The Phleger Estate is a lovely park that is the southernmost tract of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area managed by the National Park Service. It’s one of my most frequented trail running destinations. The only way to reach the park is by trail through Huddart County Park along Richard’s Road Trail. Six miles of trail are located within 1,232 acres of redwood, fir, and oak woodland with a plethora of loop options connecting with Huddart County Park and Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. The Mirramontes Trail is the only access trail from Huddart Park and winds along seasonal West Union Creek, which is picturesque from the winter through early summer. The mature second growth forest is pleasant with redwood sorrel in areas and a lush ambiance. Further in, West Union Creek splits into two gulches, each with a trail following alongside. The Mount Redondo Trail is the shorter, steeper option and is quite technical. Meanwhile, the Raymundo Trail is longer and more gradual. Both trails meet again midway up the hill at the intersection with the Lonely Trail. The Lonely Trail is aptly named as it is rarely used and provides a tranquil feeling in the forest. The trail heads uphill towards Skyline Blvd. with a steep and exhilarating finish. There are couple benches along the way to sit and reflect.
The history of the Phleger Estate lands is very interesting. West Union Creek used to have a steam mill operated by Willard Whipple between 1852 to 1855. Evidence of the lower and upper mills remain to this day. During this time the redwood forests were logged to support the skyrocketing growth of San Francisco. Years after the last trees were logged, Herman Phleger, a venerable San Francisco lawyer, purchased the 1,257 acre property in 1931 and built a country estate. Phleger called his estate the “Mountain Meadows” and loved the redwoods on his land so much that he became one of the early supporters of the Save the Redwoods League. In 1994, his wife, Mary Phleger, sold the estate to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which then transferred the property to the National Park Service. The estate remains a private residence, but the trails and forest are open to the public to enjoy. What remains today is a mature and diverse forest with wildlife and great recreation opportunities for hikers, trail runners, and equestrians. One of the most unique features of this park is it’s trail signs, which have a horseback riding lion on top. Here are some photos from a recent run through Phleger.