Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Precious Peninsula Jem: Edgewood County Park

Dates: April 2 and 12
Place: Edgewood County Park, Redwood City, California
Coordinates of Sunset trailhead: 37.461815, -122.275538
Length: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: easy

At some point last year I realized that while the majority of my blog's posts are on Bay Area hikes, the Peninsula is shamefully misrepresented here.
Determined to put some peninsula hikes in my blog I went to hike Edgewood County Park. I had a lovely hike, which I didn't post about here because in my hurry to get there I forgot my camera by the door.

Didn't make that mistake this year :-)
Trail view from Sunset Trailhead
Edgewood County Park is one of the best places to see the spring bloom spectacle. It was great even in this drought year.
This spring I had the great pleasure of introducing this wonderful park to quite a few people on several occasions, and that gave me the opportunity to observe the change of colors throughout the bloom season. Some of the photographs posted here were taken by Papa Quail who joined me with the chikas on a couple of these hikes.
I also had the opportunity to explore most of the park's trails. The hike I describe here is a loop combining sections of several trails, going through the main plant communities and animal habitats in this park. It begins at the Sunset entrance, which is a side entrance to the park, with no designated parking (one has to park in the neighborhood, with attention to the posted signs) and no bathrooms.
Map downloaded from park's brochure. The trail I hiked is labeled yellow.
It starts in a chaparral area where I found the California Thrasher atop one of the bushes, singing out loud.
California Thrasher
I took the first right turn onto Serpentine Loop. There are rails along part of the trail and signs warning people from stepping off the trail. This is to protect the wildflowers in this park, some of them are endangered and all of them beautiful.
The rail, though, is the perfect perch for the Western Bluebird. 
Western Bluebird, male. Photo taken by Papa Quail
I passed the turn to Live oak trail and turned left onto Sylvan/Serpentine. This segment starts in the open but soon plunges into the woods.

That hillside is particularly rich in magnificent wildflowers. One of the most conspicuous species there is the intensely blue Coastal Larkspur:
Coastal Larkspur (Delphinium decorum)

 and the bright yellow patches of the very fittingly named California Goldfields.
California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica)
There's a lot of poison oak in this park. While the trails are well maintained and there;s no problems walking them without coming in contact with the poison oak, it is always a good idea to recognize it wherever it grows.

Poison Oak (Toxidendron diversilobum) fresh spring growth
Spiders are very common there too. I love their intricate webs, whether hanged on plants or spread on the ground.

The wood at Edgewood is mostly oak, peppered with laurel and madrone trees. The undergrowth is mainly poison oak and a variety of ferns.

Under many of the trees there are these stick piles. No one is preparing a bone fire :-) these are the nests of wood rats. They can be decades old, maintained by generations of rats.
The partly shaded forest floor is also a home for the Indian Warrior that blooms there during early spring.
Indian Warrior (Pedicularis densiflora)
Another early spring bloomer of the undergrowth is the Western Houndstongue.
Western Houndstongue (Cynoglossum grande)
The trail opens up into a tall poison oak/blackberry boulevard. People may be bothered by poison oak but not the birds. Certainly not this spotted towhee that was jumping between the twigs, not caring about being photographed.
Spotted Towhee
There is a somewhat confusing 4-way trail intersection there. Turning sharply left onto Franciscan will take you up hill to the Ridgeview Trail.
Eastward view from upper Franciscan Trail
The northeast part of the Ridgeview loop is in the woods.
Scrub Jay. Photo taken by Papa Quail
But going back north on the southwest part is in the open, offering a great view of the shrub-covered hillside and the grassland below (and of the ever-noisy I-280).
Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
In bloom, the lupine bushes on the grass looked like  pretty, puffy purple pillows :-)
Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
Lomatium plants are common in Edgewood's open areas. They make perfect roost for the iridescent Green Hairstreak butterfly.
Green Hairstreak Butterfly on Bigseed biscuitroot (Lomatium macrocarpum) Photo taken by Papa Quail
And for other butterflies too.
Brown Elfin butterfly on Bigseed Biscuitroot (Lomatium macrocarpum) Photo taken by Papa Quail
The Ridgeview trail connects back to the large Serpentine loop where is turned left and headed back in the direction of the Sunset Entrance. In season, the open grassland there is patched with the intense orange of our State flower: the California Poppy.

And another bright-yellow one can be seen there, sporting smooth and tidy white tips :-)
Smooth Tidytips (Layia chysanthemoides)
The Serpentine trail leads directly to the Sunset entrance. I chose, however, to take a detour through the parallel Clarkia Trail that took me through the chaparral.

Where the Yerba Santa bush was blooming:
California Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum)
A most common animal in the park is the western fence lizard. They warm themselves on the exposed rocks and bare trail ground, wait patiently until I switch on my camera and aim it, and quickly scoot away into the vegetation.
But sometimes I am quicker.
Western Fence Lizard, Photo taken by Papa Quail
Edgewood County Park is small, but Nature-rich. The locals are very passionate about it: I could hear their pride when I talked with fellow hikers there. I could see it in their eyes. It is a well-loved park, and it shows. I love it too. What better reason is there to cross the bridge?

Later into spring I explored the eastern slopes of Edgewood Park. But this would come on a separate post. Now go out there and catch the tail of this gorgeous spring bloom before summer dries it up!

Many thanks to members of the California Wildlife Appreciators page for their help in identifying the brown elfin butterfly!


  1. I'm still amazed by the many nature trails California has to offer... and so close to major cities too.

    The Western Bluebird is magnificent.

    1. Thank you! This is really great to have Nature so close. I hope the cities don't sprawl anymore and that the open spaces remain.

  2. l o v e l y !!!
    I'm already in love with this place...
    the wooded area looks a lot like the areas in Mount Tam where we met the Calypso. I wonder if there are orchids there as well :-)

    1. :-) :-) :-)
      Yes! The upcoming post on this park will feature a spotted coralroot :-)

  3. maybe the brown butterfly is Brown Elfin?

    1. Yap, that's the one. Got help with it from the California Wildlife Appreciators.

  4. ...and I just showed this post to my mom who sends her love and says: Bravo!

    1. My love to your mother and the rest of your family!