Last November I wrote about the end of daylight savings time, grumbling about the beginning of the shorter days of winter. Little did I know that in addition to shorter days, we would endure long bouts of rainy weather, making hiking tough to enjoy.
We’ve finally made it to March and Daylight Saving Time has returned, but the rain has persisted. Lately, some long awaited sunny, dry days have appeared, and I hope it’s just a promise of more to come. I’m ready to hit the trails.
One of my favorite spots for an after work stroll is in Pacifica at Mori Point, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I’ve been walking the trails here for more than 10 years, and the improvements that have been made since my first outing are remarkable, thanks to the Parks Conservancy and countless dedicated volunteers. What used to be a maze of workable footpaths around the cliffs and hills off the coast is now a well-demarcated series of tidy trails side by side with natural habitats that have been painstakingly restored.
Public parking is available between the Pacifica Pier and the Sharp Park Golf Course. The pier is a fun spot to visit when the sea is rough, offering the spectators views of the pounding surf. At the base of the pier, you can enjoy a coffee and a sheltered view from the Chit Chat Café.
South of the pier, near the Sharp Park Golf Course, you’ll find a wide dirt trail that is elevated above the dark sands of Sharp Park Beach. This is a great, easy trail to enjoy for a quick sunset stroll after work at less than two miles out and back.
At the end of the beachside trail is where the exploration of the newly mapped trails begins. Directly ahead you’ll find the Bootlegger’s Stairs, a long staircase that heads straight to the top of the bluff, where the panoramic views of cliffs and coastline are worth the workout.
If you want a more gradual ascent, turn left and head for the Old Mori Road, Coastal and Lishumsha Trails. All are marked with trail signs, and offer switchbacks that head up the hillside at an easier grade.
Taking these paths also allows you to see the extensive trail work that’s been completed, including restoration of the frog ponds that many ducks enjoy. A series of helpful interpretive trail signs also pop up along the path, offering information on the history of this area, from the Native American inhabitants to the infamous speakeasies.
Which ever way you decide to climb to the top, you’ll find the views worth your time. Once you hit the bluff’s summit, signs point the way to more trails that wind into the hills to the east, or continue south along the stunning coastline. To the west is a footpath that ends at The Point, the edge of the cliff, offering a closer look at the surf – but not too close, as the signs clearly warn!
In the coming months I’ll make an effort to spend more time outdoors, during what I hope will be another of the long periods of dry weather that we enjoy in the Bay Area. I’ll think back on this winter’s succession of soggy trail shoes and mud-splattered socks, and remind myself to get outside and enjoy the sun while it lasts. November will be here again before we know it.
Have you wanted to volunteer at Mori Point, or other GGNRA parks? April is Service Month in the parks, so there’s no time like the present. Visit their website to see how you can help with trail work, habitat restoration, weeding and planting, beach clean up and more!