Sugarloaf Hill

Mon, Feb 20, 2012
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Sugarloaf Hill is the only publicly owned hill in all of San Mateo. Located as the centerpiece of Laurelwood Park, it is the only city park of any size other than Coyote Point along SF Bay. There are signed trails that run around the base of the hill on the north, west and south sides that seem to attract most of the visitor attention along the shady, tree-lined creeks at the periphery. The majority of the park appears to be left in an unmaintained, natural condition. Seven different trails lead to the summit, but none seem to be maintained or easy to navigate, following steeply up the radiating ridgelines from the top.

I had first noticed the undeveloped hilltop in the fall when I was in the area for my son's cross-country race at nearby Hallmark Park. Now in the area for my daughter's volleyball tournament at the San Mateo Convention Center, I set out to visit Sugarloaf Hill during a break in the action (I just can't sit and watch all that much volleyball in one sitting). Even with a GPS, finding the park was no easy feat as it seems to be almost completely hidden without signs until you are at one of the entrances. I had taken the wrong road on an adjacent hillside, but found a gate I could enter through from the neighborhood, dropping steeply down to the base of the mountain. Here on the north side, I found a small network of signed trails though none of the good ones went to the summit. I found one of the unmarked, rutted paths coming down on this same side and decided to take it to the top. I had to push my mountain bike nearly to the summit, the trail too rutted and steep to attempt riding. Even on the way down I found the trail too steep to ride. But the grassy top had an open view and a modestly rural feel to it. I had the place to myself to take in views. As luck would have it, I followed a trail down the northeast side that led to a dead-end only a hundred feet or so above homes encroaching on the hillside. There was no way to push the bike through the thick brush and I had no choice but to go back uphill and find another way down. I managed to find my way to pavement on the east side of the park, but the road I thought would follow the creek down towards the bay did not go through - seems I was up against the San Mateo/Belmont city boundaries and they didn't seem to care if the roads met up or not. I ended up biking up a second hill to the east nearly as high as Sugarloaf before I could find my way back to San Mateo. The roads were incredibly steep and twisted - no fun being a kid with a bike in these parts. At least I got a workout...


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This page last updated: Mon Feb 20 16:21:15 2012
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