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South Ridge Trail

Difficult

Trail

0.6 mile 1.0 kilometer point to point
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 319' 97 m
Descent: -76' -23 m
High: 644' 196 m
Low: 325' 99 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Trail shared by Lee Watts

Steep trail is wide and smooth as it climbs above Shamrock Ranch, the tunnels and up to the spectacular Bluff Trail.

Lee Watts

Features Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Short trails, great views, dogs allowed.

Currently, the only access is from the small Devil's Slide parking lot, which is very small and often full. If you wait 5-10 minutes, someone may leave. Gates are open 8 AM to 7 PM. There are future plans to open a multi-access trail from Pacifica. Currently, no bikes are allowed.

Need to Know

This is rated as difficult because some grades are greater the 15%, but there is no danger and it is a fine trail for anyone who can hike up and down steep hills, even children. The only toilets, garbage cans, and water are at the Devil's Slide parking lot.

Description

The website, Vppt.org (for Virtural Pedro Point), has extensive information about the park. It is organized into sections: Life, Geology, History, and Restoration.

To reach the South Ridge Trail, start at the Devil's Slide parking lot and head east, parallel to the coast highway, up the gently sloping concrete ramp above the bus stop. At the end of the ramp, there is welcome sign and the beginning of a dirt trail that leads up to a flat clearing, which has a small indigenous plant nursery and the main park kiosk. The South Ridge and Arroyo Trail both start from here.

An amazing amount of reconstruction work has been done on South Ridge and Bluff trails, much of it by volunteers. (See pacifica-land-trust.org/pro… to help continue this work.) A few years ago, the South Ridge Trail was a steep, rutted fireroad that went straight up the hill. It is now wide and fairly smooth, with switchback-like curves added to reduce the grade. However, it is still a steep climb.

The trail climbs up above the pastures and trails of the Shamrock Ranch and the Devil's slide tunnels. There are a number of Monterey pines along the trail. As you climb higher, you are able to look over the Middle Ridge for views of the ocean and the Pacifica coast. Just before the summit, from a few feet north of the trail, you can get a good view of the entire park.

At 650 feet in elevation, the top of the South Ridge Trail is slightly higher than the two summits on the Bluff Trail. Looking south from here you have good views of San Pedro and Montara mountains. On the nearby slopes, the Old Half Moon Bay-Colma Road climbs up the mountain. The trail that heads down the mountain towards the tunnels is a private Shamrock Ranch trail. Looking west from the summit, you can see the inaccessible rocky beaches below.

A very visible, but unofficial, trail leads to a vantage point about 100 yards south. There are even better views from there, but poison oak may be a problem on this side-trail. Perhaps someday it will be widened and become an official trail.

The South Ridge Trail ends by dropping fairly steeply to the junction with the Arroyo Trail and the Bluff Trail.

Flora & Fauna

There are hundreds of native plants within the park. Part of the work being done is to suppress invasive species, repair the soil, and to restore native plants. Gray whales migrate south in late fall and north in early spring.

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Photos

South Ridge Trail, June 2005. Trail is a lot wider now.
Mar 26, 2019 near Pacifica, CA
When the rains are good, the flowers peak in mid-June.
Apr 1, 2019 near Pacifica, CA
Montara Mountain and Shamrock Ranch
Mar 26, 2019 near Pacifica, CA

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