We love a good NorCal beach day – that is, enormous rocky cliffs with crashing ocean waves, blasts of sea spray, and a strong wind that takes your breath away. We’re lucky to have expansive stretches of raw coastline all around the Bay Area, but this decommissioned highway is one of the most unique.
Devil’s Slide is the name given to a small area of coastline between Pacifica and Montara, which once held a landslide-prone section of Highway 1. After its construction in 1935, the road was frequently damaged during winter storms and had to be closed and repaired multiple times. Eventually in 2013, CalTrans diverted the highway into the Tom Lantos Tunnels and converted the abandoned roadway into a pedestrian- and bike-only zone.
The converted roadway is an approachable 1.2-mile paved trail with two small parking lots at both ends. The entire trail provides excellent ocean views where you can spot whales, seals, dolphins, nesting seabirds, and more. It’s equipped with observation scopes and benches throughout so you can capitalize on the wave-watching.
This trail is part of the enormous California Coastal Trail, which is a 1,200-mile trail in the works to eventually extend all the way from Oregon to Mexico.
Devil’s Slide is also home to some old WWII bunkers which served as a military triangulation station to locate ships before the invention of radar. The remaining structure has been graffitied over the years, but the bright colors make for some epic pictures against the natural cliff surroundings. Signs are up stating that the cliffs are not stable and it’s inadvisable to go near the bunker.
You can find Devil’s Slide Trail off of Highway 1 between Pacifica and Montara. Be advised that the parking lots are small so weekends can get quite crowded, and the only public transportation available is via SamTrans Route 17.