Good trail loop options. Dog-friendly.
Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
Neil Wiley


Although Pulgas Ridge is a relatively small
366-acre preserve sandwiched between
Highway 280 and the City of San Carlos, it
offers an interesting array of trails of varying
lengths and difficulty. You can walk, push a
stroller, or ride a wheelchair up and back a
level half-mile trail (Cordilleras Trail). You
can hike a 2.4-mile loop up the switchbacks
of Blue Oaks Trail to Hassler trail, across the
ridge to Polly Geraci Trail, and down by a
seasonal creek to the level Cordilleras Trail.
You can bypass the Hassler Trail for the
heavily forested single-track Dick Bishop
Trail. Or you can double the length of your
loop by adding the appropriately named 2.2-
mile Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail. Whatever
loop you choose will take you through canyon
woodlands, sunny meadows, and ridge tops
of chaparral.


Pulgas Ridge must be Midpeninsula Open
Space District’s most dog-friendly preserve.
Dogs on leash are permitted on all Pulgas
Ridge trails. Moreover, you can let your dog
run free in a 17.5-acre off -leash dog area.
Woof! Of course, you’ll need to keep your
dog under voice control at all times, and you
must have a leash, just in case. (See Cecilia
Saleme’s article about on-leash training, page
28.) By the way, although pulgas means “fleas”
in Spanish, the name for this area came long
before the dog park. I’m glad to report that
no fleas were seen or felt on my hike.


My hike


My trip to Pulgas had an inauspicious start.
It was a one-hour commute on Highway 17
from Summit to Black Road, made worse
by my impatient detour via Idylwild to Old
Santa Cruz Highway. It may not always be
this bad, but this trip was start/stop, mostly
stop, all the way to the metering light at the
Bear Creek Overpass. After this slow start, my
trip up Black Road to Skyline was easy sailing,
and the drive along Skyline to Highway 84,
and then down to Woodside was beautiful.
In Woodside, I enjoyed seeing the old
Pioneer Hotel and Whisky Hill Road, made
a bit famous when the name was borrowed
by Dave Guard’s Whisky Hill Singers. (If you
remember this group, you are old.)
When I got to Highway 280, I drove north
a short distance to Edgewood, went down
the hill northeast 0.8 of a mile, turned left at
Crestview Drive, then made a quick left on
Edmonds Road. I followed the signs to the
small parking lot on the right.


While I packed my cameras and food,
several cars entered the parking lot. I realized
that I was missing something. All carried one
or more dogs.


On the way up the narrow switchbacks of
Blue Oak Trail, I encountered more dogs.
They were friendly, which was fortunate,
because as they rubbed by me, I was hit only
by a few friendly tails. (Perhaps they should
call it Tail Trail.)


When I reached the first trail intersection,
I chose the single-track Dick Bishop Trail
rather than the paved road called Hassler
Trail. It was a good choice. Dick Bishop not
only bypassed the off-leash dog area, but
offered pleasant walking through shaded
forest for almost a mile before reconnecting
with Hassler Trail.


I turned left on Hassler Trail to go uphill
to a view site I had seen on Google(R) Maps.
Although not shown on preserve maps, this
official view site off Interstate 280 looked
promising. It was at the top of the hill, and
blessed by Caltrans. When I reached my
objective, however, I found not one but
two unclimbable fences blocking the view.
Although the signs on the other side of the
fences indicated they were keeping “viewers”
inside the view site, they kept me in the “No
trespassing” zone.


When I saw some “view” visitors on the
other side of the fence, I couldn’t resist.
Putting my hands on the fence, I called to the
couple, “Let me out.” They looked startled,
then the man laughed, and said, “No, you
have been bad.” I accepted his judgment, but
vowed to see the view site after my hike.


I walked back to the intersection with
Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail. A sign said
that the trail was named for some threatened
woodrats. I walked the trail for about a
mile, but not seeing woodrats and hearing
too much traffic on nearby Interstate 280, I
hiked back to the Hassler Trail, then down
the single-track Polly Geraci Trail through a
corridor of chaparral deep into the canyon. A
small bridge took me to Cordilleras Trail, a
flat, boring but easy trail back to the parking
lot. (Be sure to watch for the connector trail,
just past the private Redwood Center.)


I hadn’t given up on seeing the view site,
so I drove back via Edmonds, Crestview, and
Edgewood to north Interstate 280, and found
it at the next exit. The view was worth the
stop, and since the only exit put me on north
280, I drove to the next view site entrance,
which took me under the freeway and up
another hill with views to the west, and an
easy return to south 280. Th e view was less
interesting, but I noticed that the parking lot
was full of cars in mid-afternoon.


Almost every car had one occupant—a
man. I shot pictures along a walkway that
surrounded the parking area for almost half
an hour, but these men did not leave their
cars and simply stared out at the view. Were
they tired of driving, working, living? I don’t
know, but they were still there when I left.
They might have been happier going on a




Off-road parking is free. Maps should be
available at the trailhead, but you can find them
on the website— Horses
and bicycles are not allowed in the preserve.
Watch out for poison oak, ticks, rattlesnakes,
and other pests. Preserves are open from dawn
until one half-hour after sunset.


While at Pulgas Ridge, you might enjoy
a visit to the nearby Pulgas Water Temple,
a monument built in 1934 to celebrate
completion of the Hetch Hetchy water system.
To get there, go west of Edgewood across
Interstate 280 to Cańada Road, then turn
north (right) about two miles to the temple.
The temple and parking lot are open to the
public on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Several other trail systems are nearby.


Virtually across the road from Portola Ridge,
Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve is famous
for spring wildflowers. The 467-acre park is
1.5 miles from Interstate 280 on Edgewood.
For more information about wildflower and
bird walks, call 1-866-GO-EDGEWOOD.
If you would like to be closer to Crystal
Springs Reservoir, walk the six-mile, flat,
paved Sawyer Camp Trail from the reservoir
to San Andreas Lake. From Interstate 280,
take Black Mountain Road/Hayne Road
exit west to Skyline Boulevard. Go south
on Skyline one mile to the trail entrance at
Crystal Springs Road. For more information,
call 650-589-4294.

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