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Hike or ride the new Devil’s Slide Trail

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After twelve years in the works—through concept, task force, and implementation—the Devil’s Slide Trail in Pacifica, CA opened to the public on March 27, 2014. The trail overlooks one of California’s most beautiful stretches of coastline. Bring your binoculars because you may spot the nesting Peregrine Falcons, or Common Murres, cormorants, ducks, and Western Gulls. Off-shore you may see various marine mammals; during the winter months (Jan.-April), look for gray whales.

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The Devil’s Slide Trail follows the route that Highway 1 followed prior to the opening of the Devil’s Slide Bypass Tunnels that cars now take through the area. The trail, which is 1.3 miles long one-way, is now a multi-use non-motorized trail. Lane striping on the wide paved trail clearly indicates where pedestrians, equestrians, and bicycles should travel.

There are pet waste stations, bike racks, drinking fountains and restrooms at each end. Devil’s Slide Trail is a segment of the California Coastal Trail, a trail that, when finished, will extend 1,200 miles from Oregon to Mexico.

The geological features along the trail are also interesting. On the north end, you’ll see folded and layered shale and sandstone. At the south end, you’ll see the granite of Montara Mountain. The San Mateo County Parks Department has installed several interpretive panels along the route that explain the geology, history and natural features found at the site.

Though there are parking lots at both the northern and southern ends of the trail, parking is limited and it's recommended that weekend visitors take the free shuttle that Pacifica is providing to get to the northern end of the trail. During the week, arrive early if you want to park in a lot. Walking on the highway from Pacifica to the trailhead trail is very risky and cars that are park along the highway are ticketed.

Pacifica is a friendly, quiet community—just 10 minutes south of San Francisco—largely bordered by state and county parks and the Pacific Ocean. It offers a range of activities to its visitors including mountain biking, horseback riding, and fishing. Surfers head for Linda Mar State Beach, Rockaway Beach and Sharp Park Beach. The hiking possibilities include not only the Devil’s Slide, but also trails at Mori Point and on Sweeney Ridge. Click for map here.

Though Pacifica makes for a fine day trip, it’s also an ideal setting for a longer stay. There are hotels, motels, and restaurants offering accommodations to suit every taste. Disclaimer: I enjoyed a complimentary tasting of Puerto 27’s starters and recommend trying the Peruvian “piquetos” (tapas) or ceviches from the Cevichería bar.

Happy trails,

Susan "backpack45" Alcorn,

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