Pulgas Ridge: The Best San Carlos Hiking Park That Nobody Knows About.

April 20, 2018


Going to the Dogs.

If the chronically overflowing parking lot at Edgewood Park is any indication, San Carlos residents love their outdoor space.  And who can blame them?  San Carlos and Emerald Hills residents are lucky to have such a verdant hiking park so close to their respective borders. It's an ideal place to disappear for a meditative hike, or for the more ambitious, a seriously challenging run.

But as we hit the peak wildflower season, the trails at Edgewood Park become a bit more congested, and battling to find a place to park takes away some of the zen that people go there for in the first place. But there is a fabulous alternative to Edgewood Park for hiking and running, and it's so close by that I'm surprised that more people don't know about it:  The Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve.

Located literally a stone's throw across Edgewood Road from the Day Camp of Edgewood Park, Pulgas Ridge offers much of same rolling terrain, serene trails, and stunning views that people flock to Edgewood Park for.  And there's an additional benefit that only Pulgas Ridge affords: You can take your dog with you!

In fact, there's a 17.5 acre portion of the park you can let your dog off the leash to be…. well, a dog.  That's certainly something that you can't do at Edgewood Park!

Technically located in a part of unincorporated San Mateo County that borders Crestview Drive in San Carlos, the Pulgas Ridge Preserve was originally purchased in 1983 by the Peninsula Open Space District, and was actually the former site of a tuberculosis sanitarium.  That building was subsequently demolished, but you can still see where the old buildings once stood.  It's a fabulous place to hike, yet I rarely see very many people in the park!!

There are several great loops that you can create over the nearly 6 miles of trails that traverse the 366 acre park.  My favorite is the 2.2 mile Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail which takes you to the highest point of the park, affording you some amazing views of the Bay Area.  The terrain is certainly challenging for hikers of all abilities.

If You Go..

Here are some helpful tips if you're planning to try Pulgas Ridge for the first time:

  • Dogs:  They are welcome, but you are expected to pick up the poop and pack it back out on your own. There are no garbage cans anywhere on site, so you need to pack it all the way out. (Sadly, some people feel that it's ok to leave the poop bags at the entrance to the park. Please don't be one of them.)
  • Pack Water and Sunscreen:  The trails alternate from the shade of the woods to unobstructed sunshine at the top of the ridge.  You'll be out for a few hours, so bring plenty of both.
  • Shoes:  You can get away with wearing running shoes — just be sure that they have adequate traction since the terrain on the upper trails can change quickly, and the soil is somewhat sandy. Otherwise, light hiking shoes are fine.  If your feet need the support, go with the latter.
  • Trail Maps.  There are usually trail maps available at the parking lot and trail head, but you can click here for the location of the park and a downloadable map:  Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve.

So if you're looking for an alternative to the crowds at Edgewood Park, give Pulgas Ridge a try!  You'll be glad that you did.

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