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Pulgas Ridge

Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve

Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve Links:

December 17th, 2000

3.2 miles
535 vertical feet
Total Time: 1:55

Rating: 6/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

I set out on a beautiful winter's day to Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve near Edgewood and 280. Of course, a beautiful winter's day in the Bay Area means crisp clear blue skies and glowing rays of sunshine. I'm sure I've noticed this before, but it became apparent to me that with the winter sun lower in the horizon the light is much more pleasing than the hot California summer sun.

The preserve is just on the other side of 280 from Canada Road, which I've biked on many many times. In fact, today was Bicycle Sunday. But I'd never even heard of Pulgas Ridge, much less been there. I was in for a pleasant surprise.

The small parking lot was almost full. A ranger sat in his car there, perhaps checking to make sure no mountain bikers violated the recent prohibition of bikes on the preserve. Bikes may be banned, but Pulgas Ridge is one of the few places where dogs are encouraged. Dogs are allowed throughout the preserve, and there's even a large area where they can be released from their leashes. Needless to say, many dog owners were taking advantage this beautiful morning.

Blue Oak Trail

The Blue Oak Trail starts out switchbacking up through the forest. I hadn't expected much difficulty on this hike, so I was a bit surprised it just kept on climbing for over 500 feet over the first mile and a half. Various mushrooms line the sides of the trail. There were a handful of manzanitas amongst the other nameless trees (nameless because I don't know their names).

Mushrooms growing next to the trail

Eventually the trail meets up with the Hassler Loop Trail, which is a wide road surrounding the off-leash dog area. I headed to the left, continuing uphill. The grade eased off a bit as I came upon a strange sight -- a large growth of cactus. Hundreds of them, as if a desert had been transplanted to the forested hills.

Cactus next to the Hassler Trail

Continuing uphill I passed a grove of eucalyptus trees. Once again, I noticed how different they are from the ones I saw in Australia. The ones in Australia are much skinnier. I would also say they are a lighter green, but have more character than the eucalyptus trees here. Perhaps that's just because I'm so used to the ones here, or because I realize they're not native and they're growing out of control. Go to Australia and you tell me what you think.

The trail passes a large water tank. Shortly after that the Polly Geraci Trail heads off to the right. However, I kept on the Hassler Trail, continuing up the hill to the top. I was rewarded with views of the South Bay, views of houses along Crestview Drive, and a sneak peak at Crystal Springs Reservoir. I also saw something very strange. If you ever drive on 280 you might notice a sign for a vista point on the Bay side of the freeway, just north of the Edgewood Road exit. At this point I was able to see the parking lot for that vista point. I could see several cars and people there, along with a shaded bench. But I couldn't actually get there because between me and the parking lot was not one, not two, but three different fences, the middle one of the barbed wire variety. I really don't understand why those fences are there. I would have liked to have seen the view on the other side. But I guess I'll just have to drive there sometime.

View of the Bay

I retraced my steps and then turned left and descended the Polly Geraci Trail. The trail is mostly on a north-facing slope and so doesn't get much sun. Many of the twisting, slanted trees were covered with moss. Good conditions for moss, but not great conditions for taking pictures. I zipped down the trail until I came upon a beautiful sight at the bottom -- sunlight filtering through the trees and illuminating a small foot bridge over a small creek.

Bridge at the end of the Polly Geraci Trail

Shortly after crossing the bridge, I turned left onto the Cordilleras Trail. I didn't go far before I reached the end of the trail near the creek. I sat down on the lone bench and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and enjoyed the silence. Then I got up and went back down the Cordilleras Trail, continuing on the section which parallels a road past the Redwood Center (a private place which as far as I could tell has nothing to do with redwoods). If I'd known how boring this section of the trail is, I would have taken the alternate route (which would have been to get on the Hassler Loop Trail and then back on the Blue Oak Trail).

In any case, it was only four tenths of a mile on this stretch before I was back on Edmonds Road and within throwing distance of my car. If you ever come here, one word of caution. I slowly started the drive back down Edmonds Road as I noticed a couple people with their dog, looking and pointing across the road. It didn't occur to me until it was almost too late that they were pointing to their other dog (how was I supposed to know they had two?), which was now crossing the road right in front of me. Luckily I looked to my right and stopped in time. Just be careful.

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