From the beginning.....

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Perfect Trail run, but it's trying to kill me.

If you live in the Bay area, you've inevitably driven north or south on Interstate 280 at some point. Somewhere between Daly City and San Jose lies one of my (so far) all time favorite places to run. It's visible from the freeway, both northbound and southbound, and it's called Edgewood Park.

The area around the park is probably more popular with cyclists, so you will see a ton of people riding around on the long stretches of road paralleling 280, sometimes criss-crossing  under the freeway. I just love the trail though.

Why is it perfect?

I consider Edgewood the perfect trail run for several reasons:
  • the trail is local to me, and accessible to most in the bay area
  • when you are on the trail, for the most part, you are taken away from civilization
  • there is enough elevation change and variety on the trails to allow you to make it as difficult or easy as you want
  • The distance is short, but extending or varying the distance is easy
  • there is frequent traffic on the trail, so if you are in distress, you can either get help from a fellow trail visitor, or use your cell phone and get help on the way quickly
  • the people are friendly and courteous
  • the scenery is terrific
  • the signage and trails are well maintained
  • I always feel good when I am done (except this one time.....)

Trail Etiquette (taken from San Mateo Parks website HERE):

This is an example of me learning things. There is something called Sudden Oak Death (no, not related to my poison oak, thankfully).
  1. Check with Park Rangers for current information on trail conditions, and to obtain more detailed, up-to-date maps of the specific parks.
  2. On those trails with considerable horse rider usage, runners and hikers should observe a basic rule of conflicting usage. The horses have the right-of-way! Foot Traffic should always stop and stand quietly off the trail until the horse passes. Failure to observe this rule can endanger not only the hiker and runner, but also the horse rider.
  3. Pets are not allowed in any County Park/Trail.
  4. Observe any trail closure signs.
  5. The trails on this site are: a) trails which are safe. Most trails have been recently rebuilt to a standard 4' width and maximum 10% grade; b) trails which are scenic. The variety ranges from redwood forest, to chaparral, to grassy ridges; c) trails of varied distance.
  6. Always respect the plant and animal life found in these unique communities.
  7. Educate yourself on Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Learn more.
Friends of Edgewood
Photo Courtesy of:

I decided to write this blog a few days ago when I realized that in my fairly limited trail running experience, I consider Edgewood the perfect trail run. This pressed me to learn more about the trail, as I didn't simply want to post: I love the trail, it's awesome.

I want to encourage people to try the trail out, whether you are running, walking, jogging, or riding horses. Yep, it's an equestrian trail as well. I know this already, as I've encountered a lot of horse poop in my experiences out there.

Now that I've fallen for the trail (see below for details on that), I want to learn more about the history and share it with my faithful reader(s?).

Turns out, coincidentally, this is '2013 - The Year of Edgewood'. Lucky me! At the least, I hope to get know the park better, appreciate it more, and get other people to experience it and enjoy it the way I do.

More about the trail:
  • 467 acres
  • 78 Plant famillies
  • 70 bird species
  • protected species including the bay checkerspot butterfly
  • well known spring flower blooms
Oh, you ask, how do I know the trail trying to kill me? Well, in my last two runs out there, I've tweaked my ankle, tripped and fallen, gained a painful blister, and the coup de gras: a rather unpleasant case of poison oak.

The ankle is fine, the bloody scrapes and bruising on my knee has healed, the blister is gone. The poison oak? Not only did it take more than two days to show up, it's been slowly taking over my legs. Keep in mind that I didn't even SEE any plants on the ground where I fell, but the affected area is very clearly the area of impact on the ground. I haven't had poison oak since I was a kid, and this is much more unpleasant than I remember it being then. Also, when it happened then, it was another 100 degree summer in Eugene, living in a house with no AC.

Really, it's just (very) annoying and looks pretty gross. I can still run, and did just that yesterday, on the same trail. Yep, I've made my peace with it, and am moving on (though I'm keeping a better eye out for roots and rocks on the trail...for sure). I'm sure it could be much worse.

My advice for running or hiking the trail?

The trail can be a great workout, bring a snack or snacks, and some water to replenish your energy and keep you hydrated. Depending on where you start, there is a drinking fountain (if I remember correctly) and bathrooms at Old Stage Day Camp.

Watch out for horse poop. The piles tend to be fairly significant.

If you can do it comfortably, cover your legs and arms. As I've recently discovered, there is some poison oak out there. I've successfully avoided it 11 out of 12 trips, so you may not have to worry about it, but I'd stay on the trail (and try not falling half way off of it).

Bring some handy wipes, or something to wipe your skin off if you do fall. I have recently learned that if you can get your skin clean relatively soon after you fall, you can help reduce the amount of exposure to poison oak oil, just be sure to avoid spreading it around.

Obviously, wear comfortable shoes. I've ran the trail several times, but none more comfortably than in my trail running shoes. If you're hiking, just make sure your shoes have good tread on them, and some decent support. I wouldn't necessarily advise sandals unless you are used to wearing them out like that.

If you are hiking, bring a camera. Also, bring some pictures (maybe on your smartphone) of the types of animals, insects, plants and trees you might see. I've never stopped long enough to really check these things out, which I hope to change soon.

From a timing standpoint, plan for it to take a couple of hours. I run the 4.5 miles at an average pace of 9 minute miles, sometimes slower. If you deviate from the main trail to get to the summit, for example, just keep in mind that it will take you a while to get back to where you parked.

If you are hiking, its probably best to park at Old Stage Day Camp, this helps you avoid the .6 mile walk/hike up from the intersection of Canada road and Edgewood road. I like that .6 miles as a runner because it gets me warmed up for the trail.

Well, it's just about spring time, about time to get out on the trail huh?

1 comment:

  1. It is a fun place to run, I've done a bunch of loops through the park, since it's on my way to/from work (and I've also taken a couple good spills on those trails.) I've extended beyond the park down Edgewood Road below 280 to the Crystal Springs Trail up into Huddart park also, which is pretty nice. Another interesting extension is to cross the street and go up into Pulgas Ridge OSP. Enjoy the trails!