The “Woodside Marathon” is a giant loop of some of the best trails in the Bay Area encompassing four parks – Huddart Park, Phleger Estate GGNRA, Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space, and Wunderlich Park. This gorgeous area of parkland north of Sky Londa encompasses over 16,000 acres. The route essentially combines two loops, the 17 mile Huddart-Wunderlich Loop and the 17.5 mile Huddart-Phleger-Purisima Loop. The loop is mostly soft single track under a forest canopy, but also includes open areas with gorgeous views to the Pacific Ocean, Half Moon Bay, and the South Bay Area. There are lush redwood-filled canyons with cascading streams and miles of solitude in beautiful forest. The loop also features a variety of terrain, from challenging hill climbs to rolling tempo to fast downhills. There are a few variations, but the route described is around 25-25.5 miles making it fairly close to a true marathon distance. There are two major hill climbs with total elevation gain over 4,000 feet.
The route starts by entering Huddart County park via Greer Road and running Richards Road Trail along West Union Creek to the entrance of Phleger Estate and the Mirramontes Trail. The Mirramontes Trail is extremely pretty traveling right beside West Union Creek in a lush setting of redwoods. At the intersection with the Mount Redondo and Raymundo Trails, I usually take the shorter Mount Redondo Trail, but the Raymundo Trail is a nice 0.8 mile addition. The Mount Redondo Trail climbs steeply to the intersection with the Lonely Trail, which is aptly named since it is infrequently used. The Lonely trail continues a moderate climb, passing by a couple benches, and finishing with an exhilarating climb up to Skyline Blvd. which is steep in sections. At the top of the Lonely Trail, a side trail leads to the Kings Mountain Fire Station and a nice informal trail heads to the right and follows just to the east of Skyline Blvd. (Hwy 35) with some ups and downs as it travels north. Eventually the trail ends and you can crossover to more informal trails on the west side of Skyline Blvd. or run along the road a short section to the entrance of Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.
At Purisima, you join the Bay Area Ridge Trail and follow it all the way until you reach Wunderlich County Park. The ridge trail switchbacks down through a nice douglas fir forest before taking the Harkins Ridge Trail with spectacular views of the San Mateo coastline and Half Moon Bay. After a left turn on the Craig Britton Trail (formerly the Soda Gulch Trail), the views continue as you descend toward Purisima Creek. Eventually, you descend into a different world of redwoods, sorrel, ferns, and lushness as the trail traverses down to pristine Soda Gulch. The next section is relatively flat single track with superb trail running in redwoods. This is one of my favorite sections of trail anywhere. As previously mentioned, the trail was recently renamed the Craig Britton Trail and a new stone bench honors Craig Britton near the end of the trail by the Purisima Creek Trail junction. The climb up the Purisima Creek Trail back to Skyline Blvd. is the second major hill climb along the route gaining over 1,000 feet in 1.8 miles. It is all runnable, but a slog nonetheless.
When Skyline Blvd. is reached, most of the hill climbing is finished. Cross Skyline Blvd. and take the Skyline Trail crossing over Kings Mountain Road in a half mile. The next 5.7 miles after crossing Kings Mountain Road to Wunderlich park feature more awesome single track running under a forest canopy. At Wunderlich there are several other options, but I prefer to descend the nicely graded Alambique Trail and then more great single track on the Bear Gulch Trail all the way down to the Wunderlich Parking lot. Once at the bottom, it’s less than two miles along Woodside Rd. (Hwy 84) and then Tripp Rd. back to the parking area along Kings Mountain Rd.