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Media Sneak Peek at New Devil's Slide Trail


By John Maybury, Editor & Publisher

On this perfectly drizzly coastal Tuesday, a gaggle of county park people and media types walked along the new Devil's Slide Trail to see the sights before the trail's official opening March 27.

Reporters interviewed rangers, with the beautiful backdrop of ocean waves and dramatic rock formations (like San Pedro Rock, above) below the formerly treacherous roadway, which now is transformed at a cost of almost $2 million into a 1.3-mile-long pedestrian/equestrian/bicycle path, connecting at both ends to the California Coastal Trail.

The trail opens from 8 a.m. to sunset, year-round. Limited parking is available at either end of the trail. Daily SamTrans #17 buses and weekend-only free Pacifica shuttles offer rides to and from the trail. All buses have bike racks on the front. For schedules and other information, see and

Viewing sites, benches, restrooms, bike racks, drinking fountains, interpretive signs, and pet stations are in place. Leashed dogs are allowed. For more information, see




Rock layers on mountainside (top), cave opening mistakenly believed to be one end of the old Ocean Shore Railroad tunnel (middle), Bunker Hill (bottom)

Photos by John Maybury


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Dan: I have heard the same story about the rats on the Farallon Islands. In fact, I have seen huge rats swimming out in the water quite a ways off the Farallones.

True that it is a cave. The Ocean Shore Railroad was never that close to the rocks and ocean.

If you hike up above Devil's Slide from Higgins, you will know that the earth is moving far above the slide. Caltrans has monitoring equipment up on the hill above the slide about 100 yards from the edge.

You can see huge fissures in the earth up there. Quite amazing!

John: That rock has always been called Bird Shit Rock.

The big rock off Devil's Slide has always been white, covered in guano, until about two years ago, but is now as you see it in the top photo. It is clean as a whistle. I was talking to a fisherman who had fished down there who was speculating that rats had made it from the shore to the rock, causing birds to no longer nest there. It sounds plausible and I haven't a better speculation to suggest.

Again, that hole is not the Ocean Shore Railroad tunnel. The shoreline at the base of Devil's Slide and out to Pedro Point is rocky and is not eroding quickly. Bill Bechtell identified some individual large rocks in old photos that are in the same location today with respect to the hillside. The base of the entire rocky stretch is not being undermined by wave action to any significant degree. Shoreline erosion had nothing to do with causing the infrequent, road-disrupting landslides on Devil's Slide every 10-15 years, and is of little concern in this particular location as sea level rises due to climate change.

After many years of driving this section of road daily, and now being able to walk down the middle of the road with no cars, as I did today, it was an incredible feeling.

The Ocean Shore Railroad tunnel opening is a great photo! Really shows how much and how fast the coast here is eroding.

1. "Treacherous roadway"? Not true, as we proved many times over during the bypass fight. A Caltrans PR lie disproven by actual traffic records for the roadway. (In one hearing, a Caltrans official frustrated when confronted by the numbers actually said the road was slightly safer than comparable roads because people were frightened and drove more cautiously. Obviously the bozo had little experience with hundreds of miles of oceanside highway on steep hillsides in California, Oregon, and Washington.) And then, all but a very few of the accidents that did occur over many years were either drug/alcohol related or suicides. The other big lie commonly repeated is that the road went out frequently. That one was mainly a media-hype mistake, picking up on Caltrans' self-serving demonizing of the stretch of highway. The roadway slipped only a few feet every 10-15 years during multiple weeks of rains without relief from draining of the unconsolidated slide mass -- mostly during El Nino events.

2. That hole near sea level is a cave, not the Ocean Shore Railroad tunnel. See the long horizontal ledge above it? That was the railroad bed. The tunnel through Pedro Point to Shelter Cove was roughly where the ledge is obliterated at the seaward end.

3. Almost $2 million later, people can now walk or bicycle on a paved asphalt road to see what millions have already seen from that same paved road. Big whoop!

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