Hike by Lou Sian, originally published in the October 2006 issue of Bay Nature magazine
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Bay as the first Spaniards here did, head out to Sweeney Ridge in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, where in 1769 Gaspar de Portol ° and his men became the first Europeans to see San Francisco Bay. This park, once home to World War II and Cold War-era defense facilities, is now the domain of wildflowers and coyote brush. Rare sightings of mountain lions and bobcats mean that deer, rabbits, and rodents abound. The ridge even harbors three endangered species: red-legged frogs, San Francisco garter snakes, and mission blue butterflies.
For a quick but strenuous walk to the summit, head to the trailhead at the west end of Sneath Lane in San Bruno. Near the crest, there’s a welcome change in air temperature. On the windward side lie the Pacific Ocean and the coastal town of Pacifica. At the summit, the Sneath Lane trail becomes Sweeney Ridge Trail and turns right toward an old Nike missile site. The dirt road to the left leads to the Portol ° Discovery Site.
On a clear day at the summit, you’ll see the distant Sonoma coast, Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Diablo, Montara Mountain, San Pedro Point, and the Farallon Islands.
Getting there Take Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) to westbound Sneath Lane. Keep right at the fork above the church parking lot; continue to the parking lot at the end of Sneath Lane. Or take SamTrans #121/123 to Skyline College and enter the park from the north. Horses, dogs on leash permitted. No restrooms.