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San Bruno Mountain Summit

April 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Located just south of San Francisco, San Bruno Mountain is a great destination for urban dwellers looking for nature close to home. San Bruno Mountain is a favorite spot for wildflower viewing in the Spring and a year-round hiking option. Starting at Daly City BART, this hike takes a neighborhood route to the park, climbs to the mountain’s summit and back down again via a loop trail, and ends at Balboa Park BART.

Places visited: San Bruno Mountain State and County Park
Approximate length: 9 miles
Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Map: San Bruno Mountain Park (PDF)
Terrain: Mix of flat sections and gradual climbing on paved and dirt trails.
Transit schedule: BART
Start point: Daly City BART
End point: Balboa Park BART

Getting to the starting point:

  • From San Francisco, take BART to Daly City.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, and get off at Daly City.
  • From the East Bay, take BART to Daly City.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Hyde and Grove streets (just before Market Street), and walk to the Civic Center BART station on Market Street. Take BART to Daly City.

Notes:

  • A number of variations on this hike are possible. From the mountain’s summit, you can hike out and back along the ridge a ways (note that the Ridge Trail does not connect to neighborhoods in Brisbane, so you will need to return the way you came). For a shorter and less steep hike, take the Saddle Loop Trail from the Old Guadalupe Trail. Or, take the Dairy Ravine and/or Eucalyptus trails with the Summit Loop Trail for a short loop hike.
  • This hike is pleasant even after heavy rains. The muddiest section is a very short section from the small parking lot at the start of the loop. An alternative to this section is to walk along Radio Road  and then turn right to connect to the Summit Loop. Despite its name, the Bog Trail should be passable after wet weather, but feel free to take the paved Old Guadalupe Trail both ways if this is not the case.
  • Be prepared for foggy and/or windy weather at San Bruno Mountain, especially during the summer.
  • Food options are available on Mission Street near the end of the hike. There are several good spots in the park to stop and eat a bag lunch.

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Edgewood County Park From Cañada College

February 6, 2010 2 comments

This car-free trip takes you to Edgewood County Park, a favorite spot for wildflower viewing in the Spring and a pleasant hiking spot year-round. Starting at Cañada College, you will hike a portion of the Crystal Springs Trail to connect with Edgewood. After looping through Edgewood and stopping at a viewpoint, you’ll exit the park on a different trail to head back to Cañada College.

Places visited: Edgewood County Park, Crystal Springs Trail
Approximate Length: 9.75 miles
Hiking Time: 5 hours
Map: Edgewood County Park (PDF), Cañada College
Terrain: Mix of flat sections and moderate climbs on dirt trails
Transit schedule: SamTrans 274 (PDF)
Start and end point: SamTrans stop at Cañada College, Redwood City

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take Caltrain south to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.
  • From the East Bay, take a Millbrae BART train. Depending on the day and time, you may need to transfer to the Millbrae train. At Millbrae, go to the southbound Caltrain waiting area. Take Caltrain south to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Howard and Fourth Street, and walk south on Fourth Street to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets. (Note that on the way back you will pick up the Golden Gate Transit bus on Folsom rather than Howard. Take Caltrain south to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.

Notes:

  • Make sure to pack a lunch for this hike, as there are no food options near the start and end point on Saturdays and limited options at campus food vendors during the week. If you take the bus from the Redwood City Caltrain station, the adjacent shopping center has a Safeway and takeout food options. Across the street from the shopping center (on El Camino Real) is a Whole Foods market and deli.
  • The hike as described can be done on weekdays and Saturdays. The SamTrans 274 route does not run on Sundays. As of this writing the last bus leaves Cañada College at 5:05 pm on Saturdays.
  • You can use this basic route to get to Edgewood County Park, but vary your route through the park. The suggested route is ideal for wildflower viewing. The Sylvan Trail loop is a nice shady option during the summer months. It would also be possible to take trail along Cañada Road to or from Edgewood, but I don’t recommend this option. The trail runs right alongside Cañada, which is a very popular bike route on the weekends. Along portions of the Crystal Springs Trail you’ll have some freeway noise, but you may have the trail to yourself save for the occasional equestrian.

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Pacifica Coastal Hike: Mori Point and Beaches, Three Ways

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

This trip to the Pacifica coastal region demonstrates the flexibility of using transit to do hikes that would normally require a car shuttle. Three options for this hike are described: one-way up the coast, an out-and-back trip, and up the coast and over the ridge. On all of the hikes, you’ll have the chance to walk out to the tip of Mori Point and to enjoy the beaches of Pacifica. The third option adds a vigorous hike up to Sweeney Ridge for additional views.

Places visited: Linda Mar Beach, Rockaway State Beach, Mori Point (Golden Gate National Recreation Area), Sharp Park State Beach, Sweeney Ridge
Approximate length: 6 miles (option 1), 8.5 (option 2), 8.75 (option 3)
Hiking time: 3 1/2 to 4 hours (option 1), 4 to 4 1/2 hours (option 2), 5 hours (option 3)
Map: Mori Point
Terrain: Paved and dirt paths. Mostly flat with a couple of moderate uphill sections (options 1 and 2), Flat sections and moderate to steep uphills (option 3)
Transit schedule: SamTrans (download current schedules for routes 110, 112, and 140)
Start point: SamTrans 110 (and 112) stop, Linda Mar Park and Ride Lot, Pacifica
End point: SamTrans 112 stop, Westport and Lundy (option 1), Linda Mar Park and Ride Lot (option 2), SamTrans 140 stop, Skyline College (option 3)

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take BART to Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, and get off at Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop. SamTrans 112, leaving from Colma BART, is another option for those living near the station or near Serramonte Shopping Center.
  • From the East Bay, take BART to Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Hyde and Grove streets (just before Market Street), and walk to the Civic Center BART station on Market Street. Take BART to Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop.

Notes:

  • The hike options are described in order of difficulty. The first two hikes are mostly flat with a couple of moderate climbs. Option 3 is more challenging, requiring a steep hike up to the ridge. Even if you think you know which hike you plan to do, I recommend printing or noting the times from all three SamTrans transit schedules (110, 112, 140). That way you can easily change your mind and do one of the other hikes.
  • Pacifica can be foggy, particularly in the summer. Fall and early winter are your best options for clear views and mild weather. The hikes can still be enjoyed on foggy days; as with all coastal hikes, bring warm clothing. For wildflower viewing at Mori Point, do this hike in the spring.
  • There are number of options for food along the route through Pacifica: at the beginning of the hike in Linda Mar Shopping Center, in Rockaway Beach, and a couple of options when your route reaches Highway 1 and Reina Del Mar. If you are doing the shortest hike, you may also want to wander inland from the pier/turnaround point to find additional options between the coast and Highway 1. If you plan on doing option 3, I recommend bring extra snacks, as there will not be food options at the end of this hike.
  • On my visit in 2009, the current Mori Point trail system did not exactly match the brochure’s map due to restoration efforts. The park is well-signed and mapped, however; you can easily check your map and adjust the route accordingly or explore other trails that have been opened since the time of this writing. If you are looking for more information beyond what is offered in the park brochure, Bay Nature magazine has a very nice history of the land.

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Rancho San Antonio Trails to Black Mountain Peak

November 13, 2009 5 comments

Black Mountain Trail -- by Jen English

This challenging hike uses the Rhus Ridge and Black Mountain trails in Rancho San Antonio to reach the 2810-foot peak of Black Mountain just across the border in Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. The route from Foothill College also provides a small sampling of the extensive Los Altos Hills town path system.

Places visited: Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, Monte Bello Open Space Preserve (small portion), Los Altos Hills paths
Approximate Length: 11.75 miles (see notes for shorter option)
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Map: Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, Foothill College campus map
Terrain: Steep and very steep trails in Rancho San Antonio; flat paved streets and paths to and from the trailhead
Transit Schedule: VTA Route 40
Start and end point: VTA Route 40, Foothill College stop

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take Caltrain south to the San Antonio stop. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus.
  • From the Peninsula, take Caltrain to the San Antonio stop. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus. Mountain View and Los Altos residents should check the map to see if they can pick up VTA Route 40 elsewhere along its route.
  • From the East Bay, Take BART to its final stop in Millbrae. Walk to the southbound Caltrain platform, and take Caltrain to San Antonio station. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Howard and Fourth Street, and walk south on Fourth Street to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets. (Note that on the way back you will pick up the Golden Gate Transit bus on Folsom rather than Howard. Take Caltrain south to the San Antonio stop. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus.

Notes:

  • This is a strenuous hike, with especially steep sections near the top of the peak. Bring plenty of water, even in cool weather. If you have not been hiking in some time, you may want to work up to the full hike gradually by going part of the way up and coming back down again. You will still get plenty of exercise and enjoy good views along the way!
  • Please note that this trip as described can be done on weekdays and Saturdays, but not on Sundays. On Sundays, the VTA route does not run all of the way up to Foothill College. Although you could find an interesting route from bus route’s Sunday endpoint (San Antonio and Lyell) using more of the Los Alto Hills paths, it would add more distance and elevation to an already challenging hike. Therefore, I have not included an option from the Sunday endpoint for this particular hike. I will include a link here to any future hikes posted here that describe the route from the Sunday endpoint. On Saturdays, the last bus leaves Foothill College at 6:23 pm. Weeknights the last bus leaves at 10 p.m., making this is a potential evening hike during daylight savings time.
  • This hike’s starting point is most easily reached from the Peninsula/South Bay and San Francisco. It is a long transit ride requiring three modes of transportation for East Bay and North Bay residents. If you are interested in visiting the Bay Area’s highest peaks, it’s definitely worth the trip!
  • If you are not familiar with Foothill College, I recommend printing and bringing along the campus map. Note on the map that Foothill has three bus stops. Although you can get on and off at any of these stops for this hike, I recommend exiting at the first campus stop (campus center) at the beginning of the hike. There should be plenty of students getting off at this stop, but you can always ask the bus driver if you are uncertain. This gives you a chance to visit the restrooms (none at the trailhead), apply sunscreen, etc. On the way back from the hike, you can wait at the third of the three bus stops (at the edge of campus in Lot 8), which is a shorter walk.
  • You will notice some additional paths on your route back to Foothill College. Feel free to explore these paths if you have the energy, or you could make a separate trip to wander and explore the Los Altos Hills paths. The path map is not available online, but you can pick up a printed copy at Los Altos Hills town hall.  The entrance to a Los Altos Hills path is generally indicated with a wooden post engraved with “PATH”.  Avoid wandering down other unmarked paths as they will very likely take you onto private property.
  • Pack a lunch for this hike. Food vendors at Foothill College are closed on the weekend. Near the VTA bus stop at Showers and California there are plenty of options for food before or after your hike: Trader Joe’s, Safeway, the Milk Pail Market, Whole Foods Market (all of these indicated on the Google Maps map of the area) and several takeout chain restaurants. If you are connecting with Caltrain on the way back, you can eat your food on the train.

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Sweeney Ridge and Milagra Ridge Along the Bay Area Ridge Trail

October 8, 2009 2 comments

Sweeney Ridge

This excursion to Sweeney Ridge starts at the Skyline College trailhead and travels to the remains of one of the Bay Area’s Nike missile site control stations and on to a plaque at the site of Spanish explorer Juan Gaspar de Portola’s discovery of the San Francisco Bay. An optional side trip continues along the ridgeline (part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail) on the other side of Skyline College to Milagra Ridge. Milagra, the habitat of several rare and endangered species, also has military remains including a World War II gun battery.

Places visited: Sweeney Ridge (and Milagra Ridge on optional side trip), both part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area; segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail
Approximate Length:4.5 miles (7.75 miles with optional side trip to Milagra Ridge)
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours (4.5-6 hours total with optional side trip to Milagra Ridge)
Map: Skyline College campus, Sweeney Ridge (PDF), Milagra Ridge (PDF)
Terrain: Moderate ups and downs on dirt, stairs, and paved trails.
Transit schedule: SamTrans 140

Start and end point: SamTrans bus stop at Skyline College, San Bruno
Getting to the starting point:

  • From San Francisco, take an SFO/Millbrae BART train to San Bruno. Exit the station at the Bus/Garage side and turn right for a 2-3 minute walk to the SamTrans bus area. Take SamTrans Route 140 to the Skyline College stop (this is not the end of the line, but will be an announced stop).
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay: San Bruno and Pacifica residents can pick up SamTrans Route 140 along its route from San Bruno BART to Pacific Manor Shopping Center in Pacifica. If you are north of San Bruno, take the SFO/Millbrae BART train (from Daly City, Colma, or South San Francisco) and follow the same directions for San Francisco. If you are south of San Bruno, you can either take BART  from Millbrae north to San Bruno, or take Caltrain and transfer at Millbrae to BART. On weekends, the northbound BART train will go through SFO and then to San Bruno, and will be an SF/Pittsburg/Bay Point train. Exit the station at the Bus/Garage side and turn right for 2-3 minute walk to the SamTrans bus area. Take SamTrans Route 140 to the Skyline College stop (this is not the end of the line, but will be an announced stop).
  • From the East Bay, take an SFO/Millbrae BART train to San Bruno. If you are coming from a line other than Pittsburg/Bay Point on the weekend, you will transfer to the SFO/Millbrae train at either MacArthur or 12th Street. Exit the station at the Bus/Garage side and turn right for a 2-3 minute walk to the SamTrans bus area. Take SamTrans Route 140 to the Skyline College stop (this is not the end of the line, but will be an announced stop).
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at the Hyde St. and Grove St. (just before Market Street). Walk to Market St. and down the stairs into Civic Center BART station. Take an SFO/Millbrae BART train to San Bruno. Exit the station at the Bus/Garage side and turn right for a 2-3 minute walk to the SamTrans bus area. Take SamTrans Route 140 to the Skyline College stop (this is not the end of the line, but will be an announced stop).

Notes:

  • Sweeney Ridge and Milagra Ridge can be foggy, especially in the summer. Bring extra layers for this hike, as this ridgetop is also exposed to the wind in parts.
  • This route is structured so that you visit Sweeney Ridge first, with the option of continuing on to Milagra Ridge. Feel free to reverse the trip, or go only to Milagra Ridge if you wish. If you visit Sweeney Ridge first, however, you will be able to see Milagra Ridge ahead of you on the way back to the college and get a good idea whether it will be foggy or clear.
  • Pack a lunch or snack for this hike, as there are nice spots to sit and enjoy the view near the Portola Discovery site. There aren’t many food options except at the Tanforan Mall, which is at the San Bruno BART station and SamTrans 140 stop. If you wish to stop at the food court (standard food court fare; there are also restrooms here), walk straight ahead as you exit the BART station. When you enter the mall, you will be in the food court.
  • On weekends the SamTrans bus runs at hour intervals, and the last bus leaves Skyline College at 6:20 pm. To time your hike so that you are not waiting too long for the bus at the end of your hike, make a note of how long it takes you to get from Skyline College to the Discovery Site, and assume the same time to return. Then you can decide how long you want to spend at the Discovery site and/or exploring the Nike missile site remains. The bus stop has a lawn beside it and is a pleasant place to wait for the bus.
  • During daylight savings time, Peninsula residents could easily do this as an early evening hike on weekdays (the last 140 bus leaves Skyline at 10:45 pm).  Also on weekday evenings, SamTrans 121 runs up until 10:18 pm from Skyline College to Colma and Daly City BART.
  • The National Park Service has a short essay on the Portola Discovery Site, in addition to the information provided in the map and brochure listed above.
  • Milagra Ridge is quite small, and you will note that other trails cross and loop to and from the suggested route. Once you have entered Milagra Ridge, feel free to wander on your own to get to different vantage points in the park.

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