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Sweating It Out On Sweeney Ridge Trail

Updated: May 4, 2022

Location : San Bruno, CA

Parking : Free parking along neighborhood streets

Trail type : Out and Back

Trail Length : 7.7 miles

Elevation Gain : 1669ft

Difficulty : Moderate - Strenuous

Trails traversed : Sweeney Ridge Fire Road > Sweeney Ridge Trail > Mori Ridge Trail

Post-hike grub stop suggestion : Fieldworks, Redwood City.

Sweeney Ridge in San Bruno, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, sits right between Pacific Ocean on one side and the Bay on the other. This hike with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean and the Peninsula, is sure to kick your butt with it steepness at various points. This ridge has a plethora of wildlife and wildflowers. In the last week of May, we saw an abundance of wildflowers blooming all along the trail. This Ridge is also seeped in history, as this was where, in 1769, the Spanish Army Officer, Gasper de Portola, discovered the San Francisco Bay Area.

Parking is available at the trailhead on Sneath Lane, or in the neighborhood streets close by. The initial 2 mile or so of the trail is on a well paved fire road. The wildflowers and the views along the trail make a good distraction to the steep climb along the fire road.

Flora and fauna along the fire road keeps your mind off the steep climb.

The fire road finally intersects Sweeney Ridge Trail at the top of the ridge. Turn left to visit the historic site where General Portola first laid eyes on the entire Bay Area. Restrooms are available at this point.

Excellent views of South San Francisco and the Peninsula

After reading the plaques detailing the history of the "Discovery Site", backtrack towards the restrooms and continue on Sweeney Ridge Trail. The trail takes you over rolling hills and and within the first half mile, you will come across the historic Nike Missile Launch control station site. It is now a collection of run-down buildings with cement-block walls and falling-in roofs. Continue on the gravel path further down Sweeny Ridge Tail. The trail starts going steeply downhill towards Mori Point. As you climb downhill you will soon realize it is going to be a strenuous climb back up.

By Mile 3 the trail starts dropping steeply

This is a good time to take stock of your time and energy and make a decision. You can continue to hike all the way down where the trail ends at an Orchid garden in Pacifica or turn around and head back on Sweeny Ridge Trail and to the paved fire road which will take you back to your parked car.

Wild berries, flowers and butterflies along the trail


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