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Devil’s Slide to reopen: Historic coastal route becomes unique park
March 26, 2014, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily

Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Volunteers Greg Keeney and Reba Friedman hike along the new Devil’s Slide Trail.

Volunteer Amy Sullivan reads an informational panel while taking in a scenic coastal view.

For the first time in decades, the public will have the opportunity to leisurely take in one of the county’s most scenic sights as the Devil’s Slide Trail opens tomorrow.

The 1.3-mile stretch just south of Pacifica was sectioned off from Highway 1 at the opening of the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide exactly one year ago and is the newest San Mateo County park. 

The gates will open 1 p.m. Thursday for visitors who wish to hike, bike, walk dogs or ride horses along the road to marvel at the coastal geography and ocean views.   

Amy Sullivan, an avid hiker, jumped at the opportunity to serve as a Devil’s Slide Trail volunteer.

“I’m just an ocean lover anyway but it was funny when you were driving through here you just didn’t get that sense of how spectacular it is. But walking, it just feels bigger than life,” Sullivan said. “It’s just a spectacular stretch and Devil’s Slide, it has this whole aura to it and I’m just so delighted that they decided to put the effort into making it a trail.” 

Thanks to the $2 million revamp funded by the Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans and the county, the public will be able to see Devil’s Slide like never before, said Marlene Finley, director of San Mateo County Parks Department. 

“You’re right on the edge of the ocean and so many people remember having drove Highway 1 and not being able to take their eyes off the road. But now you get this opportunity to see these places and spend more time.” Finley said. 

The trail was repaved and the new park includes 42 parking spaces, two handicap spaces and two RV spaces spread between two parking lots. There is a lot on each end of the trail, with the northern lot only accessible when traveling south. Other amenities include restrooms, drinking fountains, bike racks and informational panels. 

There are three overlook sites with benches and observation scopes to allow visitors to observe marine life such as harbor and elephant seals, dolphins, sharks, sea lions and whales. There are also an array of fowl such as falcons, pelicans, murres and gulls. 

The site is historic and there are numerous explanatory panels. Devil’s Slide was once used by the Ocean Shore Railroad but closed due to erosion and landslides. Deirdra Kennedy, board member of the Pacifica Historical Society, relishes her ability to travel the path by foot. 

“It’s enchanting, I just close my eyes and I can hear the train whistle,” Kennedy said. “It’s a marvelous experience and we hope to also have historic walks.” 

The county is looking at creating connecting trails. One would be the Green Valley Trail, which would start at the southern portion of Devil’s Slide Trail and exit by Gray Whale Cove, Finley said. Eventually, county officials would like to create trails from Pacifica to Montara, but that could take years to complete, Finley said.

The park has a lot to offer and it’s exciting to reopen this special part of the coast to the public, Finley said.

“It’s unique because of the active geology, the history, the tradition. You’ll see the bunker site from World War II, there’s just a lot of culture. There’s natural resources and it’s a place to also get active in the parks whether it’s walking, riding a bicycle, also walking dogs on leashes … it’s open to horses too,” Finley said. 

About 40 to 60 people have signed up to volunteer and they expect the trail to be well used because “it’s so accessible, lots of people that don’t even hike will be able to use it,” Sullivan said.

There is an opening ceremony that quickly sold out, however, the trail will be ready for use starting 1 p.m. Thursday.

“I just can’t wait until this trail opens and I get to see people enjoying Devil’s Slide,” Finley said. “It makes me want to linger. It’s just every time I’ve been out here I find I want to stay out here longer than I planned.”

 

For more information about the Devil’s Slide Trail visit www.SMCoParks.org. Parking is limited at the Devil’s Slide Trail. The SamTrans Route 17 heading south on Highway 1 will offer stops at the park and the city of Pacifica will operate a free shuttle from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. For more information about the shuttle visit www.cityofpacifica.org.

samantha@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

 

 

Tags: trail, slide, devil, finley, county, there,


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