Sawyer Camp Trail – Crystal Springs

The Sawyer Camp Trail is a popular 6 mile trail in the San Andreas rift valley south of San Francisco in the Crystal Springs Watershed. According to the San Mateo Parks Department, approximately 300,000 visitors use the trail every year making it the most popular trail in the county. The trail is a multi-use paved path with a generous soft shoulder on both sides that you can use almost the entire way. While you are bound to find others using this trail, especially on the weekends, most of the traffic is within the first 2 miles north of Crystal Springs Dam. The middle section between Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir and San Andreas Lake is often very quite and the northern terminus at Hillcrest Blvd next to Interstate 280 is a less used starting point. There are mile markers posted every half mile to facilitate fartleks and keep the pace honest.

Sawyer Camp Trail near mile 4

Sawyer Camp Trail near mile 4

Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir with Black Mountain in the distance

Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir with Sierra Morena/Kings Mountain in the distance

Heading north from Crystal Springs Dam, the first three miles are along the shores of Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir with views of the forested Sawyer Ridge across the lake and the San Andreas rift valley to the south to Sierra Morena and Kings Mountain. The path is pretty flat and fast. At 3.5 miles, restroom facilities and a picnic area is reached. The next mile is a pleasant section in the forest with rolling hills. At 4.75 miles, the first real hill is reached which takes you to the San Andreas Lake dam. A flat stretch on top of the dam is followed by the last 0.75 miles of gradual climbing to the Hillcrest parking lot. Restrooms and water fountains are located at the ends of the trail, but as of this writing, there is currently no water available in between.

Great spot for a tempo run

Great spot for a tempo run

Forested Sawyer Ridge

Forested Sawyer Ridge

Lower Crystal Springs and Sawyer Ridge

Lower Crystal Springs and Sawyer Ridge

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