Huddart County Park & Phleger Estate Park: 26 June 2004

Latitude: North 37° 26.522’

Longitude: West 122° 17.643’

Photos by Neil Mishalov

In 1850, the California Gold Rush was booming, and the demand for lumber to build San Francisco resulted in extensive logging operations in the bay area. Near the present borders of Huddart Park and the Phleger Estate, 5 sawmills operated between 1853 and 1860. Richard's sawmill, built in 1853, operated just outside the present park boundary west of Skyline Boulevard. From this mill, Richard's Road led down the mountain. Wagons loaded with lumber and drawn by teams of oxen traveled down the rough and steep dirt road towards Redwood City, where the lumber was barged to San Francisco. Today, Richard's Road Trail follows the route of this old road.

In August 1880, the Governor of Spanish California granted the land, later called Rancho Canada de Raymundo, to John Coppinger, an Irishman who had become a naturalized Mexican citizen. This 12,545-acre rancho contained the 973 acres, which are now Huddart Park.

Near HUDDART PARK is the historic Woodside Store built in 1853 by Dr. Orville Tripp. Tripp's store was at the hub of activity during this early logging boom since about 15 sawmills were within five miles of its door.

James Huddart was a wealthy San Francisco lumberman and long-time resident of Woodside. He was raised in an orphanage with his sister and apparently spent a rather miserable youth. It was his desire to do something with his holdings in San Mateo County, particularly for the youth in the area.

Before his death in 1935, Huddart deeded 900 acres of his property to the County of San Francisco with the provision that it would be accepted and developed into a public park. Due to water rights problems along Squealer Gulch Creek, San Francisco held it only two years. When the State of California also had problems with the water rights, the property was willed to the County of San Mateo, who has owned and operated the land as a public park since 1944.

In the hundred years since the Huddart Park area was logged, a new forest of redwoods and other trees have grown, covering much of the evidence of this early logging activity. However, still visible are large stumps of the virgin redwoods and "skid roads" over with the teams of oxen dragged logs to the sawmills.

Redwood logging trucks on Interstate 280 are rare sights these days, but while each flatbed piled high with the red giants gives pause for thought, from the 1850's until the turn of the century more than a dozen mills processed trees in local towns whose names still have meaning today. Redwood City and Woodside remind us of the logging that built these towns and felled most of the old-growth redwoods in what is now San Mateo County, including the Phleger Estate. Logging brings out powerful emotions in many, and while cutting trees may not seem synonymous with National Parks, it is just one integral part of what makes the Phleger Estate story so extraordinary.

Willard Whipple's steam sawmill harvested South Bay trees, converting redwoods to shingles at the site of today's Phleger mansion (now on private property bordering parkland). The Spring Valley Water Company, which would utilize much of the land between Woodside and Fort Funston for reservoirs and watersheds, built an executive estate on the site of the steam mill. After the City of San Francisco sued the Spring Valley Water Company to bring watershed lands into the public domain, Herman and Mary Elena Phleger bought the estate, fondly known as Mountain Meadow, in 1935. A powerful attorney with an intimidating presence and international reputation, Herman Phleger was so impressed by the redwoods of his new home that he began a lifelong commitment to conservation, which included directing the Save the Redwoods League. As peninsula development sprawled toward the hills, the ecological value of the once-isolated Phleger Estate grew, and environmentalists began to realize that this land was a vital link in a habitat corridor that ran from South San Francisco to San Jose.

In 1990, Mary Elena Phleger, widowed in 1984 and determined to keep her family's estate intact, offered Peninsula Open Space Trust the opportunity to make it so. After a concerted effort, the PHLEGER ESTATE turned from private property to public park early in 1995.

Huddart Park and the Phleger Estate are approximately 55 miles southwest from my home in Berkeley, California. This hike was organized by the Stanford Outing Club.

Some hike factoids and statistics: Time on the trail: 9:47 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. Number of hikers: 41. Distance covered: 9.66 miles. Total ascent: 1,870 feet. Maximum elevation: 2,000 feet. Route: Bay Trees Trail => Richards Road Trail => Crystal Springs Trail => Summit Springs Trail => Skyline Trail => Lonely Trail => Raymundo Trail => Miramontes Trail => Richards Road Trail => Bay Trees Trail Weather: Warm and sunny; cool and delightful in the shade!

Go here to acquire a map of the parks: HUDDART-PHLEGER MAP

All Images and Text Copyright © by Neil Mishalov


Topographic Route Map and Elevation Profile:

Data gathered with a Garmin GPS Map 60C

Topographic mapping program for Macintosh OSX by National Geographic

Satellite Photo Map with Route Superimposed:

TerraBrowser satellite mapping program for Macintosh OSX by Chimoosoft

GPS track converter by GPSBabel

Click on an image to see the full size picture

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Huddart Park, in San Mateo County, was the start of this Stanford Outing Club ramble. About 40 people participated in this hike The group gathers at the starting point in Huddart County Park Lauren Wye, the fearless leader of this hike, is facing the camera
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Wait! Is this an important cell phone call? The call is complete, and we continue on our way Hiking on Crystal Springs Trail in Huddart Park
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A quick stop in order for the large group of hikers to coalesce
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We hiked through deep forest as we ascended towards the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains above Woodside A trail marker. We are almost at the summit
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We meet 2 horseback riders going down the trail After we reached the ridgetop, we entered Phleger Estate, a newly (1995) acquired part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area park system. Phleger Estate is contiguous with Huddart Park. This is our lunch stop A lovely setting for a quiet lunch
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We are hiking down Lonely Trail in Phleger Estate Towering Redwood trees surround us
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We continue down Lonely Trail Fanni Molnar, from Budapest, Hungary, and her companion Sven, from Switzland, pause for the camera during this delightful ramble Trail marker in Phleger Estate
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We are now on the Raymundo Trail We are almost at the conclusion of another delightful hike organized by the Stanford Outing Club

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This page created on 29 June 2004, and all photographs copyright 2004, by Neil Mishalov