Thornewood In Your Pocket

Hike Among Redwoods at Thornewood Preserve in Woodside

Woman on hiking trail staring up at redwood trees at Thornewood Preserve in Woodside

Hints of wildflowers in February, a ravine of redwoods, and vistas over the San Francisco Bay and Diablo Range … Thornewood Preserve in Woodside packs a lot into its tiny space. For an extra special morning, catch the sunrise from a vista near the trailhead.

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Hike a 3-mile out-and-back route combining the Schilling Lake Trail along the upper preserve and Bridle Trail connecting to the lower preserve. (You can park at either end, although there are more spaces in the main lot by the Schilling Lake Trail.) From Schilling Lake Trail, descend towards its namesake oasis, a small pond with dabbling ducks. Live oaks twist over fertile trailsides with early-blooming wildflowers like pink warrior’s plume. In 0.4 mile, a beautiful opening looks out over Hoover Tower and the southern San Francisco Bay.

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This land was once the estate of Julian and Edna Thorne—hence the Thornewood name—in the early 1900s. Near Schilling Lake is a junction for Bridle Trail, descending a sharp 400 feet along redwoods and Dennis Martin Creek. After winter rains, the creek has small cascades.

Woman hiking among the redwoods at Thornewood Preserve in Woodside

At the bottom, near Old La Honda Road, keep your eyes peeled for fetid adder’s tongue, a winter-blooming flower with purple and white sepals. Its name is a nod to its not-so-pleasant smell. When ready, retrace your steps and climb back up to the trailhead.

Note: La Honda Road/Highway 84 will be closed weekdays between February 8 and February 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for tree removal. It will be open on weekends. If planning to visit during the week, you can take a detour via Kings Mountain Road, or try your luck parking at the bottom of the preserve on a dirt shoulder big enough for a few cars off Old La Honda Road. 

From I-280, take exit 24 for Sand Hill Road West. Drive 2.0 miles and then turn right onto Portola Road. Bear left in 0.2 mile to stay on Portola Rd. Drive 0.6 mile, and then make a sharp left onto La Honda Rd./Hwy 84. Drive 1.6 miles to Thornewood Preserve on your left. The preserve is open a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Dog-friendly!

*{Covid-19 Update, February 2021} Please download a map from the park’s website before you go; paper maps are not available at the preserve. Please practice social distancing and wear a face covering when you’re not able to maintain 6 feet of distance.*

Story and photos by Melissa Ozbek, @melissaozbek.

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