SF water district, Fifield-Cahill trail


Saturday, 16 April 2016

On Saturday, I did a trail patrol at Windy Hill. Ten miles, but I spent a total of six hours attacking various kinds of thistle, broom and ivy.


I was here at Windy Hill two weeks ago, on a volunteer project to install a fence, to discourage people from cutting the steep grade at the top of the hill, causing erosion. Plastic fence, with snap rings and removable center posts, because this is also a launch site for hang gliders, so we needed it to be easy to remove and restore.

From the trail below, it looks very elegant. I was also pleased to see that it has not been vandalized, and there’s not too much evidence of people bypassing it.


SFWD Fifield-Cahill hike

Today, Sunday, was an opportunity to hike the Fifield-Cahill trail through the SF water district property north of highway 92. It’s only open to guided groups, and by permit, so I was glad to have the chance to visit a place I’ve never seen. The organizers are the Bay Area Ridge Trail group, and this was a warm-up hike (13 miles, 1600 feet of gain) for the Ridge to Bridge fund-raising outing in two weeks.

Have to admit I had never heard of them, but in Marin county, it seems to be a pretty big deal. Hikes up to 26 miles, bike rides, equestrian event.


We met at the Quarry gate just off highway 92. Easy to believe this was a quarry once upon a time.


A few of us drove shuttles to get the group to the north trailhead, at the end of Sneath Lane in what is probably San Bruno. Popular place. The trail is a paved road that steeply ascends Sweeney Ridge. At the top is the site from which Gaspar de Portola discovered SF bay in 1769.



Bob, doing the talking here, was the organizer and leader, the one with the permit that kept the rest of us out of jail today.



There were sixteen of us total, several of whom were supporting the Ridge to Bridge event, one of whom was on the board of BA Ridge Trail, others of whom were planning to do the 26 mile hike. Some had done a 17-mile hike yesterday at Mt Diablo, just as a warm-up for today’s warm-up. A pretty fit group.


Views from the top. Above, toward Daly City or South San Francisco, the bay north of the airport.


The airport itself, Mt Diablo in the background.


On the other side, we look down into Pacifica. At the upper left of the picture, the Farallon islands, with more ocean visible beyond.


At 3 miles, we entered the permit-only SF WD area; not much further was a ranger, probably counting noses. We are all properly permitted, so he was friendly, wished us a good hike.

Being highly sensitized to bull thistle and especially purple star thistle, it was jarring to see both along today’s hike; I had to keep reminding myself that they were someone else’s problem. Although I admit that I did dig out a couple of bull thistles with my hiking sticks at one of the stops.


Lots of wildflowers; this was the most spectacular site.



Much of the earlier part of the hike was in the open, bright and sunny, pleasant because of the chill breeze. The last half, more or less, was mostly in forest. Nice view down onto Pilarcitos Reservoir. And eventually, we descended a fairly steep final trail back to the old quarry.



Beautiful day, great scenery, and as we all agreed, a pretty easy hike.

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5 Responses to “SF water district, Fifield-Cahill trail”

  1. Emilie Osborn Says:

    Thanks for the great photos. Beautiful day.


  2. Alex Song Says:

    Thanks for sharing! Is the wildflower field in the permit-only area?


  3. Tan Ho Says:

    What a nice spot, really great that you’ve shared it!
    If and when I am in the bay area next time, I will sure try it out


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