Turn back in time with me.
Imagine the Peninsula and South Bay without Highways 1, 280 and 101, without the web of surface streets stretching between Skyline and the Bay. Picture instead a network of trails crisscrossing the ridges and valleys, linking the diverse tribes of the Ohlone people.
For nearly 10,000 years, generations of Ohlone walked these trails, following the path of least resistance to move with the seasons and trade with other groups from around central California and beyond.
Now fast forward to 1769, the year Don Gaspar de Portolá set off from Baja California to establish a Presidio at Monterey Bay and accidentally became the first European to set eyes on San Francisco Bay. This was the beginning of Spanish colonization in the area and, within a few years, the landscape and the Ohlone way of life changed forever.
The Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Trail is a recent effort to acknowledge this history, recognizing both the significance of the Portolá Expedition and the enduring legacy of the Ohlone people.
First proposed by former POST board adviser Paul Reimer, this 90-mile recreational trail will follow the route Portolá took on his exploration of the Peninsula, much of which followed ancient Ohlone trade routes.
To estimate the historic route, Reimer studied the diaries from the Portolá Expedition to piece together a rough map. POST then took Reimer’s notes and plotted a conceptual map (see above).
The planning of this regional trail is now being managed by San Mateo County Parks Department, under the leadership of Supervisors Don Horsley and Carole Groom. A feasibility study was completed in 2019 to guide the next steps of the project. It honed in on the trail routing and interpretive trail opportunities to help share this history. Additionally, a diverse group of 90 organizations and individuals formed a trail committee to shape this monumental community effort.
There’s still a lot of work to do to make this trail a reality. But it’s exciting to be a part of this community effort and support the work of our partners. Please stay tuned as we work to support the development of this new regional trail and create new ways for you to engage with our local history.
Go explore existing stretches of the trail, including taking your bike out for a spin along Crystal Springs.
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Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 86,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more