Edgewood Park along Edgewood Road near Highway 280 is well known as a favorite place to see spring wildflowers. It packs a lot of biodiversity into 467 acres, with large, open grasslands, chaparral coastal scrub, foothill woodlands, and areas of year-round seeps and springs. The result is habitat for more than 500 distinct plant species. Also, 160 acres of the park feature serpentine soils. Low in calcium and nitrogen, but high in magnesium and heavy metals, this soil is toxic to many plants. This turns out to be a good thing, because it protects native plants that have adapted to this soil from invasive species.
At the main entrance to the park on Edgewood Drive, an informational sign provides pictures of what’s blooming. In early spring, you may see larkspur, goldfields, lupine, monkeyflowers, miner’s lettuce, and buttercups. On the wetter sections of Sylvan Trail, you should find maidenhair fern and creambush. As you climb the hills, you may discover more monkeyflower, bush lupine, chamise, clematis, elderberry, coyote brush, hollyleaf cherry, toyon, and the lovely but itchy poison oak. In the grasslands, look for red Indian warrior, California poppies, blue-eyed grass, blue dicks, and monkeyflowers.
As the Serpentine Trail passes through areas of serpentine soil it offers owl’s clover, blue-eyed grass, blue dicks, goldenfields, creamcups, tidytips, larkspur, and checker-bloom.
But there is more to Edgewood than pretty flowers. The well-maintained single-track trails take you through wonderfully diverse environments with pleasant forests, large meadows, small waterfalls, and lovely hills. I also appreciate the four benches, perfect for resting, sunning, eating, and changing camera lenses.
I walked south from the parking lot toward the shaded picnic area, and then followed the signs to the Sylvan Trail. The first mile took me through the shade of oaks and bays. When I reached the intersection with Sylvan Loop, I stayed to the left, then climbed a relatively easy grade. I passed through lightly wooded areas with occasional views of large grassy hills where I saw deer running and jumping, not from fear but from what looked like the joy of living. It was a beautiful sight.
I walked the Serpentine Loop for a short distance before reaching Live Oak Trail, which took me to a scenic view not listed on the park map. It was a short walk up to the viewpoint, a grassy plateau, complete with bench, overlooking the Skyline hills to the west. It was a great place to think big thoughts while snacking on almonds and cheese.
I stayed on the left branch of Ridgeview Loop. The trail paralleled the Serpentine Trail, but instead of walking a flat path along Highway 280, I was up higher on the ridge with more interesting views and less traffic noise.
I turned right on Franciscan Trail through some nice meadows, then down the switchbacks of the Sylvan Loop, and left on the Sylvan Trail back to the parking lot. It was approximately four miles around the park, and I loved every step.
Although the large unshaded meadows can be hot in the summer, this park is a hiker’s paradise, complete with interesting trails, diverse environments, and natural beauty. The ups and downs are relatively mild, and no dogs or bicycles are allowed, but watch out for runners and horses.
The loops can be confusing. Get a trails map from the Friends of Edgewood website (www.friendsofedgewood.org/maps.asp).
The easiest way to reach the park is via Interstate 280 north to Edgewood Road east, and then turn right on Crestview Drive. The most scenic route is via Skyline to Highway 84, east to Interstate 280, and north for two exits to Edgewood Road.