Mori Point/Sharp Park State Beach,
Golden Gate National Recreation Area/City of Pacifica,
San Mateo County
In brief:
3 mile partial loop through a GGNRA parcel, overlooking the ocean in Pacifica.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3 mile partial loop hike is easy, although there are a few short steep sections. Total elevation change is about 260 feet.

Exposure:
Mix of sun and shade.

Trail traffic:
Light.

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails and fire roads.

Hiking time:
2 hours.

Season:
Nice any time; lovely in spring.

Getting there:
• To the Sharp Park State Beach trailhead: from southbound CA 1 in Pacifica, exit Paloma. Drive west on Paloma, then turn left onto Palmetto. Drive south about 0.2 mile, then turn right onto San Jose. Drive to the end of San Jose, then turn left onto Beach Boulevard. Continue south about 0.3 mile, to the parking area on the right side of the road, just before the street turns sharply left at the golf course.
• To the Sharp Park State Beach trailhead: from northbound CA 1 in Pacifica, exit Clarendon. Drive west on Clarendon, then turn right onto Palmetto. Drive north on Palmetto, then turn left onto Montecito. Drive west to the end of the road, then turn left onto Beach Boulevard. Continue south to the parking area on the right side of the road, just before the street turns sharply left at the golf course.
• To the Moose Lodge trailhead from southbound CA 1: exit Sharp Park Road. The exit dead ends at Sharp Park Golf Course; turn left (south) and then make a right (west) at Westport. From there, turn left (south) onto Bradford Way and drive to the red building (Moose Lodge). The trailhead is at fenced gate.
• To the Moose Lodge trailhead from northbound CA 1: exit Sharp Park and take the next right after the exit (Westport). From there, turn left onto Bradford Way and drive to the red building (Moose Lodge) The trailhead is at fenced gate.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/402

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3737'47.65"N
Longitude
12229'38.26"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Stores, gas, and restaurants in nearby Pacifica neighborhoods. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Parking in paved roadside areas. No parking or entrance fees. Restrooms, pay phone, and drinking water at the fishing pier just north of the parking area. No maps. There are designated handicapped parking spots, and the first stretch of trail is well-suited to wheelchairs (except in wet weather). SamTrans bus #112 stops within walking distance of the trailhead. Visit the Transit Info website for details.

Rules:
Dogs are required to be leashed. No other rules are posted.

The Official Story:
NPS's Mori Point page

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Trails of the Coastside and Northern Peninsula (map) has a good map of the area, and is helpful in getting there (available from Pease Press).
• Tom Taber's Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book has a map and trail descriptions (order this book from Amazon.com).

Mori Point in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.




Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page


Fans of the 1971 film Harold and Maude may have a sense Parking lotof déjà vu while hiking at Mori Point. The final scene in the movie, where Harold drives his Jaguar off the cliff, was shot on a Mori Point bluff. Although the property was privately held and had been threatened with development many times over the course of almost 30 years, Pacifica Land Trust was finally able to purchase the parcel in 2000. GGNRA now manages the land. Locals access Mori Point from adjacent neighborhoods, but for those of us from out-of-town, Sharp Park State Beach makes a good staging area.
     While the property is less than pristine (you could play an interesting game counting all the old tires strewn about), it teams with wildlife. I saw a hawk, kestrel, harrier, and rabbit on one walk here, as well as scat from small mammals. During whale migration, the bluffs are a good spot to scan the ocean with binoculars -- Trail along the beachwhales have been spotted just off Sharp Park State Beach.
     The entire parcel is laced with paths and trails. Be sure to stay a safe distance from steep dropoffs along the cliffs -- there are some areas prone to slides that can be especially dangerous and unpredictable in wet weather.
     Start at Sharp Park State Beach, near the golf course. Walk south on a flat, wide dirt seawall running between the beach and golf course. There's not much in way of vegetation along the trail, but you might see some New Zealand spinach, sea rocket, and sea fig. Mallow, a fast-growing weedy shrub that puts forth pretty purple flowers in late summer, is conspicuous. Look for ducks in a small wetland pond on the left. At 0.61 mile, the trail curves left at the border with the Mori Point property (unsigned). A few cypress and eucalyptus stand off to the right. One of the easy to follow wide sections of trailAt 0.67 mile, veer right onto a path beginning near the end of an old fence line (if you miss this, there's a more major junction about 0.10 mile further down the main trail -- just keep heading southwest).
     Back at the trailhead, the line between city and country was clearly defined, but it blurs a bit here. While pigeons, squirrels, and ravens are common along the trail on the north end of the golf course, here rabbits scramble through coastal scrub, and raptors soar overhead looking for a meal. The path cuts through sagebrush, clusters of pampas grass, and coyote brush, then reaches a junction with an ascending path, at 0.73 mile. Turn right.
     This shortcut climbs briefly, then ends at a T junction with a broad trail, at 0.76 mile. Turn right.
     The wide trail gains slight elevation as it cuts across a hillside of grass, fennel, lizardtail, monkeyflower, strawberry, coyote brush, and some poison oak. Wildflower season stretches well through summer here, and you may see A trail along the coastwild carrot, and even some straggling clarkia, blooming as late as October. The trail reaches a flat, bare bluff and ends. Continue straight.
     This is the bluff where Harold drove the Jag off into the ocean. No trace remains of the Harold and Maude scene (the car was removed from the beach some time ago), but if you enjoyed the movie you might want to do a little jig in memory of Maude. This is also a great place to peek north past the beaches of Pacifica all the way to Marin County, and to the west there's a dead-on view to the Farallons. When you're ready, walk back to the east and pick up the obvious southern continuation of the trail (not any of the steep ascending paths, but the single nearly level one).
     Views are breathtaking as the narrow path follows the contour of the coast. There is evidence of previous landslides, and the trail lingers very near the cliff edge in places, so use caution here. Coastal scrub plants cling to the ground, their way of coping with the Path to Mori Point's highest hillfrequent gusty winds which blow over the hillsides. Ignore all of the more minor paths heading uphill to the left, but at 1.27 miles when a path veers off to the right, just before the trail gets steep, take it.
     The path permits a look down to a pretty, isolated beach on the right, as it ascends. At 1.38 miles, you'll reach a narrow sloping bluff. Turn left and walk along the bluff to the east.
     From the bluff there are views to both north and south. On the right Rockaway State Beach, Pedro Point, and Montara Mountain are all visible. The path crest at a flat blank area, where pampas grass flutters in the breeze. A quarry operation culled tons of rock out of the hillside just to the south. Turn left and walk toward Mori Point's highest hilltop.
    Traffic noise from CA 1 and the Rockaway neighborhood are audible. At 1.52 miles, a broad trail departs to the right, heading downhill to a bike path off Reina del Mar Avenue. Continue straight.
    Climbing moderately, the trail ascends through grass Descending from the hilltopand matted-looking coyote brush. At 1.63 miles, you'll reach the hilltop, a true belvedere with 360° views. The trail visible across CA 1 is Mori Ridge Trail, which ascends to Sweeney Ridge. Turn east and head downhill.
     The descent is steep but short, and at 1.75 miles, you'll reach a saddle between the hills. Turn left.
     Swinging back to the west, the trail angles through coastal scrub, then emerges at a flat area at 1.91 miles, with many paths and trails visible. Take the first path to the right.
     The slight path descends a little, crosses over a slumpy section of hillside, then reaches a junction with a more major trail at 2.03 miles. Turn left.
     Interwoven trails create a confusing maze of choices -- aim for the major fire road running east to west. You'll reach it at 2.17 miles, give or take a few yards. Turn left.
     Back on the familiar fire road, follow the dirt road to the seawall trail, then retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 3.00 miles
Last hiked: Thursday, October 24, 2002