Did you get out to the Presidio last week? We've done the Goldsworthy loop a number of times and it is by far one of my favorite urban hikes with the kids. The Presidio has changed so much since I was young, I spent a lot of time in scouts doing activities with military kids. We had many events at the scout house tucked away in an attic room of one of the warehouses by Crissy Field. Spent summer day camp there slept overnight at the frigid Rob hill campground when there was still a munitions depot next door. We would constantly be briefed on what to do if we went too close and that we should stay far away. I do miss aspects of the old Presidio, but the trust has done an amazing job bringing this treasure to the 21st century creating a legacy we can all enjoy for years to come.
This week’s adventure used to be one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the Bay Area, aptly named Devils Slide. This treacherous piece of Highway 1 with its beautiful views was so twisty and narrow, a fair number of cars would have some tragic accidents here. Couple that with the tendency for the road to get washed out during extreme weather, this spot has earned its name.
After many initiatives, San Mateo county voters finally approved a tunnel bypass for this stretch of road after one storm damaged the road so badly that it took weeks to repair. The tunnel worked out beautifully. Devils Slide was then turned over to the county of San Mateo to become one of the county parks making for one of the most breathtaking costal hikes anywhere.
The road has been replaced and is in excellent shape, especially now that cars have been removed. There are markings for a cycling path on the inside part, and a wonderful trail on the coast-side with benches along the route.
Also let us know if you go, we would love to hear about your trip. Simply reply to this e-mail. And please feel free to forward this to a friend.
1-2-3 Things — Hike Devils Slide
Quick inspiration for a day out with the kids around the SF Bay Area
Devils Slide Trail
Pillar Point Harbor
Oddyssea in Half Moon bay
I suggest approaching your adventure today from the North. The drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco is breathtaking. Coming from down the peninsula, I usually drive up to Sharps Park road and take that over to the coast, then I’ll take highway 92 home. This way you will pass the norther parking area, go through the new tunnel, and take the immediate first right after you come out of the tunnel. I have not had an issue parking in the southern lot yet, but I’ve read that it can get pretty busy on a nicer day between 11AM - 1PM. SamTrans does make a stop here, and I’ve read there is a shuttle from the Linda Mar parking area on the weekends just north of the tunnel (http://www.cityofpacifica.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=5349). You should probably get here on the earlier side.
Devils Slide Trail
The 1.3 mile trail (with a climb of 24 floors according to my fitbit) has small parking areas (with no fee currently) on both the northern and southern ends of the trail, both adjacent to the entrances of the tunnel. It's safest to drive in from the north if you can manage, but the southern lot is the one you want to try and park in. The significant part of the climb is when you take the trail walking north, and it's best with the kids not to leave that to the end of your hike. Wear layers and the weather can change rapidly. There are pit toilets located at each end of the trail, and I believe a water fountain at the southern end in the main parking area.
The trail which opened in 2014 is a nice opportunity to meander high along the coast in this now tranquil corridor. From here you can possibly spot a migrating whale (usually December through May is the best time to try and spot one), see the Farallon islands on the horizon, drop 2 quarters in one of the telescopes along the trail and spot birds nesting in a number of spots, or catch a glimpse of a now off limits military lookout post used in WWII before the invention of radar to spot enemy ships. In the link above there is a video with a lot more information on the area, it’s geology, history, and natural features.
I find this a great spot for some nice candid walking shots. And if you are here on a wet day after a rain, the road looks like something out of a new car commercial. The shape of the road at certain points along the trail is really majestic. I usually dress the kids in something bright so they stand out from the surroundings a bit more.
The weather can change pretty quickly here on the coast, you can go from quiet and overcast to sunny and windy in the time it takes you to hike back and forth. Good occasion to put on some layers and use a windbreaker.
Pillar Point Harbor
One of my earliest memories of Pillar Point was my pop driving us down from the Sunset District along Highway 1 and we stopped off to wander along the docks looking at all the wonderful things the fisherman had brought in. We stopped and talked to one of the fisherman and my uncle who was also with us decided to buy a sizable tuna which we took home and roasted. You can still regularly buy fish from here, but with the algae bloom going on off the coast here I don’t think there is much going on at the moment. On the website there are usually links to postings of boats selling fish, but I’m not sure how up to date this is. Still, Its a great spot to stop off and wander around, plus you can pick up the coastal trail here and have another nice stroll along the waters edge. You can also rent kayaks and other equipment here if you are feeling adventurous.
Oddyssea - Half Moon Bay
This place has been around for a couple of years, yet somehow I’ve just missed it altogether - until this last weekend. We had stopped in downtown Half Moon Bay to warm up with a cocoa and took a stroll, wandering into their side yard where they had remnants of a “pirate” ship, tables, and crafts set out. In the attached shop you could buy doubloon tokens to do any number of crafts, with staff to help you out. The shop attached had quite a selection of curiosities to look through. We ended up buying an air plant with a shell that we could put together into a hanging starfish like thing. We also bought doubloons to make cute little necklaces. They host birthday parties, or you can drop in any time to take part in one of their many crafts.
- [Serious Tip] Please stay on trail. Yes you will likely see people on the nearby bluffs and cliffs, but the California coast can be quite crumbly and dangerous. Trail markers are not just a suggestion.
- Someplace I’ve been meaning to visit is the Devils Slide Tap Room http://www.devilsslidetaproom.com/, they seem to have an ok kids menu, and looks like a nice spot to stop.
- Tres Amigo’s in Half Moon Bay is a great stop for a burrito or some nachos. http://www.yelp.com/biz/tres-amigos-restaurant-half-moon-bay
- HMB Brewing has a nice selection of beers they brew, and my kids like their fish and chips. http://www.hmbbrewingco.com
- Sam's Chowder House is a really popular spot just past pillar point on highway 1. It can be quite difficult to find parking on a nice day, but the kids menus are good and they make a nice chowder. http://www.samschowderhouse.com
- The Moss Beach Distillery is a supposedly haunted location with a fantastic patio overlooking the ocean providing fire pits and blankets for those chillier days. http://www.mossbeachdistillery.com
- Rent a kayak or other water craft at Pillar Point. http://www.hmbkayak.com
- Mavericks surf competition is ramping up, take a walk along the trail and get a glimpse of these giant waves. http://www.everytrail.com/guide/mavericks-cliffs-trail/map