Located less than five miles off Interstate 280 in the town of Woodside, Wunderlich Park is a hidden gem for San Mateo County residents and visitors alike. With miles of lush forested areas, this rural park features seven scenic and clearly-marked trails shared by hikers, runners and equestrians. As such, this park is an ideal place for families, couples, friends and colleagues to escape into nature for some exercise, sightseeing and tranquility. Just remember that restroom facilities and picnic tables are only located by the parking lot, so be sure to take advantage of those areas before you start your journey.
With 17 miles of public riding trails accessible from the designated horse trailer parking lot, Wunderlich Park attracts horse owners from all over the San Mateo County and beyond. Boarding and horse care are available on-site at Folger Stable equestrian center, as well as a groomed sand riding arena suitable for all disciplines including dressage, jumping and cutting.
A walk through Wunderlich Park connects you with nature in a way that still feels greatly untouched by modern civilization. Dirt and gravel paths lead you up 490 feet in elevation and through groves of second-growth redwood and oak trees, but at the lowest level of the park, you will also find California laurel. The Alambique Creek crosses through the park, which during certain times of the year, reveal a number of natural springs.
Birds that are seen at Wunderlich Park include wrentits, acorn woodpeckers, chickadees, towhees, scrub jays and Steller’s jays. Hikers and riders may see several types of wildlife, as well, from black-tailed deer, racoons, squirrels, and brush rabbits, to lizards, bobcats, coyotes and gray foxes. Signage is in place explaining what to do if you see a mountain lion, but sightings are few and far between during park hours.
In the 1840s, Wunderlich Park was called Rancho Cañada de Raymundo and was granted to prominent settler John Coppinger, who was one of the first non-Hispanic Europeans to live on the Peninsula. Shortly after, it was deeded to Charles Brown, and 30 years later, it was purchased by Simon Jones, who named it Hazel Wood Farm. Jones had Chinese laborers clear brush and trees to make room for a working ranch. He planted a vineyard and fruit orchards and introduced many non-native trees such as Monterey cypress, olive and eucalyptus trees.
When Jones died in 1890, his son sold the property to San Francisco coffee entrepreneur James A. Folger II (yes, “Folger” of the Folger Coffee Company), who had a much different vision for the land. He turned it into a recreation area equipped with wagon trails, carriage rides and campgrounds. Folger’s vision for public recreation stayed intact as contractor Martin Wunderlich gained ownership in 1956, and in 1974, he graciously deeded 942 acres to the County of San Mateo to use as an open park space. Most of the trails you see as you hike Wunderlich Park today were not put in place until the county gained ownership.
A true testament to history, today’s fully-renovated Wunderlich Park houses Folger’s Stable circa 1905 (restored in 2010), which was co-designed by Henry Schulze and Arthur Brown, Jr., who later went on to design Coit Tower, the War Memorial Opera House and City Hall in San Francisco. A number of other historic, protected structures at Wunderlich Park include the Carriage House, stone walls lining the roads and grounds, the blacksmith barn, and the cold house.