Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail. Free Docent Led Hikes. San Bruno.
Taxes are due so soon we can do the countdown in hours. Does that strike fear in your heart? It does mine.
I will do anything to avoid working on my taxes. Laundry, vacuuming, dusting – no household task is too taxing (ugh, sorry) in the face of crunching numbers. I even planned to do a blog post on procrastination in honor of tax day, but I put it off. No joke.
But procrastination leads to today’s post about a very cool hiking trail. A path to aid your procrastination in case you are looking for a diversion from working on your taxes or all the things piling up in your in box or on your to-do list.
The sky is a deep blue, the sun is shining, and birds (ugh geese too) are everywhere. It’s the perfect time to ditch your have-tos and head out of The City. As in “take a hike.” Wild flowers, squishy trails, and butterflies. Do you feel me? Except for one thing. This hike is not for procrastinators because you have to sign up ahead of time.
Instead I am offering a carrot. At the first inkling of procrastination give in and sign up for this hike. Then back to work. Daydream about the hike while you collect and add up your receipts. Consider who you will invite on the hike while you wait for Turbotax to spit out the evil numbers. This is kind of a procrastination exercise in reverse. Happy trails.
Located just beyond The City limits off I-280 (by Crystal Springs Reservoir ) the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail is part of 23,000 acres of wild open space. The area is a haven for the rare marbled murrelet sea bird, the San Bruno Elfin and Mission Blue Butterflies – all on the endangered species list. Their endangered status is one of the reasons public use of the trail is restricted to docent led groups. I can live with that.
With some advance planning you can enjoy a rare opportunity to hike, bike, or ride your horse (you know the one you keep behind your condo on Polk Street) along the beautiful Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail. Accessible only to small docent led groups through a reservation system, the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail is well worth the booking effort. Really.
Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail
Location: Intersection of Skyline Quarry Road & Highway 92 . Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.
Directions: Drive westbound on CA-92 crossing under I-280. Remain on CA-92 crossing over the Crystal Springs Reservoir, half mile to the Skyline Quarry gate (painted silver). The gate is on the north side of Highway 92 and is signed “Skyline Quarry”. The gate is near a blue call box. The door is normally closed. When guided hikes along Fifield-Cahill Trail are organized by park authorities, the gate is opened to let cars in. No parking fee.
Register to hike at the SFWater Website.
Groups must be accompanied by a volunteer trail leader and are limited to approximately 20 people (fewer on horseback), scheduled no more than three times a day on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You can reserve spaces for as many as five people for any one event.
No Dogs allowed.
Details to Know Before You Go:
• The managed segment of the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail from Highway 92 to Sweeney Ridge is 10 miles long and takes approximately 5-7 hours to complete on foot, with shorter hikes possible.
• Fifield-Cahill Ridge connects with the 3.7 miles of the Sweeney Ridge Trail open to the public. Visitors interested in connecting their trek on the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail with Sweeney Ridge can contact the Golden Gate National Recreation Area .
• Trail Condition: The trail is a gravel service road, with periods of loose base rock. Grades range from 0% to 21%. The steepest grade stretches 1.3 miles from Skyline Quarry (elevation 400 ft.) to Cemetery Gate (elevation 1,050 ft.) on Cahill Ridge, with a vertical elevation change of 650 ft.
• Time to Complete the Hike: Approximately 5-7 hours to complete the entire 10 miles on foot.
• Weather Conditions: Temperatures vary greatly over the length of the trail. Prepare for potential extremes in temperature and conditions due to microclimatic influences particularly in the summer. Trail users can expect as much as 20 F variations in temperature.
• Trail Amenities: Toilets at approximately 2-mile intervals along the trail, starting at Skyline Quarry.
• NO WATER IS AVAILABLE ON THE TRAIL. You must bring your own water. At least 1½ quarts per person is recommended.
• Persons with Special Needs: Trail users with disabilities may access the trail at Cemetery Gate. The accessible portion of the trail stretches 1.4 miles north of Cemetery Gate to a rest area with accessible restroom facilities. Accessible trail event opportunities are available for independent use for persons of all abilities. Call (650) 652-3207 for information on special needs access to the trail.
I love urban hiking but there are times when my brain needs quiet and my body needs to be surrounded by nature not flower boxes and parklets. Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail is just the antidote to life in The City. Plus it is so close it hardly qualifies as a field trip but your soul will feel otherwise. And with 10 miles of hiking your soles will probably feel otherwise as well. But so worth it.
• Plan this hike well in advance. Annoying but necessary.
• Dress in layers. Worth repeating since the ridges can be windy and foggy in one spot and hot and full sun in other parts. Think multiple Bay Area micro-climates all in one excursion.
• Pack a lunch and snacks – this is a long hike and there is a lunch break at about mile 5.
• Bring plenty of water, there is none on the trail.
• Bring a camera for the views, wildflowers in the spring,wildlife, and your companions.Social media hounds will want to post on FB or instagram. You know who you are…
• Wear sturdy/comfy shoes and socks with good padding. It’s a long hike on packed gravel roads.
• Bring enough cars to shuttle everyone to Skyline College and at the end take everyone back up there to get the shuttle cars. The docent will most likely ride with you.
• Refer to your permit on where to meet and check the phone line a day or two before the hike for final instructions.
Okay fellow city slickers, take a hike and enjoy the great outdoors.