The Skyline Trail

San Mateo County Parks

Length 11.1 mi · Climbing 1030 ft
California >

The Skyline Trail

Background

This long but easy trail on California Water Service Company property joins Huddart and Wunderlich County Parks. It mainly seems to be used by joggers combining the trails in the two parks. The most interesting part of the trail is a small, little-known patch of upland old-growth redwoods about two miles in.

The trail gets some traffic noise because much of it runs just below Skyline Boulevard. However, it’s still enjoyable since the woods are less affected by logging than in nearby parks and the trail is purpose-built singletrack rather than an old logging road. The main disadvantage of this trail is that there aren’t any loop options: except for the Molder Trail at mile 4.5, there are no cross-trails and no way to access Skyline Boulevard.

The trail is almost entirely wooded. Some stretches of trail are rough and slightly overgrown. The first mile and a half also has a little poison oak, but it’s easily avoided.

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Part of the Bay Area Trail Map: Skyline Ridge (Redwood Hikes Press, 2017)

Hike description

Here’s the trailhead location in Google Maps and Google Street View.

Kings Mountain Road has unfortunately been festooned with “No Parking” signs, but there are 3 or 4 legal parking spots in a pullout on Kings Mountain Road just uphill from the trailhead.

The trail starts by contouring along a steep second-growth redwood-covered hillside above Squealer Gulch. The trail soon leaves both the gulch and the redwoods behind and crosses over to Bear Gulch.

At first, the scenery in Bear Gulch isn’t anything special, but it improves as the trail climbs over the next few miles. The trail passes through dense tanoak and other wooded areas as well as and two short brushy sections under overhead power lines. The trail then crosses though an area of heavily-logged redwoods before entering the unlogged old-growth redwood grove.

The Skyline Trail

The trail passes through two small old-growth groves in neighboring shallow ravines. The groves aren’t that spectacular, but it’s surprising to find any old growth remaining on Skyline Ridge at all.

The first grove is small and densely wooded; the second is larger and more open. The biggest redwoods are only about 5 feet in diameter, but they’re clearly bigger and more varied in size than the second-growth redwoods before and after the grove. The old-growth redwoods also have the distinctive light color of old growth, and some of them have have deep "goosepen" openings caused by repeated fires over a long period of time. The redwoods grow on a steep hillside that at one point is quite open.

An old-growth redwood on the Skyline Trail

The redwoods come to an end as the trail contours out of the gully, briefly giving way to old-growth fir. Cars occasionally whoosh by on Skyline Boulevard.

Near the end of the trail, a few houses appear and the woods change to second-growth redwoods. The trail switchbacks downhill to avoid a privately-owned parcel, then climbs again, crossing a driveway, to reach the boundary of Wunderlich County Park.

The Skyline Trail


 

© 2017, 2022 David Baselt