Huddart County Park
and Phleger Estate
Huddart County Park stretches from the outskirts of Woodside up to Skyline Ridge. The park is almost entirely covered in second-growth redwoods and its shady trails and picnic areas are great for warm summer days.
Huddart's wooded hillsides don't offer a lot of variety or any scenic views, so it's as enjoyable as nearby parks like Windy Hill, Coal Mine Ridge, and Purisima Creek. Huddart does, however, have a full range of facilities including group campgrounds, picnic areas, volleyball courts, even an archery range, so it would be a better choice if you want to do anything else besides hiking. The park is also very popular with joggers, maybe because the trails are so shady.
Also, while most of the park is very peaceful, the lower portion of the park sometimes gets some traffic noise from Highway 280, a constant hum emanating through the redwoods.
Wunderlich County Park, just a few miles to the south, is very similar to Huddart. Of the two, however, Huddart is somewhat more scenic and enjoyable, with more interesting topography and lusher, more attractive woodland. Huddart also adjoins the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Pfleger Estate, which provides some nice loop hikes.
The park has an entrance fee of $6/car.
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
Start at the small parking lot at the Zwerlein Trailhead. Three trails branch off from this trailhead; take the middle one, which switchbacks downhill through small yet attractive redwoods toward Richards Road.
At the end of the trail turn left on Richards Road, which runs along a the bottom of a little valley next to a creek. Because it's easily accessed from Woodside, this road is the most popular trail in the park, with lots of joggers and walkers. After crossing the creek, the road begins to climb.
Turn onto the well-marked Miramontes Trail into Phleger Estate, which continues to run along the flat valley floor for a while before beginning to climb. At the intersection marked with the huge signpost, take the Mount Redondo Trail, which is shorter and slightly more scenic than the Raymundo Trail.
The well-maintained trail climbs along the side of a wide ravine covered with an open second-growth redwood forest. Turn left onto the Lonely Trail. Fittingly, this seems to be the least-used trail in the area. It's also one of the most enjoyable parts of the hike, winding uphill through a quiet, mixed redwood and hardwood forest before ending at Skyline Ridge.
Continue along the Skyline Ridge Trail until it ends at Archery Fire Road. From this point it would be possible to take the fire road straight back to the parking lot, but the road is steep and not very scenic. Instead we take a route that's almost twice as long but a lot more enjoyable.
From Archery Fire Road, turn left onto the Chinquipin Trail, which descends along one side of a large ravine. When the trail ends, turn left onto the Dean Trail, which starts out as a dirt road but then becomes a singletrack trail. Turn right onto the Crystal Springs Trail. The first few miles of this descent is the least interesting part of the hike; due to a dense tanoak understory, the forest in this area is much less open and attractive than it was in the Phleger Estate, and it's also rather monotonous. An exception is the area around McGarvey Flat, a picnic area in a shady ravine surrounded by some decent-sized redwoods.
By far the best scenery of the descent, however, comes on the Crystal Springs Trail after the crossing of the Campground Trail; here the trail switchbacks downhill through a lush, dense grove of tall-second growth redwoods. The forest in this area is more redwood-dominated than elsewhere in the park, and the redwoods are taller, forming a solid wall of green foliage.
After reaching the bottom of the ravine, the trail climbs through some tiny redwoods to emerge at the parking lot.
© 2010, 2016 David Baselt