Hikes that defy the heights of Devil’s Slide

by on May 02, 2013

Devil's Slide is more accessible than ever to hiking. Photo: zemistor/Flickr.
Devil's Slide is more accessible than ever to hiking. Photo: zemistor/Flickr.

The recent opening of the twin tunnels through San Pedro Mountain has made Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County more accessible than ever to hikers.

Now that death-defying landslides and maddening traffic jams along Highway 1 are (we hope) a thing of the past, it’s a good time to plan a trip to the area, where 8,900 acres of California coastline beckons from Pacifica to Half Moon Bay.

Devil’s Slide includes thousands of acres of ridgelines, bluffs, beaches, vistas and tidepools that can be freely explored by the public. The month of May brings warm, sunny days with hillsides covered in a rainbow of wildflowers — all within an easy ride of San Francisco and the Peninsula. You’ll get to see a variety of habitats as you explore the area: well-preserved coastal scrub, pastureland, coastal grassland and coastal freshwater marshes, to name a few.

And put this on your future hiking list: the old Highway 1 route will be converted into an extension of the California Coastal Trail within a couple years, complete with parking, benches and other trail features.

Here are some Bay Nature picks to get you started at Devil’s Slide:

Photo: Christina Vallianos.

Photo: Christina Vallianos.

Gray Whale Cove, Montara

You’ll enjoy beautiful ocean views, colorful wildflowers, and the chance to spot migrating whales on this short, easy hike.  Plus, there are two accessible beaches on either end of the trail!

Photo: Christina Vallianos.

Photo: Christina Vallianos.

Montara Mountain, Montara (McNee State Ranch)

The spectacular 360-degree San Francisco Bay Area view at the top of this strenuous hike is reward enough for the climb. The biodiverse mountain is home to several rare and endangered plant species amidst its coastal scrub and chaparral habitats. Keep an eye out for the endangered Hickman’s potentilla flower, the aptly named Montara manzanita, and the abundant wildlife along the way.

Photo: Christina Vallianos

Photo: Christina Vallianos

Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica

Stunning coastal views await you on the bluffs of Pedro Point.  Don’t miss the zebra striped San Pedro rock.  With any luck, you’ll be the only one there! NOTE this site is temporarily inaccessible due to construction by CalTrans. As of May 31, the plan is to have this open again by July 4, 2013.

Photo: Ann Sieck.

Photo: Ann Sieck.

Old San Pedro Mountain Road, Montara

Enjoy the grand ocean views, wildflowers, bird life, and interesting topography that this accessible trail has to offer.

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jane huber on May 9th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I don’t think Pedro Point Headlands is accessible now that the Devil’s Slide road is closed.

Dan Rademacher on May 9th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Oy, yes, thanks Jane! I spoke to Lynn about that yesterday and then forgot to post an update here.

Joan on April 2nd, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I am interested in hiking along the newly opened Devils Slide Trail, but understand that access is difficult. I don’t want to hike along the highway shoulder to get to this trail. Is there a hiking trail that leads to the Devils Slide Trail? Any advice would be appreciated.

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