2.2 mile easy loop at old tuberculosis sanitarium grounds.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2.2 mile loop hike, like all the options at Pulgas, is
easy: total elevation change is about 400 feet. Trailhead elevation is around
264 feet. The highest point is about 670 feet. This is a small preserve;
a good choice for beginners.
Mix of shade and sun.
1 1/2 hours.
Nice any time, really special in early spring.
From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, exit #29/Edgewood Road. Drive about
1 mile east, then turn left onto Crestview Drive (just before the entrance
to Edgewood Park). Almost immediately, turn left onto Edmonds Road. After
about 0.2 mile, turn right into the signed parking lot.
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:
None in the immediate area. No camping.
No entrance or parking fees. There is a vault toilet. There are two
designated handicapped parking spots, and two trails are wheelchair accessible.
No drinking water. Maps are available at the information signboard. There
is no direct public transportation to this preserve.
No bikes or horses. Dogs are permitted on leash, and off-leash at the off-leash
dog area. Preserve is open from dawn to 1/2 hour after dusk.
The Official Story:
MROSD field office 650-691-1200
from MROSD (download Pulgas pdf).
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.
Peninsula Tales and Trails, by David Weintraub (order
this book from Amazon.com) has an overview of the preserve, descriptions
of hikes, and simple maps.
The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book, by Tom Taber, has a simple
map and preserve descriptions (order
this book from Amazon.com).
Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, has a simple map, trail
descriptions, and suggested hikes (order
this book from Amazon.com).
View 60 photos from the featured
hike (old trailhead shown)
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
is a small, well-managed preserve with a large off-leash dog area where dogs can run through the poison oak and brush
to their hearts' content. If
you don't want to hike with dogs about, go across the canyon to Edgewood Park, where dogs
are not permitted. However, if you aren't bothered by the occasional dog
barking and charging down the trail at you, or if you are a dog owner,
give this preserve a shot.
The 293 acres that now comprise Pulgas were
formerly a tuberculosis sanitarium owned by the City of San Francisco.
MROSD purchased the land in 1983. Buildings were demolished in 1985, and
most of the non-native plants have been removed, but there are still some
old walls and steps off Hassler Trail.
In 2006 MROSD added a new parking lot and
two trails to the existing small trail network. A third route, Dusky-footed
in 2007. Dick Bishop Trail (formerly named Sagebrush Trail) begins up
on the ridge, and connects the end of Polly Geraci Trail with Blue Oak
Trail, avoiding the off-leash dog area. A short (as far as I know, unnamed)
path departs from the parking lot and connects to Cordilleras Trail, so
hikers no longer have to walk along Edmonds Road to connect a loop.
Begin from the edge of the parking lot,
and follow the signed trail toward Polly Geraci Trail. The path
accompanies a string of power lines to the left, as it traverses a gently
sloping hillside. Coast live oaks, California bays, and buckeyes provide
shade. The property on the right is a substance abuse treatment center
-- stay on the trail here and keep it quiet. After some easy undulating,
the trail bends right, passes through a narrow tree-dotted meadow, crosses
a road, and meets Cordilleras Trail at a T junction. Turn left.
The trail cuts through private land, so
stay on the trail (don't walk on the road). Not too much to look at here,
just abundant poison oak shrubs, annoying non-native broom plants, and some
oaks and acacias overhead. You might see a few Ithuriel's spear and
blue-eyed grass in spring. After 0.37 mile, at a signed junction, Cordilleras
Trail continues uphill, while a gated trail heads under the trees to the
right. (You can continue on the paved Cordilleras Trail to create
a shorter, 1.3 mile hike.) Turn right. After a few feet, at 0.40
mile, Polly Geraci Trail begins on the left at a signed junction.
The trail continuing straight is suitable for wheelchairs. Turn
The Trail Center built this segment,
and it's lovely. It's a hiking-only, gently-climbing trail that is
quiet and shady. In spring, look for mission bells, starflower, woodland
star, mule ear sunflower, milkmaids, columbine, hound's tongue, giant
trillium, Indian warrior, and fetid adder's tongue in bloom. Deer are
common, especially on the eastern side of this canyon. On the way uphill,
Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail heads off to the right, taking hikers on a
long tour through the preserve's northern area. Continue straight on
Polly Geraci Trail.
Switchbacks ascend under buckeye, coast live
oak, madrone, and California bay trees. In the understory, gooseberries,
snowberries, and honeysuckle nestle among the ferns. Traffic noise from 280 infiltrates solitude after
0.75 mile or so. The foliage gradually shifts to chaparral near a
bench at about 1.07 miles, where a small snip of the highway is visible,
as well as some large newer homes on the crest across the canyon to the
northeast. This section of chaparral is lovely, with tall chamise
shrubs and manzanitas, giving the trail a tunnel feel. Spring flowers
include zigadene, bluewitch nightshade, and sticky monkeyflower. Elderberry,
yerba santa, ceanothus, pitcher sage, and toyon are also present. The
trail becomes sandy, and if you look across the canyon, you can see more
chaparral-coated rocky hills with small sandstone formations (unfortunately,
those hills are not part of the preserve). At 1.38 miles, the trail ends
at a signed junction with Hassler Trail -- Dick Bishop Trail begins
immediately across from the junction. Hassler to the right ascends to
run along a CalTrans vista point (fenced) -- the other end of Dusky-footed
Woodrat Trail connects to Hassler there. Turn left and head downhill.
When it's clear there's a nice panorama
of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the right. To the east Mount Hamilton
looms in the distance. Hassler Trail is a wide paved road, with a
comfortable downhill grade. Some eucalyptus trees line the way. The trail
splits around the off-leash dog area at 1.54 miles; it's 0.4 mile either
way, but I prefer the trail to the right, for nicer views of the slopes
of Edgewood Preserve across the canyon to the south. Bear right.
Pulgas used to house a tuberculosis sanitarium,
and this area of the preserve was home to many non-native plants, including
rockrose, oleander, and a large stand of prickly pear cacti; these have
all been removed, and new oak seedings have been planted to reinvigorate
the sides of the trail. Spring wildflowers in this region of disturbed
vegetation are disappointing. Blue Oak Trail starts at a signed junction
off the right side of the trail, just past the end of the dog area loop
at 1.87 miles. Turn right.
Blue and coast live oaks, California
bay, and madrone shade the narrow hiking-only trail. Almost immediately,
the other end of Sagebrush Trail feeds from the right. Indian warrior,
shooting stars, and hound's tongue make a strong showing from late winter
to early spring, and broom and poison oak are common. Switchbacks keep
the descent a gentle one. In mid-spring you might see fairy lanterns along
the trail. At 2.3 miles, Blue Oak Trail ends at the edge of the parking
Total mileage: 2.3 miles
Last hiked: Tuesday, November 23, 2004