Wunderlich County Park is for lovers of horses and history

Before you get to the park, you’ll notice that the people of Woodside love horses. You may see advertisements for the Woodside Area Horse Owners Association (WHOA), horse crossing signs, and multimillion-dollar plots of land for stables. In the fall, Woodside hosts an event called “Horse Day.” For equestrians looking to ride a trail, Wunderlich County Park has been home to horses for more than
a century.

Nestled among 942 acres of mixed evergreen, chaparral, meadows, and red coast woodlands, Folger Estate Historic Site was originally built in 1905 for coffee magnate James Folger. Among the buildings are the elegant and well-kept stables that housed the family’s horses and, later, those of Martin and Muriel Wonderlich, who purchased the property in 1955. Spread over three acres, this group of buildings is now listed on the National Register of Historic premises were donated to San Mateo County in 1974. Today the stables offer beginner riding tours, horseback riding lessons, and pony rides, as well as riding day camps for children and boarding services for horse owners.

Lawns in Wunderlich County Park. (Photo by Eugene Kim, CC BY 2.0)

However, the most popular way to explore Wunderlich is on foot. There are miles of unpaved trails and roads covered in a dense jungle of oak, Pacific fauna, and redwoods shorelines bisected by Alameq Creek. The creek is one of several tributaries that flow into Searsville Lake in Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and eventually into San Francisco Bay. Riders on horseback are allowed on most trails and always have the right of way. “The trails are regularly checked and assessed especially during the rainy season,” San Mateo County Communications Specialist Carla Shoof said in an email. “Tways may be closed for equestrian use when the trails need to dry out to ensure water run-off and prevent erosion.”

Most of the park is shaded, but if you follow the aptly named Meadow Trail, the trees eventually thin out, revealing a wide, sunny area called the Plains. During spring, look for white globe lilies, warrior’s column, and Douglas iris along the way. At 1,430 feet, there’s a great view of the southern part of San Francisco Bay, or sometimes, the top of a thin white blanket of mist.

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lanes: A trip to visit the Plains is a 4.2-mile loop of Folger’s Stables.

The graphic: Horseback riding and a local history museum open on weekends.

Access and facilities: The museum, bathrooms and car park are accessible by the ADA. Dogs, bikes or motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails.

Crossing: $6 car park, 4040 Woodside Rd, Woodside. There is no public transportation.

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