Sweeney Ridge, Linda Mar, and Planet of the Apes

Notes by piero scaruffi | See Travel resources
Other California destinations | California hikes | Bay Area hikes
Pictures of these hikes

This page describes the following hikes:

Sweeney Ridge to Linda Mar

Sweeney Ridge is situated 15 minutes south of San Francisco. It affords stunning views of both the Bay and the Ocean. From the south Bay: Take 280 north, take the hwy35 exit, turn left onto Sneath Ln, drive to the dead end. Park. From the north Bay: Take 280 south, take the Hwy 1 south exit, take 35 (skyline) south, turn right onto Sneath ln.

From the Sneath Ln parking lot to the top takes between 30 minutes and one hour. Before the top, there is a fork:

  • The trail to the right reaches the top and then descends to the Shelldance Nursery. Then you have to cross highway 1 in order to reach the beach. There is a tunnel but it is not trivial to find it: walk along highway 1 going north for about 100 meters past the first house. You are now just south of Sharp Park and of Pacifica. Walk along the road that heads to the beach. When you are almost at the beach, take the trail south that goes up and down the cliffs with magnificent views of the ocean (Mori Point). Continuing south on this trail, one reaches Linda Mar's beach.
  • The trail to the left splits: if you go straight, you eventually reach the end of the Ridge Trail; if you turn right, you descend towards Linda Mar (Baquiano Trail). The trail ends on Fassler Ave. Take the first opportunity to cross the hill south of Fassler Ave and you reach Linda Mar proper. You can walk south to the point where highway 1 starts climbing towards Devil's Slide.
These two trails can be used to make a loop. It takes between 30 and 45' from the top to the beach, and at least one hour from the beach to the top.

The main attraction of this hike is the view: 360-degree views from the ocean to Mt Diablo.

The trail from Sneath Ln to the top is about 5kms. The trail from the top to highway 1 is about 7kms. From highway 1 to the beach is about 1km.

From Linda Mar two little detours are also possible:

  1. To climb the hill overlooking Devil's Slide: cross at the traffic light (hwy 1 and San Pedro Ave) to get on the Taco Bell side, then walk to the end of the road. Right at the curve, you find a white building and an Italian restaurant. In between, there is a gate: that is the trailhead to the summit. After about 50 meters, it joins a fireroad. The fireroad winds its way up to the promontories overlooking the ocean with stunning views (in a good day). The road/tral ends just above a series of striped cliffs. On the right hand side on can see a secluded beach and the houses surrounding it.
    Directions to Linda Mar Blvd & Hwy 1: take Westborough exit off 280 and go west all the way, then south (left) on hwy 1 for 5 minutes. At that traffic light on the beach side, next to Taco Bell, there's a little shopping center with a couple of restaurants etc. Technically, it's the beginning of San Pedro Ave. Park there.
  2. To reach the beach below Devil's Slide (possible only with very low tide): cross at the San Pedro Avenue traffic light to get on the Taco Bell side, then walk to the beach and follow the contour of the beach south. It bends south. You have to walk over rocks and make sure you don't slip. How far you can go depends on how low the tide is.
  3. Tide information

Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail

This requires as permit. From Sweeney Ridge it is possible to hike south to connect with the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail , which descends towards the reservoir (about 15 kms) and ends at "Skyline Quarry Gate", 1 km west of the intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Highway 92 (drive up hwy 92 as if you are going to Half Moon Bay, but turn right into the gate about 500 meters after the traffic light, and then drive to the end of the road).

San Pedro Valley

It is not clear if it is possible to hike from Sweeney Ridge to San Pedro Valley Park. To hike San Pedro Valley: go back on hwy 35, turn left on hwy 35 and then left again on Sharp Ave, then left again on hwy 1 to Montara, then left on Linda Mar to the end of the road (600 Oddstad Boulevard, Pacifica). A trail of about 4kms takes you to the top of Montara Mountain. The Brooks Creek Trail (1.5 km) goes by the Brooks Falls (three-tier 50m drop, but visible only in winter and early spring).

McNee Ranch to Sweeney Ridge via Montara Mountain

A nice loop goes from McNee Ranch up to Montara Mountain's North Peak, then back down to the turnoff for San Pedro Valley Park, turn right to go downhill past the waterfalls to San Pedro Valley Park, then walk out to the street, turn left and look for Peralta Rd and Higgins Way, the trailhead to go straight back to McNee Ranch (see "Pacifica State Beach to Montara State Beach").

A more ambitious loop is

  • Park at McNee Ranch and take the Montara Mountain trail
  • Hike up to Montara Mountain's North Peak
  • Descend the same trail to the turnoff for San Pedro Valley Park
  • Turn right to go downhill past the waterfalls to San Pedro Valley Park
  • Walk out to the street, turn right and turn left on Everblades
  • Turn right into Fassler Blvd to its end
  • Take the Baquiano trail to Sweeney Ridge
  • Turn left to the old missile sites and go down the Mori trail
  • Cross highway 1 (there is an underpass)
  • The other side is Mori Point
  • Walk up to Mori Point (follow the signs for "The Point")
  • Turn left on the coastal trail that heads south
  • This trail connects to the Linda Mar beach via Rockaway Beach
  • Cross highway 1 again at the traffic light for Linda Mar
  • Walk up Linda Mar two long blocks and turn right into Peralta Rd
  • Follow Peralta until it turns into Higgins Way and continue to the dead end
  • This is the trailhead to go straight back to McNee Ranch (see "Pacifica State Beach to Montara State Beach").

See this page

There is also a paved pedestrian area that runs parallel to highway 1 along the coast in the section called "Devil's Slide". This takes you to the Gray Whale Cove trailhead, a steep ascent that connects with the trail going to Montara Mountain.


Linda Mar to North Peak to Montara (Planet of the Apes)

Take Highway 1 south past Rockaway State Beach in Pacifica to Linda Mar Blvd (as of 2010, Taco Bell on your right, Denny's on your left). Turn left into Linda Mar Blvd, then right into Adobe Dr, then right into Higgins Way to the dead end, which is the trailhead and the Old Pedro Mountain Road. You can still see the old asphalt. (If you follow your navigator and it sends you to Shamrock Ranch, you are in the wrong place). Old Pedro Mountain Road goes up around the hills all the way to North Peak and to Montara Mountain. As of 2019, the trail ends there: there is a gate with a "no trespassing" sign. Retrace your steps about 5 minutes and turn left into the first trail. There is no sign (as of 2019) but that's Alta Vista trail. It is a very steep downhill trail that ends on Alta Vista Rd. But when you get to the giant circular water tank, you can take a tiny trail to the right (extremely steep), probably named Farallone trail (but there is no sign as of 2019) that will take you (after a number of junctions with bigger trails) to Old Pedro Mountain Rd (again, no sign as of 2019, but this is easy to recognize because Old Pedro Mountain Rd is sort of paved). That's the end of the downhill. Turn right and continue to the equestrian center. At the equestrian center look for a bridge: you turn left onto that bridge and shortly afterwards you hit the junction with North Peak Rd that comes up from the nearby trailhead (the main trailhead for McNee Ranch off highway 1 right across from Montara Beach). Turn left into this road for one minute and then turn right into Old Pedro Mountain Rd. This will take you back to Pacifica. However, most hikers don't like this old road as it makes wide switchbacks. For a prettier option, turn left into the Gray Whale Cove trail and immediately right into an unname steep uphill trail (not marked on official maps). This trail is very steep but easy to follow and it affords great views of Devil's Slide. When you least expect it, you hit the Old Pedro Mountain Rd again. Turn left and keep ascending. Don't miss the signs for Pacifica because this road eventually forks: the right side would take you back to Montara Mountain. You want to follow Old Pedro Mountain Rd, which is the left side, coasting a ravine (you can see one of the cars that in ancient times crashed down there). The whole area is also known as "Planet of the Apes".


Pacifica State Beach to Montara State Beach (Planet of the Apes)

Take Highway 1 south past Rockaway State Beach in Pacifica to Linda Mar Blvd (as of 2010, Taco Bell on your right, Denny's on your left). Turn left into Linda Mar Blvd, then right into Adobe Dr, then right into Higgins Way to the dead end, which is the trailhead and the Old Pedro Mountain Road. You can still see the old asphalt. (If you follow your navigator and it sends you to Shamrock Ranch, you are in the wrong place). Old Pedro Mountain Road goes up around the hills all the way to North Peak. At one point you can take an unpaved short cut to get straight to the coast trail (with awesome views of the coast all the way to San Francisco). If you are on the paved fireroad, eventually you reach a crossroad. If you are on the shortcut, turn left when you hit the coast trail, and then you'll reach the same crossroad. Bear right (take the road that goes down towards the ocean) and, after a few switchbacks, you reach a trailhead (no bikes, no horses). This trail goes down quite steep towards Montara. Take any of the side trails on your right-hand side that will take you (down a very steep slope) to a lower trail, which is basically parallel to Highway 1. You have bypassed Devil's Slide. This lower trail (after passing benches overlooking the ocean) reaches Highway 1. Cross the street and look for the stairs to go down to the beach. The whole area is also known as "Planet of the Apes".