Opt for Oljon

The scent of redwoods and ferns mingled in winter’s crisp air never gets old at El Corte Madera…

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The scent of redwoods and ferns mingled in winter’s crisp air never gets old at El Corte Madera Creek Preserve in the South Bay. But now you can try something new here by hiking the Oljon Trail, 1.3 miles of pristine singletrack added to the park as a final stage of an 18-year watershed protection program.

Get an early start on a 5-mile loop hike that quickly connects the Sierra Morena Trail and the Oljon Trail, taking you deep into a redwood valley. Continue on the Oljon Trail and cross several bridges installed to protect sensitive fish habitat throughout the park.

Hulking second-growth redwoods deck the trails. After 2 miles get onto the Spring Board Trail, where the forest opens to pine trees and more redwoods before joining the Steam Donkey Trail for a steep climb. You may want to stop and take a few breathers, lest you run out of steam on Steam Donkey. No matter: Stopping to take in the surrounding forest is a good way to appreciate the beauty of this park. Take Gordon Mill Trail back to Sierra Morena Trail to finish the loop.

BONUS: Post-hike stop at the Methuselah Tree, just a half mile up the road from the parking lot. A roadside pullout is located just a few feet from the tree, marked by a large sign. Over 1,800 years old, the Methuselah Tree is the largest redwood in the Santa Cruz Mountains, other than the trees found in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Park at the El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve parking lot (16040 Hwy. 35, Redwood City). Pack water for the hike as there is no water at the trailhead. Bathrooms are available. Parking can become limited as the area is used by both hikers and mountain bikers. No dogs.

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