THE WEBSITE FOR ALL
THINGS REDWOOD
CITY
by Mark Martinho
OUTDOOR STORIES
Have a great Outdoor Story to Share? Email us (include photos if possible) and we'll post it*
b
Redwood Trading Post
Your Source for Fine Outdoor Gear!
(650) 363-2033 Website
b
Aquan Sports
Aquan Sports specializes in all things water and FUN for the whole family
(650) 593-6060 Website
b
Any Mountain
The Great Outdoor Store
(650) 361-1213 Website
 
* all stories submitted are posted at the discretion of the owner of this website.
Ross Hotchkiss Jim Rogers ~ September 12, 2010

ALONG THE CRYSTAL SPRINGS TRAIL

ñ“… The age of Sat Nav and GPS is one of paradox. We are better than ever at finding our way from A to B, but we know less and less about what’s in between.” The Economist, 08/21/2010
Redwood City

Traversing the trails along Cañada Road from Hwy. 92 to Runnymede and thence back to Cañada provides insights to our peninsula, both past and present. The best way to begin is at the trailhead just several yards south of the 92/Canada intersection. It’s on the west or right side of the road. A hike is the best way to see everything; bicycle Sundays if you want company, weekday mornings for quiet solitude.

Before starting, take a second to look around. About 100 yards up and across the road is a bike/pedestrian bridge leading over the 280 Freeway and up to the Ralston (Ave.) Trail. Look across the reservoir about a hundred feet higher than your current elevation and see if you can spot Old Cañada Road. It comes out at Hwy. 92 about a quarter mile above the lake. Last of all note the trail offers an option north which is currently a dead end. The County Park Master Plan calls for it to eventually meet the very popular Sawyer Camp Trail.


The same Master Plan names our route, which heads down and toward the lake, Crystal Springs Trail South. The trail and road are traveling through what geologists call a rift valley, the rift in this case being the San Andreas Fault Zone., The namesake fault is at the bottom of the lake. A second, the Pilarcitos, is up on Sawyer Ridge, more or less along Skyline Blvd. A third, the San Gregonio, comes ashore at Pillar Point, near the famous Mavericks surf spot. The Pilarcitos has experienced the largest offset in modern time; companion rocks are to be found at least 125 miles south.

SAN MATEO COUNTY  1863

Though the 1863 map scale is terribly skewed it’s interesting to note the course of the streams running through the words CANADA, they tend to drain to the north. Now see the same drainage in its current form below (blue lines). They bend south, the headwaters dragged north by the Pilarcitos rift

SAN MATEO COUNTY  1863


Though the 1863 map scale is terribly skewed it’s interesting to note the course of the streams running through the words CANADA, they tend to drain to the north. Now see the same drainage in its current form below (blue lines). They bend south, the headwaters dragged north by the Pilarcitos rift.

The trail soon loses sight of the road but in about 0.8 miles returns for a few yards before dropping down to the next drainage, a pattern followed more or less the next 3.5 miles. Just over the top of the next hill is the driveway to a caretaker’s house. The USGS self guided geology tour linked at the end of this column mentions that the cypress trees along the left side of the drive have been offset from the remainder of the grove as the fault creeps north (above the “L” in CRYSTAL).

Looking at Crystal Springs Trail from Sheep Camp Trail

About a half mile further, down the drainage and up the hill, stop for a good view of Cañada Road. Also looking straight across you will see Sheep Camp Road, which was active in 1863. It’s now officially a trail leading over Pulgas Ridge, under 280 and up to the Belmont Trail System. The access is across the road just down the hill (left of the “I” in FRANCISCO). The hill also provides one of several cuts that allow views from the road of various rocks including serpentine, greenstone and Franciscan sandstone (see a beautiful example of polished greenstone in front of the Redwood City main library.)

Next on the agenda is the Pulgas Water Temple, a structure erected in 1934 to mark the terminus of San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy water system. Today most water enters through other nearby portals. Renovated several years ago, the area is now closed on weekends except for special events. There are also two new facilities erected next to the grounds, one immediately south and a very large one across the street. Neither is opened to the public as the razor tape and barbed wire protection makes obvious.

After passing the large meadow on the right (watch for deer grazing or resting in the shade), we arrive at the Filoli Center. This was originally built for William Bourn II around 1916, the architect being Willis Polk who also designed the Water Temple. Mr. Bourn owned the Spring Valley Water Company which comprised the surrounding land and goes far to explain how the Old Cañada Road, which runs directly behind the mansion, became Cañada, a half mile away, along its current route.
The mansion and gardens are on 125 acres, now held by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The surrounding area, slightly over 525 acres, was donated to the state by

the current owner Mrs. Roth in 1977 and is a nature preserve. In older times there was an Ohlone Indian encampment along the creek, but it was gone by the early 1800’s. Guided nature tours are available by reservation to point out many interesting features including artifacts of past inhabitants, flora, fauna, and geological features.

Past the gate the large meadow between the road and the mansion is another good place to watch for wildlife; deer, coyote, and raptors especially. In years past, this included a flock of turkeys, but they’ve been less evident recently. We have been told turkeys are not popular with the gardeners. Shortly after leaving the meadow the trail climbs a hill (Hill 394); the shady view is worth the climb.

Past the gate the large meadow between the road and the mansion is another good place to watch for wildlife; deer, coyote, and raptors especially. In years past, this included a flock of turkeys, but they’ve been less evident recently. We have been told turkeys are not popular with the gardeners. Shortly after leaving the meadow the trail climbs a hill (Hill 394); the shady view is worth the climb.

The View North from Hill 394


We end this part of the tour at the Edgewood Rd. junction. There stands a set of stone gate structures marking the entrance to either the Phleger estate, or the Old Cañada Road, or perhaps both. According to the historical documents attached to the Parks Master Plan, Edgewood Road was constructed by Willard Whipple in 1851, utilizing an old Indian trail. The original road was used to haul lumber to Redwood Embarcadero.

Redwood City

Heading South


Next month: Still walking south, we will find a ghost town, pass a therapeutic horse and see the home of world renowned sculptures.
Redwood City
Jim Rogers is a long time peninsula resident who enjoys rambling about and observing our outdoors. He is also the author of the book, Masters on the Trail: A Backpack Primer for Folks over Fifty, available at Redwood Trading Post, and on the Web at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. You can reach him at oldrbakpakr@gmail.com .
ADVERTISING IN THIS SITE