A Walk on the Slide Side
Devil’s Slide Park
An old problem leads to a new park with a great, new walking/biking trail.
The problem was a series of rockslides that repeatedly closed Highway 1 near Pacifica. In 1983, the highway was closed for 87 days. It got worse. In 1995, it was closed for 159 days. Caltrans proposed to solve the problem with a six-lane freeway over Montara Mountain, but in 1996, 74 percent of San Mateo County voters demanded a tunnel instead. It took 17 years, but in 2013, Caltrans opened twin 4,200-foot tunnels through the mountain.
In addition to making Highway 1 safer and more esthetically pleasing, the old coastal road that ran along the coast around the tunnels is now available for other uses. San Mateo County invested $2 million to create a beautiful, new paved trail, with two lanes for bikes, and one dedicated to walkers. The park includes paved parking lots, bathrooms, drinking fountains, bike racks, interpretive signs, and bench seating with telescopes to enjoy the unobstructed views, 900 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Dogs on leash are welcome. Pet waste stations are available.
This short, 1.3-mile trail provides comfortable access to unique scenic beauty. It’s a great walk or bike ride, an educational, safe tour for children, and a great monument to the vision of San Mateo County voters.
We have two local contributors to this special trail. Mountain residents Gay Kraeger and Holly Reed are partners in WILDWAYS Illustrated, a full-service interpretive-design firm specializing in vivid watercolor illustrations of wildlife and landscapes. Their interpretive signs, exhibits, and displays appear in visitor centers, at overlooks, and along trails in federal, state, and county parks and preserves. Their interpretive signs give Devil’s Slide Park visitors the context for a better understanding of this place’s history and natural environment. They enrich the experience. Thank you, Gay and Holly.
The fastest route to the park, except during rush hour, is usually north on Highway 280, west on Highway 92, then north on Highway 1. The most scenic route is north on Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard), west on Highway 92, then north on Highway 1. (This alternative has the added advantage of lunch at Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside.)
If you like ocean views, take Highway 1, north, out of Santa Cruz.
Limited parking is available at both ends of the tunnel. When I drove in the south lot at 9:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning, the lot wasn’t filled, but when I returned about noon, several drivers were waiting for my space. Although the trail is open 24 hours a day, parking lots don’t open until 8 a.m.
On weekends, a free shuttle from the north end of the parking lot for Pacific State Beach (Linda Mar Beach) to the north end of the tunnel runs hourly, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (For a schedule, visit http://www.cityofpacifica.org.)
For more park information, call 650-355-8289.