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New Devil’s Slide Trail Opens to the Public on Thursday

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The new Devil's Slide Trail replaces a treacherous stretch of Highway 1. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

The new Devil’s Slide Trail replaces a treacherous stretch of Highway 1. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

Drivers have long been tempted to steal a quick glimpse of the rugged Northern California coastline below Highway 1, but with the opening of the new Devil’s Slide Trail visitors will be encouraged to stop and take it all in. This Thursday, San Mateo County Parks will open the new multi-use trail to the public, giving new life to the once-treacherous stretch of highway.

The trail features a fantastic array of wildlife and stunning views of the coast. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

The trail features a fantastic array of wildlife and stunning views of the coast. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

Since its opening in 1937, this strip of Highway 1 was notorious for its dangerous driving conditions and susceptibility to landslides. In 2013 Caltrans completed two 4,200-foot-long tunnels bypassing the worst section. That provided the opportunity to create this trail out of the unused strip of highway.

Members of the Devil's Slide Trail Ambassador Program will work with park staff to provide safety observations and visitor information. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

Members of the Devil’s Slide Trail Ambassador Program will work with park staff to provide safety observations and visitor information. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

“It’s really a fun walk,” said Don Traeger of Woodside, who was out walking his chocolate lab, Maverick. Traeger has been been a volunteer for San Mateo County Parks for over a year, and had early access to the trail. “After having driven it for so long, to finally just walk it and see all the things we miss because the road was so intense to drive.”

Don Traeger says his dog Maverick always wants to jump over the rail because it's so interesting on the other side. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

Don Traeger says his dog Maverick always wants to jump over the rail because it’s so interesting on the other side. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

“I just can’t wait until this trail opens and I get to see people enjoying Devil’s Slide,” said Marlene Finley, the San Mateo County Parks director. “Every time I’ve been out here I find that I want to stay longer than I’ve planned. We saw whales in December; we’ve seen dolphins.” And there are peregrine falcons nesting nearby, too, she added.

A researcher monitors nesting shorebirds from a peak above the new Devil's Slide Trail. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

A researcher monitors nesting shorebirds from a peak above the new Devil’s Slide Trail. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

The 1.3-mile trail is open to pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and dogs on leashes. It’s handicapped-accessible. There is no fee to visit and parking is available in lots at either end of the trail.

A bicyclist cruises along the Devil's Slide Trail. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

A bicyclist cruises along the Devil’s Slide Trail. (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

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About the Author ()

Joshua is a Multimedia Producer for KQED Science and the Lead Producer for Deep Look. After receiving his BS in Wildlife Biology from Ohio University, he went on to participate in marine mammal research for NOAA, USGS and the Intersea Foundation. He also served as the president of The Pacific Cetacean Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students K-6 about whales. Josh studied science and natural history filmmaking at San Francisco State University and Montana State University.
  • saimin

    Is it safe for families to bicycle to the trail from Half Moon Bay?

    • Clyde

      No
      There is no bicycle path past Montara, so you have to ride in 50mph traffic along rt 1

  • Realspear

    It looks like a nice trail but the parking lots are so small that we ended up driving down the coast a mile and walking on a different trail. The lots are laid out poorly and could easily have accommodated more cars.