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Sweeney Ridge, Golden Gate NP Conservancy

Explore the history of the Bay Area from atop Sweeney Ridge, or just come to admire the great coastal scenery.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  Twelve hundred feet above the Pacific Ocean the Sweeney Ridge trail traverses the most northerly part of the Santa Cruz coastal range ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead - Sneath Lane

Of the three different approaches to Sweeney Ridge, the gently ascending paved trail from Sneath Lane is the most forgiving. You may have to share the trail with an occasional cyclist, but you'll appreciated the views over the eastern side of the peninsula as you climb including the long expanse of San Andreas Lake.

1.7 miles later you'll be... More

2. Trailhead - Skyline College

The trail from Skyline College to the Nike missile base leads from suburbia to coastal chaparral to hilltop in 1½ miles, rewarding the hiker with impressive views in all directions.

The initial climb immediately reveals westerly views overlooking Rockaway Beach and the ocean beyond, and only half a mile into the hike there are impressive views... More

3. Trailhead - Mori Ridge

The Mori Ridge trail climbs steadily up through over 1,000 feet of height - some of which is steep enough to make a regular walking gait difficult, and only the most kamikaze trail runner would attempt.

This trail is a perfect choice for an out-and-back trail, if you're planning to head back as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, and the... More

4. Trailhead - Cattle Hill (Unofficial)

We recommend only using this trailhead as part of a return 7-mile loop trail from Mori Ridge. The faint and fairly steep trail which runs from the top of Cattle Hill to the Church next to Route 1 is difficult to identify from below.

Also note that this trail crosses private land and may be considered an unofficial trail. No parking is available... More

5. Trailhead - Estella Drive

The 1.4 mile hike up Baquiano trail covers the distance to the Portola discovery site in the shortest distance and least elevation gain (500ft).

A great route into the hills for local residents, or those who'd like to combine a hike of Sweeney Ridge with a day at the great Linda Mar beach nearby.

6. Portola Discovery Site

In the fall of 1769 it was on this ridgeline that Spanish army officer Gaspar de Portola recorded the discovery of the San Francisco Bay, which became a defensive stronghold for the Spanish military and a valuable sheltered port.

7. Nike Missile Base

Built during the 1950s to defend San Francisco from Cold War era threats, the Nike missile base built here on top of Sweeney Ridge was one of eleven defensive Nike sites located around the Bay Area.

Left derelict in the mid 1970s, the buildings here remain relatively intact - possibly held together by the generations of graffiti paint which now... More

8. Trail Boundary

Sweeney Ridge ends abruptly at a gate, and the start of the protected Crystal Springs Watershed. Pressure is on local authorities to open the trail from here to Montara Mountain, but until that happens this is as far as you can go here.

9. [JCT] Sweeney Ridge/Baquiano Trail

10. [JCT] Baquiano/Cattle Hill Trails

11. [JCT] Mori Ridge/Skyline Trail

12. [JCT] Sneath Lane/Sweeney Ridge