Pulgas Ridge Open Space is my new favourite run. I originally shied away from these trails because of frequent mountain lion sightings; but reconsidered when I discovered it was one of the only off-leash parks in Silicon Valley and because of this is a very active little place.

Also, unlike other preserves and parks, this one closes half an hour after dusk, which means you’re not playing the what-exactly-does-sunset-mean-to-a-ranger game and worrying that your car will get trapped in the parking lot when the gate closes at sunset.

These trails have a history. The land was once used by the San Francisco Department of Public Health to house a tuberculosis sanitarium (1927). Known as the Hassler Health Home by 1931 it was in use as a sanatorium until 1972. The land was eventually purchased by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) and converted into a preserve. The hospital buildings were torn down in the 80s though some of the old foundations and stone walls still exist along the Hassler Trail.

The MROSD is attempting to restore the park to its original state and is currently removing 12 extremely large eucalyptus trees along the paved portion of Hassler Trail. I’m not sure I understand the reason for the tree removal (weren’t eucalyptus trees brought to California in the 1850s to help with the deteriorating landscape) but the removal area now looks like a scene from the Lorax. A letter explaining the decision is stapled to the fence as you enter the off leash area.

This is a short and quick run but don’t let the distance fool you: most of the trail is a straight uphill/downhill combination. Imagine running on a triangle.

The run (distances are from the trail map):

  • Head from Edmonds Road (right side of parking lot) past the church and along Cordilleras Trail (.6 miles).
  • For a short run, once in the trees veer left onto the Polly Geraci Trail (1 mile).
  • For a longer run, veer right onto the Hassler and Dusky-Footed Woodrat Trail (2.4 miles).
  • Pass through a gate into the off leash area and either head towards the Blue Oak Trail (.9 miles) or take the Dick Bishop Trail (1.1 miles) towards Blue Oak.
  • At the end of the Blue Oak Trail is the parking lot.

In a nutshell:
The short run is 2.5 miles / 4 km.
The long run is 4.1 miles / 6.6 km.