Coastside Destinations en Año Nuevo State Park <div data-history-node-id="1557" class="node node--type-article node--view-mode-rss ds-1col clearfix" typeof="schema:Article"> <div class="field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Explore the Natural Wonders</div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"> <img property="schema:image" src="/sites/default/files/styles/large_/public/2018-02/IMG_3895.jpg?h=732ff91a" width="1140" height="480" alt="Elephant Seals" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-page-content field--type-entity-reference-revisions field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"> <div class="paragraph paragraph--type--introduction-text paragraph--view-mode--default"> <div class="section-text field--name-field-introduction col-sm-12"><p>The elephant seals aren’t the only things worth flapping your flippers for. With thousands of feisty northern elephant seals swarming its shores each year, Año Nuevo offers one of the most thrilling wildlife experiences in the state.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field--item"> <div class="paragraph paragraph--type--plain-text paragraph--view-mode--default"> <div class="section-text col-sm-12"><p>Located twenty-five miles south of Half Moon Bay, the park’s remote sandy shores play host to the mating, birthing, and molting seasons of the two-ton creatures that were nearly driven extinct in the 19th century. While the seals are clearly the stars, the park itself inspires with over 4,000 acres of diverse, mesmerizing landscapes—from a freshwater marsh to towering sand dunes—and a rich cultural history that includes historic structures from a bygone dairy farm.</p> <h3>A BRIEF HISTORY OF AÑO NUEVO</h3> <p>Like many areas of California, Año Nuevo was home to native people—a group of Ohlone indians known as the Quiroste—prior to being named by a Spanish explorer. On January 3, 1603, Don Sebastian Vizcaino sailed past the point, and the crew’s chaplain declared it Punta del Año Nuevo, or New Year’s Point, in honor of the date. By the mid 1880s, the founding of nearby Mission Santa Cruz and the Gold Rush brought throngs of settlers—and changes—to the California coast. In 1861, the land currently encompassed by Año Nuevo State Park became a coastal dairy farm founded by the Steele brothers who had emigrated from Ohio and developed numerous dairies throughout California.</p> <p>During the 1880s, northern elephant seals, like whales, were hunted extensively for the oil that could be rendered from their blubber. By the close of the 19th century, it’s estimated that fewer than 200 seals remained on the planet. Facing certain extinction, the seals were granted protection by the Mexican and United States governments in the early 20th century. Elephant seals began appearing at Año Nuevo in 1955, long after the dairy ceased operating and the area had returned to a quiet and remote setting. Since then, the seals have held on to this habitat, and their population has rebounded tremendously.</p> <figure role="group" class="align-center"> <img alt="Young Elephant Seal - Photo by Kevin Henney" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c27eb839-be00-4ef2-8626-e2f1d7974bf6" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/IMG_3973.jpg" /> <figcaption>Young Elephant Seal - Photo by Kevin Henney</figcaption> </figure> <h3>ELEPHANT SEAL LIFE</h3> <p>While Coastside visitors are likely familiar with harbor seals, the sleek swimmers whose whiskered faces are frequently seen bobbing just offshore, elephant seals have a unique set of attributes including an enormous size, cartoonish snout-like nose, and a seasonal schedule that works like clockwork.</p> <p>Elephant seals spend most of their lives at sea, usually foraging for food—the males along the continental shelf near Canada and Alaska, the females in the deep Pacific ocean. With an appetite for squid and hagfish, they are expert deep-sea divers—only sperm whales beat them as the deepest diving marine mammals. The seals only come ashore during molting, mating, and birthing season. In spring and summer, elephant seals haul out at Año Nuevo to molt, a three-to-four week process that sheds their fur and whiskers. After heading back out to sea, the males will start to return in late November in anticipation of mating season. The three-to-five-thousand-pound bulls battle it out to establish a pecking order as the victors will do much of the breeding. The females—pregnant from the previous year—begin to show up in December, and the party gets started. Each female births one pup which will quadruple in size in one month thanks to an exceptionally fatty mother’s milk. The mating cycle begins anew before the females head back to sea leaving their pups behind to master swimming in shallow offshore waters so that they may soon head north to join the hunt for food.</p> <figure role="group" class="align-center"> <img alt="Adult Male Elephant Seal - Photo by Kevin Henney" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="9a844199-2ef7-4728-a962-c9edecdc00aa" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/IMG_8222.jpg" /> <figcaption>Adult Male Elephant Seal - Photo by Kevin Henney</figcaption> </figure> <h3>VISITING THE SEALS</h3> <p>Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Año Nuevo to view the seals. You’re nearly certain to see them any time of year, but winter offers the most dramatic viewing when thousands of seals haul out to clash, mate, and birth. Worried about inclement weather? It’s the best time to visit. The huge animals are most active in cold weather due to the thick layer of blubber that keeps them warm in chilly ocean waters but makes them sluggish on warm days.</p> <p><strong>High Season: Winter</strong><br /> From December 15 to March 31, visitors coming to view the seals are required to join a docent-led tour. The 3-mile excursion lasts 2.5 hours and can be reserved in advance beginning in October. Visitors with mobility issues are invited to reserve an Equal Access Tour which delivers guests to viewing areas via a short wooden walkway. To reserve a tour, call 800-444-4445. Note that from December 1st to 14th, all viewing areas are closed to allow undisturbed shore access for pregnant females.</p> <p><strong>Off Season: Spring - Fall</strong><br /> From April through November, the public is welcome to visit the park and walk out to the restricted viewing areas with a permit (a limited number of permits are issued free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis at the park). Docents are stationed year-round at viewing platforms to offer insight while mounted viewing scopes allow visitors to zoom in on the hulking creatures.</p> <h3>AN AWE-INSPIRING COASTAL LANDSCAPE</h3> <p>While elephant seals remain Año Nuevo’s biggest draw, visitors shouldn’t miss the park’s exceptionally scenic trails, beaches, and historic attractions. The roughly 2-mile Año Nuevo Point Trail—which stretches from the parking lot to the seal preserve’s northernmost viewing area—is a destination of its own as it traverses sheer coastal bluffs, seaside meadows, and a garden of colorful coastal scrub. An early morning stroll feels like a coastal safari given the number of wildlife you’re likely to spot including scurrying quail, swooping red-tailed hawks, and scat from the park’s many nocturnal animals such as foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. Perhaps the most thrilling wildlife moment is arriving at the massive sand dunes inside the seal preserve and, before catching sight of one, hearing the creature’s loud, rolling grunt that calls to mind a scene from “Jurassic Park.”</p> <figure role="group" class="align-center"> <img alt="Photo by Garrick Ramirez" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="13c4ff97-5705-41aa-aae8-116c747c2b0e" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Ano%20Nuevo%20PC%20Garrick%20Ramirez-1.jpg" /> <figcaption>Photo by Garrick Ramirez</figcaption> </figure> <p>The Año Nuevo Point trail offers a few small detours with big payoffs. Toward the beginning of the path, a short spur trail leads down to Cove Beach, a stunning white-sand beach bounded by sea caves and sheer coastal bluffs. And be sure to check out the numerous scenic overlooks that dot the path offering sweeping views of the majestic coastline, forested hills of Big Basin State Park, and the protected waters of Año Nuevo Bay. You’ll also notice Año Nuevo Island sitting just offshore and topped with what appears to be a grand haunted mansion. The decaying house is a former lighthouse keeper’s residence, a remnant of the light station that was erected in the 1880s following numerous shipwrecks. The abandoned house is now a windowless island abode for California sea lions and nesting cormorants. As such, the home and the island are off-limits to the public.</p> <p>The historic structures that you are welcome to visit are the 19th century dairy farm buildings located near the park’s entrance. Pop into the cozy 1880 horse barn to watch a short film on the elephant seals, and eye historic photos of the dairy and surrounding area during the 1800s. Next door, a stunning, cavernous dairy barn houses a park store and Marine Education Center which details the fascinating lives of the elephant seals.</p> <p>The Coastside is home to a vibrant diversity of wildlife and nature preserves, from the teeming marine life at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and Pillar Point to the lush redwood forests that envelop winding Highway 35. For more nature-filled adventures, check out the many destinations and<a href="/discover"> activities listed in the Discover section</a>.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 23 Feb 2018 01:43:49 +0000 kevin 1557 at Pillar Point Harbor <div data-history-node-id="29" class="node node--type-article node--view-mode-rss ds-1col clearfix" typeof="schema:Article"> <div class="field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Offering a Taste of New England </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"> <img property="schema:image" src="/sites/default/files/styles/large_/public/2017-07/Pillar%20Point%20Harbor%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-2Sm_0.jpg?h=80206f91" width="1140" height="480" alt="Pillar Point Harbor" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-page-content field--type-entity-reference-revisions field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"> <div class="paragraph paragraph--type--introduction-text paragraph--view-mode--default"> <div class="section-text field--name-field-introduction col-sm-12"><p>With docks of colorful fishing boats and charming waterfront eateries, the cozy seaside hamlet of Pillar Point Harbor offers a taste of New England along the California coast. Ever present ocean views and salt-tinged breezes lure all those who share a love of the sea, from commercial fishermen to world-renowned surfers. Explore the coastal haven by foot and discover sandy beaches, scenic trails, and a killer seafood shack or two.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field--item"> <div class="paragraph paragraph--type--plain-text paragraph--view-mode--default"> <div class="section-text col-sm-12"><h3>PLAY</h3> <p>Surrounded by the ocean, wetlands, and dramatic coastal bluffs, Pillar Point Harbor abounds with natural splendor. For a scenic primer that’s easy on the calves, hit the Pillar Point Marsh trail. In just under a mile, it passes through a garden of coastal flora, alongside the harbor’s gently swaying boats, and out to the wild shores of the Pacific. Start at the namesake salt marsh whose symphony of squawks, chirps and honks comes from hundreds of birds that dart about its waters. Follow the trail as it skirts the harbor’s sandy shore, past a romantic old wooden pier, before arriving at the driftwood-strewn sands of Pillar Point Beach.</p> <p>About a half mile offshore from Pillar Point Beach is the world-famous Mavericks surf break and some of the biggest waves on the planet. In the winter, waves can swell to over 60 feet high and break with a crash that registers on the Richter Scale. When conditions are right, twenty-four of the world’s best surfers are invited each year to scale Maverick’s mountains of water, literally putting their lives on the line, in a one-day surf contest. The event draws a crowd but the threat of rogue waves limits spectators to watch via big screens at designated viewing tents and local restaurants.</p> <p>Want to hop on a board without risking life and limb? Check out Maverick’s Paddleboard, a great resource for the stand-up water sport. It’s co-owned by local surf legend Jeff Clark — along with his wife Cassandra — who is credited with being the first to surf Mavericks and founded its first surf competition. Clark fell in love with paddleboarding as a way to be on the water when there were no waves to surf. Thanks to three breakwaters, Pillar Point is one of most protected and safest harbors in the nation. The shop offers classes for newbies and rentals for pros. Lucky paddlers might spot bat rays and harmless leopard sharks scurrying underfoot.</p> <p><img alt="Maverick's Surf Company" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="428f039a-4b75-4ad4-ba1c-49d633e178fe" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Mavericks%20Surf%20Shop%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-1Sm_0.jpg" /></p> <p>Another way to experience the harbor’s tranquil, wildlife-filled waters is via kayak. Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. has everything visitors need to glide peacefully across the harbor’s gentle waters amidst seabirds and harbor seals. For landlubbers, there are rental bikes to cruise the scenic Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail which hugs the shore along a paved route removed from traffic.</p> <h3>SHOP</h3> <p>Whether you’re in town to ride a giant wave or simply grab a Mavericks hoodie, you’ll appreciate a stop at Maverick’s Surf Shop. Traveling surfers and curious visitors can pop into the shop and learn what it takes to surf Mavericks. The de facto headquarters for local surf culture has everything from posters to big wave boards custom made by Jeff Clark. “I’ve been fortunate to grow up next to the Everest of surfing and carve out an existence doing what I love,” says Clark.</p> <p>The same could be said of Simmin and Sudi, two sisters who own the home boutique Nasturtium Art of Living. Tucked in a cozy seaside bungalow, the shop reflects their love of design and their coastsidehome with a curated mix of coastal-inspired home and garden decor. Say hi to Coco Chanel, their shaggy pup who’s usually seen lounging in the front garden welcoming visitors.</p> <p><img alt="Nasturtium Art of Living" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="b3ca680b-f2d1-4bb6-b351-d21f565057ab" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/077A2800Sm_0.jpg" /></p> <p>Arguably the most fun to be had at Pillar Point Harbor is scoring just-caught seafood directly from the fishing boats. Pillar Point is one of California’s last working fishing harbors and, each morning, Johnson Pier is a bustle of activity as returning boats are greeted with lines of eager customers. King salmon, halibut, petrale sole, and even live sea urchin are examples of typical seasonal catches. From November through May, Dungeness crab draws a crowd. Learn the catch of the day long before reaching the harbor by calling the harbormaster’s fishline (650-726-8724) or scrolling daily reports using the handy Fishline app (available at Even if you’re not prepared to plop crabs into steaming stovetop pots, it’s fun to stroll the docks and watch fishermen pluck wriggling, purple-hued crabs from their watery tanks.</p> <p>Don’t miss the interpretive signage that lines the pier and details the offshore marine sanctuary—one of the richest, most diverse ocean wildernesses in the world—and the harbor’s sustainable fishing practices. For example, fishermen only net male crabs of a certain size to ensure the population can reproduce and thrive.</p> <h3>EAT</h3> <p>Not everyone is keen to fillet a fifty- pound salmon themselves. Thankfully, Pillar Point Harbor brims with delightful eateries that dish up local seafood and inspiring waterfront views. Follow the crowds to Sam’s Chowder House, a spirited seafood restaurant with a setting close enough to the water to cast your own line. Nab a seat on the heated patio and tuck into a steaming bowl of clam chowder. Follow it with a lobster roll that would make a New Englander weep with heaps of plump lobster meat stuffed into a buttery brioche bun.</p> <p><img alt="Sam's Lobster Roll" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="3a5ad545-49d2-422e-b8b6-cdd687e05faa" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Sam%E2%80%99s%20Chowder%20House%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-4Sm_0.jpg" /></p> <p>Over at Princeton Seafood Company, it’s all about casual seafood faves like baskets of fish &amp; chips and bowls of creamy clam chowder. Sit down for table service or grab an order from the window counter and take it to colorful, sidewalk picnic tables. There’s also a fish market with impressive displays of the day’s fresh catch.</p> <p>Comforts abound at Flavor, a dual-level restaurant with picture windows overlooking the harbor. Upscale comfort foods such as braised short ribs and a seafood pot pie make it a regular hang for locals. The downstairs lounge is a happy hour nirvana with cushy oversized sofas, flat screen TVs, and a menu full of food and drink specials.</p> <p>The sunny Southern Italian food at Mezzaluna has gained a loyal following thanks to pastas like the Linguini della Baia bursting with clams, calamari, and scallops. The warm, light-filled dining room is anchored by a large stone hearth and overlooks the windblown cypress trees that line the harbor.</p> <p>A colorful Spanish flag hints at the wonderful atmosphere and food at Seville Tapas. The cafe and wine bar sports richly decorated interiors that transport guests to the southern coast of Spain. Outside, diners cozy up around courtyard fire pits and enjoy sizzling platters of Gambas al Ajillo, or garlic shrimp, paired with lusty Riojas and spanish beers on tap.</p> <p><img alt="Seville" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="659373b6-ab2f-4fef-b143-90ee62c08b13" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/077A2798Sm.jpg" /></p> <p>Before hitting the morning surf or trails, fuel up at The Press, a tidy barn-chic cafe that features pressed sandwiches on freshly-baked bread. Arrive early for your pick of unique, housemade pastries like a Strawberry Brie Danish. Or grab a breakfast burrito at Old Princeton Landing. During the last Mavericks competition, they sold sixty-five of them in less than an hour. Don’t be fooled by its casual exterior. The spic-and-span diner cranks out locally sourced produce and impeccable seafood that was likely swimming in the ocean earlier that day. At their adjacent tavern, locals clink pints of beer and swap stories from that day’s surf.</p> <h3>DRINK</h3> <p>During Prohibition, Pillar Point teemed with rum runners and bootleggers who took advantage of its isolated waterfront setting. Ships would dump their illegal cargo into the sea and locals looking to make quick buck would snag the barrels and drive them up to San Francisco speakeasies. Today, the smugglers have been replaced by craft brewers, artisanal distillers, and small-batch vintners.</p> <p><img alt="Half Moon Bay Brewing Company Flight of Beer" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="969d01dc-0f7b-45ca-a580-5fad03d3a829" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Half%20Moon%20Bay%20Brewing%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-5Sm.jpg" /></p> <p>Just try and pass up a cold one on the large harbor-facing deck at Half Moon Bay Brewing. The pup-friendly gathering spot serves an amazing array of craft beers, from a clean-drinking German style Kölsch to the burly Tunnel Vision IPA. Order a sampler and pair it with beer-friendly bites like a jumbo pretzel or beer-battered fish &amp; chips. Marking the entrance is a two-ton anchor salvaged from a sailing ship that broke apart on reefs off Pillar Point in 1876.</p> <p>Half Moon Bay Distillery is the first legal distillery on the San Mateo Coast. Inspired by the brandies of her native Austria, owner Ulli and her husband Cesar imported a gleaming distiller from Germany and began crafting refined spirits unique to the central coast. Their Purissima Vodka is named for the historic ghost town of Purissima whose overgrown cemetery can still be explored if you can find it. Their velvety Harvard Avenue gin, rich with citrus and spice, will make an instant convert of anyone weary of the spirit’s traditional bite. Sample both while learning the art of distilling at their gorgeous new tasting room.</p> <p><img alt="Half Moon Bay Distillery Vodka" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7c67d05d-e504-47ca-ae7c-b5c2da6ad5d9" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Half%20Moon%20Bay%20Distillery%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-3Sm_0.jpg" /></p> <p>A few doors down, wine lovers can sip the elegant, food-friendly varietals of Trojak Knier Winery. Started by two locals who discovered a passion and talent for winemaking, the intimate winery sources grapes from Napa and Sonoma and crushes them amidst the crab nets and fish floats of Pillar Point’s shipyards. Everything is done by hand right down to the bottle labels. Drop by weekends and hope they haven’t sold the last of their delicious Pinot Noir.</p> <h3>STAY</h3> <p>Quiet sunrises and golden sunsets are strong motivators for staying the night. A number of cozy inns and beachfront hotels offer delightful ways for guests to extend their visit. Located smack dab in the middle of Pillar Point, Oceano Hotel &amp; Spa is just steps from the harbor’s buzz of shops and eateries. Plush beds, fireplaces, and deep soaking tubs make it a cozy respite after an activity filled day. A 5,000 square-foot day spa doesn’t hurt either. A new reception center and ceremony garden make it an enviable wedding venue.</p> <p>The Inn at Mavericks feels like a ship at sea with nothing but blue water visible from guest room windows. Hidden on a secluded side street, the boutique inn is perched directly on the harbor shore. Sit out on your oversized deck and enjoy the occasional visit from a raspy harbor seal. At night, be lulled to sleep by the gentle ripple of waves.</p> <p>A stay at the Beach House Half Moon Bay is like enjoying your own weekend beach cottage. With plush living spaces and convenient kitchenettes, fully-equipped suites are situated on the sandy dunes that front a quiet corner of the harbor. End the day on a private balcony and watch the sun disappear behind a silhouette of Pillar Point. In the morning, wake to a giddy spread of fresh-baked pastries, fruit, and local organic coffee.</p> <p><img alt="Beach House Hotel" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4030fff6-858b-40ed-97f4-567f6c19d956" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/077A2899Sm.jpg" /></p> <p>Tucked away on a quiet street across the harbor, Harbor View Inn is a comfortable property with spacious guest rooms that sport views of the Pacific. Fuel up with a complimentary breakfast before exploring the natural splendor and nautical charm of Pillar Point Harbor.</p> <p>Although just 25 minutes from the jet-fueled din of SFO, Pillar Point Harbor feels worlds away. It’s a special destination along the California coast where visitors can enjoy a thriving seaside culture, engage with breathtaking natural surroundings, and reap the tasty rewards of a bustling fishing harbor.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 25 May 2017 22:39:38 +0000 colleen 29 at Devil's Slide Trail <div data-history-node-id="28" class="node node--type-article node--view-mode-rss ds-1col clearfix" typeof="schema:Article"> <div class="field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Rails to Trails</div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"> <img property="schema:image" src="/sites/default/files/styles/large_/public/2017-05/Devils%20Slide.jpg?h=1b371e96" width="1140" height="480" alt="Devil&#039;s Slide Trail" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-page-content field--type-entity-reference-revisions field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"> <div class="paragraph paragraph--type--introduction-text paragraph--view-mode--default"> <div class="section-text field--name-field-introduction col-sm-12"><p>Edge-of-the-world views, gardens of coastal flowers, and aquamarine waters teeming with sea life exemplify the immense beauty found at Devil’s Slide Trail. The cliffside promenade is one of California’s most glorious pathways and certainly its most unique. The coastal trail was once a busy highway and, as its diabolical name implies, it wasn’t always so beloved.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field--item"> <div class="paragraph paragraph--type--plain-text paragraph--view-mode--default"> <div class="section-text col-sm-12"><p>For nearly a century, the treacherous thoroughfare along the sheer cliffs of San Pedro Mountain confounded motorists, railroads, and engineers. Frequent landslides would batter the road forcing it closed for up to months at a time. In 2013, two state-of-the-art tunnels were built to bypass Devil’s Slide and, soon after, the infamous stretch of road was converted into a spectacular public trail. Today, families, nature lovers, cyclists, and equestrians can explore dazzling coastal cliffs along the paved 1.3 mile trail and experience what car-bound motorists never could. In just two years, Devil’s Slide trail has become the most popular destination in the San Mateo County Parks system drawing visitors with its grand-scale splendor.</p> <p><img alt="Devil's Slide" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="211de730-129b-4fb0-8f97-831488563875" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Devils%20Slide%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-3Sm.jpg" /></p> <h2>OCEAN SHORE RAILROAD</h2> <p>Before it played host to Highway One, Devil’s Slide was the site of an ill-fated railway. With dreams of a leisure train that would shuttle daytrippers down the coast, the Ocean Shore Railway Company drew up plans for 73 miles of tracks between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, construction began in fall of 1905, less than a year before the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake sent tracks along Devil’s Slide plunging into the ocean. The railway eventually opened in 1908 but its northern segment never made it past Half Moon Bay and the beleaguered railroad ultimately called it quits in 1920. Today, the tracks are long gone but visitors to Devil’s Slide trail can spot the railroad bed that cuts through the rough, hilly terrain along San Pedro Point.</p> <h2>WORLD’S LONGEST CUL-DE-SAC</h2> <p>While frustrations ran high for investors of the Ocean Shore Railway, it paled to that of future commuters. State Route 1—later renamed Highway One—first passed through Devil’s Slide in 1937 and, just three years later, was buried under fallen rocks. It was an omen of things to come. At least once a decade afterward, landslides and erosion would plague the road and vex local residents. In 1995, a landslide closed the road for six months causing coastside residents to quip that they lived in the world’s longest cul-de-sac. Even on good days, traffic along the accident-prone route would slow to a crawl as motorists carefully navigated hair-raising turns that teetered precipitously over sheer cliffs. CalTrans attempted every possible engineering feat to stabilize the hillside but nature always prevailed.</p> <p>Concerned with plans to construct a six-lane bypass over nearby Montara Mountain, community members countered by proposing a tunnel through San Pedro Mountain. During the summer of 1996, local car bumpers sported yellow “Think Tunnel” stickers and the measure went on to win in—what else?—a landslide. Construction began in 2005 and two tunnels—one northbound, the other southbound—were completed in the spring of 2013. Stretching 4,149 feet in length, the northbound underpass is the second longest tunnel in California, falling shy of Wawona Tunnel in Yosemite.</p> <h2>A QUICK GEOLOGY LESSON</h2> <p>What is the source of the instability— and ensuring headaches—at Devil’s Slide? Sedimentary rock. The actual slide area is comprised of what was once the ocean floor, with visible layers of mud and sand, uplifted over millennia by shifting tectonic plates. Due to its mudstone content, sedimentary rock is extremely weak and prone to crumble. It’s this fragile composite that earned Devil’s Slide its notorious moniker.</p> <p><img alt="Geology" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ee65f5a6-134c-4d25-add9-635a9531c6e1" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Devils%20Slide%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-2Sm.jpg" /></p> <p>Unlike visitors who view Devil’s Slide Trail as a peaceful respite, geologists consider it a dynamic site of violent upheaval. The trail traverses two distinct, towering rock formations. Visitors can observe how the striated sedimentary rock at the north end contrasts with the solid granitic rock to the south. Identical to rock found at Lake Tahoe and Yosemite Valley, this granite was ripped from the Sierras and thrust toward the coast by forces deep within the earth. Devil’s Slide Trail lends a rare opportunity to explore sheer coastal cliffs in a safe environment and experience the earth’s continuously evolving geology.</p> <p>Thanks to lush native flora, strolling between these spectacular outcrops is like walking through a hanging garden. Granite slopes are adorned with a variety of plant life such as fragrant California sagebrush, the scarlet blooms of Indian Paintbrush, and vibrant Seaside Daisies.</p> <h2>MARINE LAND</h2> <p>Devil’s Slide Trail provides an incredible vantage point for spotting marine birds and mammals. Three observation platforms outfitted with benches and viewfinders allow visitors to catch sight of ocean life such as bottlenose dolphins frolicking just offshore. Gray whales are often seen hugging the coast in January, on their southward migration toward birthing grounds in Baja, and in spring as they return north alongside their calves. Bring binoculars to spot humpback whales which swim further from shore and are primarily visible from April through October. The area’s frigid waters also proliferate with pinnipeds such as California sea lions and harbor seals that haul out on nearby San Pedro Rock.</p> <p><img alt="Vantage Point" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="940a0e47-f33b-4ca8-b73d-ea1729cf62e0" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Devils%20Slide%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-4.jpg" /></p> <h2>CURE FOR THE COMMON MURRE</h2> <p>In addition to seabirds like pelicans and cormorants, visitors might also spot sleek peregrine falcons darting in and out the crevices that pock granite cliffs. And don’t be surprised if someone excitedly points out a penguin. With a black bowling pin-shaped body and white oval belly, the common murre is easily mistaken for its Antarctic doppelgänger. True seabirds that live their entire lives at sea, murres maintain a nesting colony just offshore at Devil’s Slide Rock. In the 1980s, the murre colony here was completely wiped out by gill nets and a devastating oil spill. Using decoys and sound recordings, biologists lured them back and helped repopulate their spring and summer home at Devil’s Slide.</p> <p><img alt="Cormorants" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="42019bba-3666-4d42-a5ba-9eaba559db74" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/AdobeStock_111546463Sm.jpg" /></p> <h2>PATROLLING THE WATERS</h2> <p>Today, visitors study the waters for plumes of migrating whales. Yet during World War II, offshore waters were scanned for enemy vessels. Devil’s Slide was the site of numerous Army observation stations, including one emplacement perched on a granite hill that is visible from the trail. Before the advent of radar, soldiers would employ triangulation, a technique of pinpointing enemy warcraft based on location reports from three observation posts. The abandoned bunkers are quiet reminders of an early coastal defense network that included ocean mines and underwater nets waiting to snare Japanese subs.</p> <h2>KNOW BEFORE YOU GO</h2> <p>Devil’s Slide Trail is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. Dogs on leashes are welcome and pet waste disposal is available. There are two small parking lots at each end of the trail that are equipped with restrooms and drinking fountains. Lots open daily at 8:00 a.m. and close at various times depending upon the season. SamTrans operates a daily bus (#17) to the Devil’s Slide Trail and, on weekends, a dedicated shuttle picks up from Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica.</p> <p>Trail ambassadors stroll the path making themselves available to answer questions and relay insightful stories. There’s also a series of interpretive panels that detail the natural and cultural history of the surrounding coast. Devil’s Slide experiences a variety of weather, sometimes within moments of each other, so remember to pack that fleece.</p> <p><img alt="Wildflowers" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="91665ddb-972b-4f15-b5e1-8a68a9d64b2b" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Devils%20Slide%20Photo%20Credit%20Garrick%20Ramirez-5Sm.jpg" /></p> <p>Craving a post-hike nibble? Less than three miles south, La Costanera dishes up contemporary Peruvian plates in a striking building set on sweeping Montara Beach. Nab a seat in the glass-enclosed dining room or heated, waterfront patio and enjoy creative cebiches and a Pisco Sour while watching the sun dip into the Pacific.</p> <p> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 24 May 2017 22:27:49 +0000 colleen 28 at