Follow the pipe

Remnants of the Schilling Estate litter the landscape.

As we scrambled down the abandoned trail, I regained my confidence when I saw the pipes snaking their way downhill. I knew we were on the right path.

Some 35 years ago I rode down the same unnamed trail off Hwy 84 and Grandview Drive, Jobst Brandt leading the way on another adventure ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Back then the trail hadn’t been rehabilitated by Midpeninsula Regional Open Space. It was just a forgotten road once owned by the August Schilling estate, located at the intersection of Portola Road and Old La Honda Road.

Schilling made his fortune in the late 1800s, first partnering with coffee magnate James Folger. He went on to establish his own spice business. I remember their distinctive red and blue containers.

At the height of his fortune, Schilling sculpted the redwoods around him into a horticultural fairyland. He built roads and bridges and planted an assortment of trees.

On this day in the 1980s all Jobst and I saw was a barely recognizable trail, rusty pipes, a concrete drainage and bridge abutments. Jobst first rode down the trail/road in the mid 1950s, on his motorcycle.

The trail to Schilling Lake from near the base of Old La Honda Road has been modified to its present alignment, in such a way that I knew this was not the original trail.

Once we reached the lake, I wanted to relive those days gone by and follow the old trail. Normally I wouldn’t depart from the marked trail, but this was a unique opportunity to explore.

It’s no wonder the trail was realigned. Many trees have fallen and time has not been kind to what was once a nice dirt road.

This canyon was logged by Dennis Martin in the 1840s, and it was he who created the lake for his sawmill. The creek that runs through the Schilling estate is named after him. Sadly, Dennis Martin lost his bet on the sale of Spanish landholdings and died a lonely, broken man.

That ride down to Old La Honda Road stayed fresh in mind after all these years, and that pipe that occupied the road. Still there.

Schilling Lake. Not much to see.

6 Responses to “Follow the pipe”

  1. Rama Says:

    Wow, thanks for the history. I’ve ridden by there 100s of times and never new. Is that part of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve?

  2. Rudy Says:

    Probably more like part of Thornewood

  3. Ted Says:

    Great material!!

  4. Mike Buncic Says:

    Is this in Thornewood OSP?

  5. Ray Hosler Says:


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