If your idea of a good summer party is hitting the trails, then Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve makes a very festive venue. Bursting with colorful wildflowers and exuberant wildlife, this locals’ favorite (tucked away in a San Carlos suburb) seems to be celebrating right now.
Lizards strike disco poses in the sunshine, robins and bluebirds sing, and Anna’s hummingbirds and painted lady butterflies flutter about. You might even see a red-tailed hawk peering from a tree branch—like a bouncer surveying the scene. For a good mix of scenery, do a 2.2-mile loop hike that begins with the Blue Oak Trail. This narrow sun-dappled path winds through a thick grove of oak trees and around switchback turns as it ascends to the hilltop. The trail is currently decorated by acacia blossoms, fluffy dandelions, bright yellow lilies, and garlands of Spanish moss draped over tree branches. From the Blue Oak Trail, take the Hassler Trail, a short section of paved road with great vistas of the bay. Continue until reaching the Polly Geraci Trail, a scenic traverse along a chaparral-covered hillside.
After coming around the bend, you’ll descend into a shaded ravine of bay trees, oaks, and leafy ferns. Also making an appearance: “soap plants” dressed up for the occasion with dazzling white blossoms that only open in the late afternoon and early evening. The Polly Geraci Trail meets up with the Cordilleras Trail, where charming swallows swoop through an expansive grassy meadow in a whirl of merriment. Who’s ready to party?
Pulgas Ridge Preserve is open every day from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. The parking lot on Edmonds Rd. is quite small and may become crowded during peak times. Abovementioned trail route begins on the left-hand side of the parking lot (facing away from the street) just past the restroom facility. The end of the route at the Cordilleras Trail is a short walk (turn right) back to the parking lot. Dog-friendly!