Butterfly habitat from ridgeview

Learn About Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve

Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve has something for everyone. We are San Mateo County’s only natural preserve with over ten miles of trails and a surprising amount of biodiversity in just 467 acres. Minutes from downtown Redwood City, the park includes precious native grasslands, oak woodlands, and chaparral habitats. The main ridge in the center of the park 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 the park we love.

Spring Wildflowers

The spring wildflower season is one of the best times to visit Edgewood. Fields of colorful wildflowers bloom throughout the park and Friends of Edgewood docents lead free wildflower walks each weekend from mid-March to early June. In fact, Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve is famous in the greater San Francisco Bay area as the place to see fields of spring wildflowers, but the importance and meaning of the preserve to the community goes beyond just viewing pretty flowers.

Serpentine Soils

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 the 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 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.

Natural and Human History

In fact, the geologic history of Edgewood can be traced back 35 million years ago to the convergence of the Farallon and North American tectonic plates. The Farallon plate was forced under the American plate and large amounts of rock were left behind, including the very rare serpentinite rock found at Edgewood.

The human history of the region shows that hunters were in the region 6,000 years ago. About 500 A.D., Ohlone speaking peoples came to the bay area. 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 marched through the region and made the first Ohlone-Spanish encounter.

Flora and Fauna

Edgewood Park’s grasslands, chaparral, coastal scrub regions, foothill woodlands, and year-round seeps and springs support over 500 distinct plant species. Twelve rare or endangered plant species have been identified in the park, 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 also provide habitat for frogs, lizards, snakes, foxes, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, rabbits, deer, and over 80 species of resident and migratory birds. Dusky-footed woodrats are a park favorite and their impressive stick houses can be spotted in the undergrowth along the trails.

Project 467

The Friends of Edgewood provides important habitat management services including restoring these 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 support the park you love.

The History of Edgewood Park

Starting in 1967, various development projects were proposed for the land that is now Edgewood Park, 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 1980’s and approved plans to develop an 18-hole golf course, it sparked considerable debate in the community. It was not until the summer of 1993 that the County Board of Supervisors unanimously declared Edgewood County Park a Natural Preserve, protecting it from future development. 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 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.

Park Management

Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve is managed by the San Mateo County Parks department. The Friends of Edgewood is the all-volunteer, donor-funded, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the rare ecology of Edgewood Park and educating the public about this special place.