Hike Date: Aug. 2, 2011
Distance: 4.6 miles
Trail(s): Blue Oak Trail, Dick Bishop Trail, Hassler Trail, Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail, Cordilleras Trail
Where’s it at? San Carlos, CA just east of 280 near Crestview
Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve is nearly 500 acres of very dog-friendly open space located in San Carlos, CA, near Hwy 280. Dogs are allowed on all trails and there is a large off-leash area in the center of the park as well. Oddly, we didn’t see a single dog on our visit but skirted the entire perimeter of the park with the trails chosen.
The area is a good mix of Oak woodlands and chapparral. Tons of poison oak all over the place so watch out. I seem to have escaped rash-free, except for the few yellow star thistle that inadvertantly rubbed my legs. (I hate those things btw…)
I highly recommend that if you take the perimeter loop that we did, that you do it in a clockwise fashion. The elevation gain is only about 450 feet total, but from the trailhead to the highest point seems like it’s just a continuous uphill hike almost exclusively. Just before the highest point, along the Dusky-Footed Woodrat Trail there are a lot of short switchbacks. I think it would be annoying to have to go down those, is why I recommend the clockwise hike.
There were a couple things about this trail that I didn’t particularly like, although a big plus was the trail construction and it’s maintenance…it was a nice trail for the most part. I didn’t enjoy seeing a large fence with barbed wire along the outskirts of the park where it borders the SF Watershed property. Seems like the trail could’ve been built a tiny bit further away from the fence without much distance lost. I also didn’t think the views were all that special from anywhere in this park. You sort of have two or three different views that are ok, but you keep seeing them over and over and over again from 10-feet-higher vantage points as you round each switchback. I hate to compare trails, but if you’re going to this area, I highly recommend combining with, or replacing with, hiking Edgewood Open Space and Natural Preserve which has it’s trailhead very nearby.
I didn’t see much wildlife. A few fence lizards. Some birds I couldn’t recognize. But nary a Dusky-Footed woodrat, despite one of the trail’s name. The sign at the trailhead warns of ticks, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions as well. Didn’t see any of those either, gladly. There was some weird grass that I’m trying to identify here and there as I came near the end of the Woodrat trail. It looked at first like it was patches of coyote hair or some kind of thick animal hair in tight bunches, but it was definitely a grass of some kind. I’ll try to come back and post the name when I figure it out. I should’ve taken a picture.
So this was not one of my favorite hikes on the peninsula, but I’m glad to have visited. I don’t expect I’ll make a return visit for a few years, it looked like they were doing a lot of construction in the area and I’d read something about a possible connector trail to Edgeview. Who knows.
Photos from a hike through Pulgas Ridge (click to enlarge)
Useful Links about Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
- openspace.org on Pulgas Ridge
- wikipedia.org on Pulgas Ridge
- cityofsancarlos.org on Pulgas Ridge
- Yelp Reviews
Directions to Pulgas Open Space Preserve trailhead
View Hiking Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve in a larger map