4.2-mile loop at a cherished preserve with an interesting mix of vegetation and pretty trails. Elevation gain is about 500 feet.
Meeting point: parking lot
Edgewood Park and Ride, Page Mill Road Park and Ride, Walgreens at El Camino and Grant, REI at Rengstorff and 101...
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)
Mix of shade and sun.
Nice any time, but exceptional in spring.
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:
CSMPD's Edgewood page
Map & book choices/More information:
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber has a simple map and a featured hike. Order this book from Amazon.com.
• Map from CSMPD
• Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of an Edgewood hike.
• 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).
• Friends of Edgewood website.
Edgewood 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
(Text quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)
Edgewood 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 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, following the signs for Sylvan Trail. 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 an undersigned junction.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 with Serpentine Loop Trail. Continue straight on Serpentine Loop Trail. (Option: you can shorten this hike to about 3 miles by turning right on Serpentine Loop 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 the service road and continue the featured hike).
Open to hikers and equestrians, Serpentine Loop 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 at 1.39 miles, Live Oak Trail heads off to the right. Continue straight on Serpentine Loop 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 a huge jackrabbit bound off into the grassland. Look to the left for good displays of fragrant fritillary in March. The trail winds slightly uphill to a signed junction at 1.55 miles. Turn right and remain on Serpentine Loop 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. Serpentine Loop Trail gently descends to the west, with nice views to the forested slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. At 1.77 miles, a connector to Clarkia Trail sets off to the left at a signed junction. Turn right on Serpentine Loop 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 Serpentine Loop 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 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 on Serpentine Loop Trail.
Two junctions are reached in quick succession. The first, at 2.43 miles, heads uphill to the right to Ridgeview Trail. Next comes Edgewood Trail, to the left at 2.57 miles. Continue straight on Serpentine Loop Trail at both junctions.
The wide trail curves east and climbs gently, reaching a flat grassland plateau. At 2.83 miles, Serpentine Loop Trail veers right at a signed junction with the Service Road (identified as Old Stage Road on some maps). Bear left onto the Service Road.
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. The Service Road heads downhill to the north, offering views to Pulgas Ridge. A sign encourages you to stay on the trail. At 3.12 miles, turn right at an unmarked junction(there's a post but no trail signs).
The narrow path winds along the edge of the meadow, past a large rock outcrop, and joins Sylvan Trail at 3.34 miles. Take Sylvan Trail left (east) towards the parking lot.
Like the other leg of the loop, Sylvan 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.