I just love Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve. It's one of those places where the sum adds up to more than the parts -- if I look critically at aspects of this place, there's a lot to dislike (a location so close to roads and houses, lots of dogs on the trail), but somehow it all works.
Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail is the newest trail at Pulgas, and it is wonderful, with all my favorite features of Polly Geraci Trail, expanded and intensified. DFWT starts in the lower reaches of the preserve then climbs out of a canyon, mostly on switchbacks, through mixed woods to chaparral with sweeping views of the preserve, Edgewood just to the south, and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. For such a small preserve, Pulgas Ridge has a diverse assortment of plants and trees, and the high reaches of DFWT is lined with some of my favorite chaparral shrubs, including manzanita, chaparral pea, chamise, and toyon. I worried that traffic noise from 280 would be a problem, and there is one brief section of the trail that draws close to the road -- this segment is noisy, but it is short. All in all it's a great addition to the preserve, and really increases the loop options for hikers. I can't wait to go back for wildflowers in late winter and spring.
But wow, was it hot. I had forgotten what it's like to hike in summer heat.