During the hot summer months, I’m always seeking out shady trails that offer some shelter from the sun’s rays.
Last weekend I found what I was looking for at Wunderlich County Park in Woodside. In addition to the hiking, I was also able to check out the newly restored Folger Estate Stables.
Wunderlich County Park is located off Highway 84, just a few miles west of the I-280. That makes it easy to access from anywhere on the busy Peninsula, but the trails feel wild and remote. It’s often overshadowed by its popular neighbor Huddart County Park, which is right up the road and offers more amenities, but can also be crowded in the summer.
On the weekends it’s wise to arrive early to find a spot to park in the small free lot, but there is roadside parking available on the highway. Beyond the stables, this park has little in the way of amenities, with one lonely picnic table which sits next to the sole portable toilet. But what the park lacks in frills it makes up for in charm, with its lovely meadows and challenging trails that wind through the diverse mix of redwoods, oaks and eucalyptus groves.
The Folgers, of coffee fame, owned a home on this land at the turn of the 20th century and used it as a getaway from their life in the city. The stable renovations were completed in 2010 and now offer a glimpse into life in the area 100 years ago. Portions of these working stables are open to visitors, and a small self-guided walking tour map is available offering historic details of the stable and other buildings on the grounds.
The property was purchased from the Folgers by Martin Wunderlich in the 1950s, who then donated it to the county in 1974 to create the sprawling 900-acre park that we enjoy today.
The fact that this is a working stable adds to the charm of the place. Many of the park’s trails are horse-friendly (no mountain bikes allowed), and boarding and riding facilities are available through a private operator. For more information, you can call 650-851-1210.
I headed up the Alambique trail, a 5.1 mile hike winding up to Skyline Boulevard. It’s a steep but gradual climb, shaded by the looming redwoods, oaks, madrones, and the fragrant California laurels. Instead of going all the way up, I zigzagged my way through the trails to The Meadows at a 1430 ft. elevation. There I was able to take in the views and watch a noisy osprey circle the sky looking for his lunch.
I spotted a total of ten deer on my 2.5 hour walk, including two fawns that still had their spots. They didn’t seem to mind the sight of a few hikers sharing their quiet trails. Wunderlich is the kind of park where you just might be able to count more birds and animals than other hikers, and that can be a nice change of pace.