Trail Report: Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve

The Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve is one of the smaller preserves and is located on the lands of an old Tuberculosis Sanatorium that used to be run by the city of San Francisco (some of the old walls and an old stairway can still be seen on the property which you can see in the photo gallery). Although most sources credit this as being, at best, a 5 mile hike/trail, I was able to get almost 8 miles by wandering through the various trails on the old grounds of the sanatorium. Also, although described as “easy”, running these trails both up and down can be somewhat of a challenge. The total change in altitude of my run at the end of the day exceeded 3,000 feet, and that’s always enough to make the quads shiver.

Pulgas Preserve

In the middle of the Preserve is one of the few “leash-free” zones for dog owners. Unfortunately, many owners ignore this area, and let dogs run free anywhere. I like dogs (and cats and birds – even fish) but if people continue to ignore the rules, then they will lose one of the few remaining large park areas where dogs can do what they like to do – run free. So if you own a dog – don’t be a jerk. Put them on a leash until you reach the leash-free area. Also, the rules recently changed: You can’t leave dog poop along the edges of the trail like before. All dog feces must be removed.

The trails include Blue Oak, Dick Bishop, Hassler, Polly Geraci, Dusky-footed woodrat, and Cordilleras trails. For a long run, you can do the loops either counter-clockwise or clockwise. Personally, I’m not sure which way would be easier. As you can see from the thumbnail on the right, the area designated for leash-free dogs is clearly marked not only on the map, but by numerous signs (see the gallery).

Like most trails in the San Francisco area, Pulgas is provides both a challenge and some wonderful scenery. I didn’t see any wildlife, and I don’t know much about plants – but none-the-less the variety from exposed high mountain trails to switchbacks buried within the forest, Pulgas is a close, fun run. Even more interestingly, it is right next to a Park… which I have yet to explore. So if the five miles of hiking-only trails is not enough, just across the street is a park to extend your range (review to come!).

Ratings (1 = easy, 5=hard)
Difficulty: ***
Location: ****
Views: ***


Getting there:
From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, exit #29/Edgewood Road. Drive about 1 mile east, then turn left onto Crestview Drive (just before the entrance to Edgewood Park). Almost immediately, turn left onto Edmonds Road. After about 0.2 mile, turn right into the signed parking lot.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 37°28’30.22″N
Longitude 122°16’58.16″W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
None in the immediate area. No camping.

Trailhead details:
No entrance or parking fees. There is a vault toilet. There are two designated handicapped parking spots, and two trails are wheelchair accessible. No drinking water. Maps are available at the information signboard. There is no direct public transportation to this preserve.

No bikes or horses. Dogs are permitted on leash, and off-leash at the off-leash dog area. Preserve is open from dawn to 1/2 hour after dusk.