You’re not going to need a lot of sunscreen at Huddart County Park. Not on the trails, that is.

The park has several open areas for picnics, volleyball and garden-variety goofing off. It also has sites that can be reserved for wedding receptions, 50th-anniversary parties and IPO parties for undeserving dot-commers, which makes it the sort of full-service local park you don’t associate with plush hiking. Lots of screaming kid and car motor sounds.

Yesterday I even heard some guys bellowing in an unfamiliar foreign language — either they were having a pep rally for their favorite soccer team or screwing up the nerve to overthrow the government. Either way, I was motivated to walk away from them.

Just as I expected, 15 minutes of hiking was all I needed to get away from the racket of civilization and into the sound of redwood and madrone forest. There’s nothing spectacular about the hiking at Huddart — I didn’t see any waterfalls, rock formations or jaw-dropping vistas — but the trails are well-maintained and properly graded, and the trail signs make sense (mostly). And it’s all shaded.

It’s easy to build a nice seven-mile loop that climbs up to Skyline Boulevard and returns. I didn’t make it over to the Phleger Estate; I saved that one for a future hike. There are ample opportunities for long treks by wandering over to Wunderlich County Park (about five miles beyond the park) or by crossing Skyline Boulevard into Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.

There are a couple easy nature walks near the park HQ that might be worth a look, though they seemed a bit too close to all the outdoor-party hangouts.

My hike started at the Zwierlein Trail Head, took a left turn at the Crystal Springs Trail, another left on the Dean Trail, another left on the Chinquapin Trail, which ran all the way to Skyline Boulevard. From there I returned on the Summit Spring and Crystal Springs trails — all I had to do was follow signs back to the trail head.

Let’s check out some pictures:

Interesting plant

This plant was one of the first things I saw on the Crystal Springs Trail. Can anybody identify it?


I also saw many irises.

Dean Trail

A jogger passes on the Dean Trail, which is mostly mixed forest. There’s more redwood happening on the Chinquapin Trail, which is the nicest stretch I hiked on.

Broken tree

An experiment photographing a broken tree up close.

Another broken tree

And another one: I used the macro mode for the close-ups, which creates a cool blur for the background.

Out of the redwoods, into the madrone

There’s an area on the return, downhill part of the hiker where the woods abruptly switch from redwood to oak and madrone. The redwood sections are more elegant, I suppose, but I enjoy the tangled chaos of sections like this one along the Crystal Springs Trail.

Bridge closed

Dull picture, but perhaps interesting story: trail signs mentioned this bridge on the Crystal Springs Trail was closed to equestrians. Note the left rail is made of new wood: did a horse slip and fall through the old one? Hmm.

Fence, redwoods

Crystal Springs Trail on the way back to the trail head.

Noisy squirrel

This gray squirrel was making a squawking sound that I thought at first must be a bird. This is the second one I saw making that noise. I see tons of squirrels in the wilderness but they’re usually pretty quiet.

Something growing out of a tree

Some fern kind of thing growing out of the side of a tree.

More of those cool buds

Another of those mystery blooms.

So that’s a first look at Huddart. I’ll probably head back up there next weekend and see what I missed on this outing.