Never heard of Devil’s Slide?
Until last year, it was a 1.3 mile stretch of California Highway 1 between the beach communities of Pacifica and Montara south of San Francisco. We remember, not fondly, white-knuckle driving, eyes focused only on the road as we headed down this winding narrow road to visit friends.
This coastal stretch of road has been slowly falling into the Pacific Ocean since it was built in 1927. Often closed due to rocks and landslides, drivers navigated inland, adding up to an hour of driving time. Finally there is an alternate inland route. The Tom Lantos Tunnels, opened to Highway 1 traffic in 2013, cutting off the unstable, shoreline section.
A guide explains about the active tectonic plates and view from the new park.
Once the new highway tunnels were in place, the old Devil’s Slide route was converted into a linear park. Offering gorgeous coastal views, this stretch opened to the public as a hiking, biking, horseback riding trail in late March 2014. Binoculars or a scope will provide a close and personal view and don’t forget your camera.
On our visit, we could see and enjoy the stunning scenery for the first time. Rangers, volunteer docents, called navigators, and interpretive panels explain the history, flora and fauna. We learned about the common murre restoration on Egg Rock after a 1986 oil spill wiped out the nesting colony. Cormorants, Peregrine Falcons and Western Gulls soared above us.
Once a harbor defense area, we spied an old World War II pillbox barely hanging on to a distant hillside.
Walkers along the park road and the Tom Lantos Tunnels that now take the highway inland.
Looking closely up the coast, we made out the defunct Ocean Shore Railway line, now mostly consumed by the ocean.
Three overlooks and 12 benches invite hikers to linger and enjoy the views. Rangers and volunteers provide information about the trail. Like the old highway, the trail is paved, but painted-lines now separate the bicycles from the walkers. Restrooms and parking lots are at each end of the trail, but parking is limited, especially on week-ends. There is free shuttle service available from Pacifica on the weekends, but you’ll have to pay for SamTrans service to Pacifica.
The 60 million year old Pacific and North American Tectonic Plates are still active here so eventually this stretch of road will follow the old railroad into the Pacific Ocean. Until that happens, enjoy a walk through this very special park.
For More Information:
Visit www.samtrans.com for map and schedule.
Free weekend shuttle from Pacifica: www.CityofPacifica.org and select “Devil’s Slide Ride.”
For more trail information about the park, visit www.SMCoParks.org
Hungry? Eat at Puerto 27 in Pacifica, www.puerto27.com