It used to be a treacherous stretch of highway. And now it’s an insanely beautiful stretch of paved trail. Perched high and hugging some of California’s most scenic coastline, the Devil’s Slide section of the California Coastal Trail opened two years ago. This 1.3-mile (one-way) multi-use path just south of Pacifica is usually much less crowded when gray skies and rain are around, and it’s a prime spot for viewing all that’s wild about the weather and the sea. Bring your raincoat and start on the out-and-back asphalt path from either trailhead. Follow the path as it meanders and curves to huge cliff-hugging views of the Pacific, Pedro Rock, and numerous sea stacks and small islands often thrashed by storm-swelling waves. You’re high enough to observe the drama safely and can take a closer look via an on-site viewing telescope (50 cents, please). Benches and informational placards pepper the pathway. Aside from the rumble-tumble of the Pacific, keep an eye out for jutting Egg Rock, home to the once endangered common murres now making a comeback due to conservation efforts. You’ll also see the precipitous and off-limits stairway cutting up and into the side of a hulking cliff that was once a strategic military surveillance base. Return the way you came.
BONUS BEER & FOOD: Post-hike, grab a beer and lunch at Devil’s Slide Taproom in Pacifica. The new taproom specializes in the West Coast craft scene with 32 beers on tap and a tasty menu with everything from burgers to salads and a delicious fried chicken sandwich (try their homemade ketchup for a bit of extra kick).
Park at the Devil’s Slide trailhead parking lot, off Hwy. 1 just before the Devil’s Slide Tunnel, heading southbound (there’s another trailhead and parking lot at the southern end of the tunnel). Make sure to arrive early on weekends; the lot fills up quickly. Additionally, the City of Pacifica operates a free weekend shuttle that arrives at the northern trailhead. Dog-friendly!