Hike, horseback ride or drive through Huddart Park’s expansive 974 acres of redwood trees and you’ll quickly see why this park has become a peaceful sanctuary for both San Mateo County residents and wildlife alike. Located just off of Kings Mountain Road in the town of Woodside, Huddart Park features a layout of group picnic areas, three campgrounds, and 24 miles of trails that provide modern amenities (like restrooms with indoor plumbing, water fountains, and barbeque grills), while preserving the integrity and peacefulness of the surrounding nature.
Huddart Park features group and private picnic areas scattered throughout, numerous places to hike with breathtaking views, playgrounds for the little ones, sand volleyball courts and more. Cars are permitted to drive on designated roads and ample parking is offered throughout the park. Horseback riding, camping, field trips, archery and amphitheater reservations are available by calling 650-363-4021.
Huddart Park is nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are famous for their magnificent and humble redwood, oak, and Douglas fir trees, as well as deep shady canyons. Visitors say this is one of the best places to hike in San Mateo County, as trail paths vary from soil to gravel to pavement, and range from 550 to 2000 feet in elevation. Each route offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Animals commonly spotted at Huddart Park include black-tailed deer, bobcats, brush rabbits, coyotes, western gray squirrels, opossums, raccoons and fence lizards. Birdwatchers are in for a treat at Huddart, too, as the park attracts everything from acorn woodpeckers, stellar jays, California quails, and chestnut-backed chickadees, to great horned owls, red tailed hawks, turkey vultures and more.
Less commonly spotted at Huddart are mountain lions, yet visitors are reminded via park signage to follow proper protocol if a mountain lion is seen. Do not approach the mountain lion or make sudden movements; do stand tall and try to appear larger and shout; and do pick up children so you appear to be one big person. Poison oak and rattlesnakes are also found at Huddart Park, but are not a major concern as long as you wear closed-toe shoes and stay on your designated trail.
Huddart Park, long before it had this name, was once home to several Native American tribes who thrived off of the abundant local resources this land had to offer. As hunters and gatherers living side-by-side with mountain lions, deer, coyotes, grizzly bears (now extinct at Huddart Park) and plush vegetation, these tribes thrived for centuries until Spanish missionaries arrived in the mid-1800s with tuberculosis and smallpox. Sadly, many Native Americans fell victim to these diseases, and those who survived were likely converted by 1840.
Flash forward to 1850 and the California Gold Rush is in full-steam, placing huge demand on the Bay Area to produce lumber for building. Five sawmills opened on the outskirts of the park’s land, where they remained in full operation between 1853 and 1860 providing lumber to San Francisco. If you hike Huddart Park’s “Richards Road Trail,” you can actually follow the remnants of “skid roads,” tracks made for the team of oxen who muscled lumber to Redwood City where it was then barged to San Francisco.
The property was ultimately acquired by James M. Huddart, a longtime lumberman and resident of Woodside, who grew up in a local orphanage. As a result of his difficult youth, Huddart became passionate about providing a space that would benefit the local children. Before his death in 1935, Huddart deeded 900 acres of his property to the county (first to San Francisco County and eventually passed to the County of San Mateo) to be developed into a public park. Huddart Park officially opened in 1948 and although it has been well over a century since this land was logged, there are still large redwood stumps that can be seen at the park.