Friday, October 2, 2015

A short paved segment of the California Coastal Trail between Oregon and Mexico: Devil's Slide Trail

A paved path through a landscape of coastal erosion: Devil's Slide Trail
After the opening of the Tom Lantos Tunnels, also called Devil's Slide Tunnels—two road tunnels now bypasses a two-lane segment of State Route 1 between Pacifica and Montara in San Mateo County, California—the 1.3-mile-long coastal highway stretch was updated and beautified to become a paved multi-track hiking and bicycling trail with spectacular ocean overlook platforms. It is named Devil's Slide Trail due to the history of rockfalls and landslides that frequently happen along this part of the Californian coast with the San Andreas Fault meeting the Pacific Ocean a few miles further north. A Devil's Slide information panel describes this trail within California's varied and ever-changing landscapes as follows:

The 1.3-mile-long Devil's Slide Trail is built on what was once a treacherous stretch of Highway 1 and the site of frequent landslides, accidents, and closures. When the Tom Lantos Tunnels opened in 2013, the San Mateo County Parks Department began converting this segment of the old highway to this public multi-use, non-motorized trail.
The trail opened in 2014, and offers spectacular ocean views and unparalleled opportunities for viewing birds and marine mammals.
The Devil's Slide Trail is a section of the California Coastal Trail, which will extend 1,200 miles from Oregon to Mexico.

San Pedro Point seen from Devil's Slide Trail
A Devil's Slide vista device with San Pedro Point in the background
Occasional detourings may be required, since Devil's Slide continues to slide into the Pacific Ocean, and the rising ocean keeps attacking the Devil's bottom, accelerating the erosion bottom-up.
A bird's-eye view of birds at the Devil's bottom
While strolling or recreating along the easily accessible, well-maintained Devil's Slide Trail between the Pedro Point Headlands and the west-side slopes of San Pedro Mountain, your escape strategies during a strong earthquake are very limited. High walls and slippery slopes on one side; steep, unsafe cliffs on the other, dropping down to a beach or into the pounding ocean surf. If this would be a mine site or a construction area, hard hats would certainly be required. But the Devil's Slide coast, today, is a preserve-like open space celebrating successful restoration efforts to regrow Common Murre colonies. The natural uniqueness, refreshing sea breezes and amazing views lets one forget potential natural hazards.
North Devil's Slide trailhead

Along the trail you will find many interpreted panels informing about Devil's Slide history, the big squeeze, land protection, environmentalist Ollie Mayer, seabird colonies and much more about the local natural history.

Getting to the Devil's Slide trailheads

Devil's Slide Trail is a San Mateo County Park. There are trailheads at either end of the trail, which can be accessed before entering or after leaving a Tom Lantos Tunnel. Parking lots are limited.

The south trailhead is on the west side of Highway 1, about two miles north of the Montara State Beach parking area.

The north trailhead is to your right, after driving southbound on Highway 1 for about one mile from Pacifica. A trail that will connect the north trailhead with Pacifica is in planning.

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