a simple map, preserve
descriptions, and suggested hikes (order
this book from Amazon.com).
Tom Taber's The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book has a simple
map and preserve description (order
this book from Amazon.com).
of Edgewood website.
in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this hike
(shorter 2.91 mile Sylvan Loop)
View photos from this hike
(longer 4.16 mile Sylvan and Serpentine Loop)
View a few springtime photos
of the park
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
is a small block of land in Redwood City, bumping up against Interstate 280 to the west, and a residential neighborhood
to the east. Now a nature preserve and park, Edgewood was protected
from development by the County of San Mateo in 1993. The preserve
is frequently crowded with joggers and picnickers, and it's tough to achieve
any sense of quiet nature with the almost constant sounds of highway traffic,
the shriek of airplanes flying at low altitude, and the everyday buzz
of chainsaws and dogs barking at the nearby houses. Still, this preserve
is a short drive from San Francisco and peninsula communities, there are
quiet places to be found, and the well-maintained, easy-to-hike trails
make it a worthwhile escape destination for short hikes.
Sylvan Trail gets the most use in this preserve -- it's part of a 2.5 mile hiking-only loop that
winds gently through a coast live oak and California bay woodland, ascending
to an open grassland plateau and then descending back down to the picnic
area. This loop has mileage markers every half mile and is well
graded, so it is an excellent exercise path, and an easy trail if you
are feeling out-of-shape.
Several loops are possible, and you can
vary your hikes by entering the preserve via the one major trailhead or
any of the three other small staging areas. Combine legs of Serpentine
Loop, Ridgewood Loop, and/or Sylvan Loop for a hike from 2 to 4 miles.
Edgewood's western section, along 280, is
mostly grassland. There are pockets of chaparral along Clarkia Trail,
Sylvan Loop, and Ridgewood Loop, but most of Sylvan is shaded by coast
live oaks and California bays. All this variety translates into a paradise
for wildflower lovers in spring, when you'll see different blossoms in
the woods, serpentine grassland, and chaparral. Late summer is also lovely,
thanks to the preserve's copious amounts of poison oak, which turn flame
red along the trails. Winter is often a muddy time to visit.
For a just over 4-mile circuit of the preserve,
walk from the parking lot south towards the picnic area. As the path rises slightly, you'll
reach a signed T junction at about 200 feet (the path to the right heads
towards the picnic areas, and the restrooms). Turn left on Sylvan Trail.
Keep an eye out for the many runners who
uses this trail, but cyclists and equestrians are prohibited. In late
winter, blossoms from flowering plum trees litter the trail like confetti. Later
in summer, the preserve's wild animals feast on the ripe fruit, and you
might notice scat studded with plum pits. On one July hike I got a glimpse
of a young coyote just off the path here. Sylvan is mostly shaded from coast live oaks and
California bays, with a few madrones and buckeyes. Honeysuckle vines dangle
from the trees, bearing red berries in late summer and early autumn. At
0.17 mile, Sylvan Trail splits at a signed junction (number 7). Bear left.
In early spring, you may see woodland star,
fat solomon, snakeroot, mission bells, and figwort. Hound's tongue, a
prolific flower in late winter, may already be dangling seeds for next
year's plants. After winter rains, there are two lovely small waterfalls,
and the sound of running water will keep you company as you ascend along
the trail, which is likely to be muddy. Maidenhair fern and creambush
are common along the wettest sections of Sylvan Trail, but you'll pass
through patches of chaparral as you gain elevation, where you might see
monkeyflower, bush lupine, chamise, poison oak, clematis, blue elderberry, coyote
brush, sagebrush, hollyleaf cherry, and toyon. At 0.54 mile a closed trail
spur breaks off from the left side of the trail. Continue to the right.
In the dry months of summer red-leaved poison oak shrubs dominate the
landscape; those "leaves of three" mingle with dry downed buckeye
leaves, in sharp contrast to the lush green trailside vegetation of late
winter and spring. As Sylvan Trail enters grassland, in early spring you
might see dramatic stands of red Indian warrior, and the delicate purplish-blue
blossoms of blue-eyed grass and bluedicks. California sagebrush and sticky
monkeyflower grow here and there. Coast live oaks thin a bit, making room
for some madrone, and a handful of white and blue oaks. Just past the
1 mile marker you'll reach a signed junction (16) with Serpentine Trail. Continue
straight on Serpentine Trail. (Option: you can shorten this hike
to about 3 miles by turning right on Serpentine Trail. The narrow trail, open to hikers and equestrians only, steps
under shade created by tall California bays, then reemerges in grassland.
At 1.43 miles, turn right onto Old Stage Road and continue the featured
Open to hikers and equestrians, Serpentine
Trail switchbacks up a grassy hillside. Take a moment to enjoy views
north, past Edgewood's softly rolling hills to Pulgas,
and east, where you should be able to pick out the shoreline of Bair
Island. At a signed junction (19) at 1.39 miles, Live Oak Trail heads off
to the right. Continue straight on Serpentine Trail.
Fences protect the habitat along the trails,
including the hillside to the right, which is scored with unsanctioned
paths. When I hiked here in July I flushed a hawk off of a boulder and
then, a moment later, scared away two deer. On more than one occasion
in this section of the park I have watched jackrabbits bounding through the grassland. Look to the left for good displays of fragrant fritillary
in March. The trail winds slightly uphill to a signed junction (20) at 1.55 miles. Turn right onto Sunset Trail.
In spring, the sides of the trail are carpeted
with native wildflowers that thrive in the serpentine soil. You might
see owl's clover, blue-eyed grass, bluedicks, goldenfields, creamcups,
tidytips, larkspur, checker-bloom, and many more. This is one of the best,
and most accessible locations for wildflowers in the bay area, and is
also home to endangered butterflies. Sunset Trail gently descends
to the west, with nice views to the forested slopes of the Santa Cruz
Mountains. At 1.77 miles, Clarkia Trail sets off to the
left at a signed junction (22). Continue straight on Sunset Trail.
The trail skirts the chaparral-studded slopes
of Edgewood's highest hill. Sporadic clumps of coyote brush, California
coffeeberry, poison oak, toyon, and gooseberry line the trail.
Park staff has been mowing the grassland, an attempt to contain a yellow
star thistle invasion, and several interpretive signs explain the project.
Traffic noise from Interstate 280 is unavoidable, and as you head north
vehicles are visible as well.At
2.38 miles, you'll reach a signed junction (14) and information kiosk. The
trail to the left leaves the park and passes under the highway, leading
to Edgewood Road (and continuing to Cañada Road). Continue straight, now
on Edgewood Trail.
Two junctions are reached in quick succession.
The first (13), at 2.43 miles, heads right, uphill to Live Oak Trail.
Continue on Edgewood Trail. Next Edgewood Trail slips off to the left at 2.57 miles (junction 9). Continue to the right
on Serpentine Trail.
The wide trail curves east and climbs gently,
reaching a flat grassland plateau. At 2.83 miles, Serpentine Trail
veers right at a signed junction (10) with Old Stage Road. Bear left.
The broad dirt trail is open to hikers
and equestrians only. In spring, the grassland is full of blooming wildflowers,
including pink farewell-to-spring, yellow California buttercups, suncups,
and goldenfields, white popcorn flower, and orange California poppy. Old Stage Road heads downhill to the north, offering views to Pulgas Ridge.
A sign encourages you to stay on the trail. At 3.12 miles (junction 6), turn right
onto Franciscan Trail.
path winds along the edge of the meadow, past a large rock outcrop, and
reaches junction 8 at 3.34 miles. Turn left onto Baywood Glen Trail (formerly named Sylvan Loop).
Like the other leg of the loop, Baywood Glen
Trail is open to hikers only. A gradual descent on switchbacks takes you
back into the woods, mostly California bay and coast live oaks, with some
madrone and buckeye. Look for prickly-stemmed gooseberry, toyon, and in
the spring, zigadene, hound's tongue, and shooting stars growing close
to the ground. As I hiked downhill here in July 2001, an emergency vehicle,
siren blaring, could be heard on nearby Edgewood Road. As the siren screamed,
a coyote (close by but obscured by the woods) responded, with a distinctive
yip and then howl. At the previously encountered junction, at 2.71 miles,
take the trail left and retrace your steps to the parking lot.
Total distance: 4.16 miles
Last hiked: Wednesday, July 25, 2001