Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve has something for everyone. We are San Mateo County’s only natural preserve with extraordinary biodiversity and over ten miles of trails in just 467 acres. Minutes from downtown Redwood City, Edgewood includes precious native grasslands, oak woodlands, and chaparral habitats. The main ridge in the center of the preserve, known as Inspiration Heights, rises 800 feet in elevation, where hikers are rewarded with spectacular views of Skyline Ridge, Huddart Park, the San Andreas Fault Zone, Crystal Springs Reservoir, and the San Francisco Bay. Check out this short video from Bay Area Bountiful to learn more about what makes Edgewood special.
The spring wildflower season is one of the best times to visit Edgewood. Colorful spring wildflowers bloom throughout the preserve, and Friends of Edgewood docents lead free wildflower hikes each weekend from early March to late May. In fact, Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve is famous in the greater San Francisco Bay area as the place to see a wide variety of native wildflowers, but the importance and meaning of the preserve to the community goes beyond just viewing pretty flowers.
The most important driver of Edgewood’s extraordinary ecological diversity is its 160 acres of serpentine soils. These soils contain heavy metals, which can be toxic to plants, and low levels of the nutrients that plants need to grow. Over millennia, certain plants and animals have adapted to living in these thin, gravelly soils. Because most non-native species cannot tolerate serpentine, Edgewood’s serpentine grassland and chaparral communities form a natural preserve of native plants and animals that depend on them. Many of Edgewood’s rare species are serpentine endemics, meaning they’re limited to serpentine soils. The role these soils play at Edgewood is magnified by their role in California’s remarkable biodiversity. Serpentine outcrops cover just 1% of California, but they account for 12% of the state’s endemic species. Serpentine lands, like those at Edgewood, are unique and with protection will continue to offer refuge to a rich mosaic of California plants and animals. Learn more about the many plants found in Edgewood’s serpentine grasslands.
The geologic history of Edgewood can be traced back 40 million years ago to the convergence of the Farallon and North American tectonic plates. The Farallon plate was forced (subducted) under the North American plate. Rock from the Farallon Plate was scraped off and accreted to the western edge of the North American Plate. This created a mixture of rock blocks called a “geologic mélange,” which now underlies portions of the San Francisco Peninsula, including Edgewood. Along with serpentinite, you will find greenstone, greywacke, Whiskey Hill sandstone, radiolarian chert, and blueschist. It is an extraordinary variety of rock for an area less than one square mile. Learn more about the geologic mélange of Edgewood in this illustrated explanation, by Friends of Edgewood docent Jonathan Starr.
Flora and Fauna
Edgewood’s grasslands, chaparral, coastal scrub regions, foothill woodlands, and year-round seeps and springs support over 500 distinct plant species. Over a dozen rare or endangered plant species have been identified in the preserve, including the San Mateo thornmint, and white-rayed pentachaeta. In addition, the fragile Bay checkerspot butterfly, also a threatened species, makes its home in the unique habitat afforded by the serpentine grasslands. The various plant communities provide habitat for frogs, lizards, snakes, foxes, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, rabbits, deer, cougars and over 80 species of resident and migratory birds. Dusky-footed woodrats are a favorite at Edgewood and their impressive stick houses can be spotted in the undergrowth along the trails. Explore the Edgewood Field Guide to learn more about the plants and animals found in the preserve.
The human history of the region shows that Indigenous people were in the region 6,000 years ago. About 500 A.D., the original peoples of the bay area, collectively known as the Ohlone, lived throughout modern-day San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Two Ohlone archeological sites have been found nearby, one at Filoli Estates and one at Phleger Estates. In 1769, the Spanish exploring party of Gaspar de Portolà arrived in the region and began the era of colonization marked by the establishment of the California missions. During the land grant era of the late 1700s and early 1800s, all of Edgewood’s land was owned by Maria Soledad de Arguello. Throughout the mid-1800s, ranching and logging altered Edgewood’s landscape. Non-native grasses were introduced for cattle grazing and early roads, including Edgewood Road, were used for bringing redwood timber from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the port of Redwood City. From the 1890s to the 1960s, many colorful families lived on the land that would become Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve.
The History of Edgewood Park
Starting in 1967, various development projects were proposed for the land that is now Edgewood, including a state college, a recreational complex, a solar energy facility, and a golf course. When San Mateo County acquired the land in the early 1980s and approved plans to develop an 18-hole golf course, it sparked considerable debate in the community. A group of conservation-minded citizens recognized the extraordinary biodiversity at Edgewood and the importance of Edgewood’s rare serpentine grasslands and formed a coalition that lobbied to protect Edgewood from future development. It was not until the summer of 1993 that the County Board of Supervisors unanimously declared Edgewood County Park a Natural Preserve. In 1997, a completely revised Master Plan was adopted, recognizing protection, preservation, and restoration of Edgewood’s natural resources as the primary management objectives. Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve remains the only natural preserve in the San Mateo County park system. Its natural beauty is now enjoyed by well over 50,000 visitors every year.
Friends of Edgewood
Friends of Edgewood was founded in 1993 as an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve. The mission of Friends of Edgewood is to protect Edgewood’s extraordinary biodiversity and foster lasting connections with Edgewood and the larger natural world. Friends of Edgewood volunteers engage in land and wildlife stewardship, nature education, and interpretive programs that support Edgewood. Learn more about Friends of Edgewood.
Friends of Edgewood provides important habitat management services including restoring Edgewood’s endangered species and fighting the threat of invasive non-native grasses. Project 467 is an ambitious habitat management project aimed at redoubling Friends of Edgewood’s efforts to eliminate or suppress invasive plants and restore native ecosystems across Edgewood’s 467 acres. It consists of four components: Weed Warriors program, Bay checkerspot butterfly restoration, thornmint and pentachaeta preservation, and the new Green Grass project. Learn more about Project 467 and how you can help protect the extraordinary biodiversity at Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve.
Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve is managed by the San Mateo County Parks department. Friends of Edgewood volunteers host the Bill and Jean Lane Education Center, open year-round from 10am to 2pm on weekend days.