San Mateo's Sawyer Camp Trail is very popular as the congested trailhead parking will attest. But walk a bit along the trail and you'll find yourself almost alone in a gorgeous wild setting. This paved trail follows the Crystal Springs reservoir with markers every half mile to measure your progress, and it's not unusual to meet moms with strollers, runners, and bikers here enjoying the natural seclusion. The trail is absolutely wonderful and easy on the legs.
It's been recently paved and winds through scenery that's breathtaking with dramatic sweeping vistas of the lakes and distant montains. The whole area is pristine and spotless, and there will be an occasional deer, bird, coyote, rabbit, and even a slow moving slug (such as myself) moving along this path. Plants include the dogwood, ash, cottonwood, and poison oak that makes a dramatic and colorful fall showing.
I'd suggest starting your walk in the morning to avoid the chilly fog that might creep over the hills, but bring sunscreen if you travel the entire round trip from lake to lake. While there is plenty of shade, there’s also time for a dose of sunburn...
Sawyer Camp Trail was once an entrance to Sawyer's camp where an early settler hosted picnickers and sold lodging to equestrians. The trail later became a stagecoach route to Half Moon Bay and remained open when the property was acquired for Hetch Hetchy watershed. It was a popular scenic drive, and I fondly remember traveling this narrow road after family Sunday outings to Redwood City. The road was eventually closed to auto traffic but the trail remains open for public recreation. Lucky for us!