What to See on Crystal Springs Trail
The Peninsula Watershed
This is a highly scenic area that features various habitats, from old growth Douglas-fir forests to chaparrals and wetlands. The trail parallels the Coastal Range ridge, the backbone of the Peninsula, and traces the east side of Crystal Springs and San Andreas Reservoirs, which fill the rift along the San Andreas fault line and provide water to San Francisco and the Peninsula.
Ducks, hawks and numerous small birds can be seen overhead or in the surrounding oaks and madrones. Over 180 different species of birds have been identified. Deer, squirrels, bobcats, coyotes and rattlesnakes are often spotted. Recent sightings of mountain lions have also occurred. The pristine Watershed area surrounding the trail is recognized by the California Department of Fish and Game as a Fish Wildlife Refuge and is considered a Biosphere Reserve.
Prepare for a safe and enjoyable visit to Crystal Springs Regional Trail and other San Mateo County Parks by being aware of your natural environment.
Midway along the Sawyer Camp segment of the trail you will find the Jepson Laurel, a tree that has been established to be over 600 years old and is now the oldest and largest known Laurel in California. In 1923, this tree was named in honor of Willis Linn Jepson, a noted California botanist. At that time, there was only one larger Laurel known in the state. It grew along the Russian River near Cloverdale, but was cut down because it shaded too much hayfield. The Jepson Laurel was finally fenced to protect it from soil compaction, which could conceivably weaken its roots. The San Francisco Water Department, on whose property it is located, has assumed the tree's preservation and protection. In 1981, the San Mateo County Parks Department, on permit from the Water Department, opened the area near the tree and constructed a new picnic area. California Laurel (Umbellularia californica), also known as Bay Tree, Pepperwood, or Oregon Myrtle, has a wood, which is heavy, hard, fine-grained, and exceptionally strong.
The Pulgas Water Temple is a stone structure inspired by classical Greek and Roman architecture, featuring Corinthian capitals and fluted columns, beside which is a tree-lined reflecting pool.The City of San Francisco built it to celebrate the achievement that brought water from Hetch Hetchy to the Bay Area. Learn more about the Pulgas Water Temple at the SFPUC web site.
San Mateo County Parks and Other Destinations
The trail connects with a number of San Mateo County Parks: Junipero Serra Park, Edgewood Park, and Huddart Park, which have scenic trail systems of their own. Near its southern end the trail also passes by the Filoli Center, and the Phleger Estate.