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The Golden Gate National Recreation Area
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) chronicles two hundred years of history, from the Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, the California Gold Rush, the evolution of American coastal fortifications, and the growth of urban San Francisco.
One of the world’s largest urban national parks, Golden Gate National Recreation Area hugs the California coastline for nearly 60 miles in and around San Francisco. Pacifica is the “backyard” national park for our neighbors who live and work in the Bay Area. They come here to windsurf, walk the dog, go for a run, or bring their kids to explore nature and get a taste of history.
The park also attracts visitors from across the country and around the world. Approximately 17 million people are drawn here annually by the unparalleled recreational opportunities, stunning natural beauty, and riveting history.
Mori Point Rd.
Pacifica, CA 94044
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For nearly a century, Mori Point served as a haven for settlers, travelers, bootleggers and diners. Today this spectacular place serves as a haven for walkers and wildlife. A recent addition to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA); Mori Point property is considered the natural coastal extension of the National Park’s Sweeney Ridge property located due east across Highway One.
On the Mori Point property, visitors can stroll along paths through wildflower fields, visit restored habitat for threatened species, or marvel at the dramatic coastline from the upper trail that extends all the way to the western edge of Mori Point. From the coastal blufftop, visitors will marvel at the dramatic coastline, stretching north beyond Pacifica to the Marin Headlands and on a clear day Point Reyes. To the south, one is surprised and entranced by the sudden view of the beautiful but inaccessible hidden cove, and beyond, the Rockaway and Pedro Point Headlands. Also visible is the Pacifica Pier, Sharp Park Beach and the earthen berm supporting the Coastal Trail and separating the beach from the Laguna Salada fresh water marsh and the Sharp Park Golf Course.
Benches are available for sitting and enjoying the vista. The top of the point is a great whale watching location and sunsets from Mori Point are spectacular.
From this ridge top in 1769, a scouting party led by Gaspar de Portola became the first Europeans to see San Francisco Bay. A monument marks the approximate location.
Sweeney Ridge is a federally protected captivating hiking area of ridges and ravines between San Bruno and Pacifica where steep and rolling coastal hills with ridges overlook the San Francisco peninsula, San Andreas Lake and the Pacific Ocean. The ridge’s 1,200-foot-high summit, covered with coastal scrub and grassland, slopes down to the bay on one side and to the Pacific on the other. Wildlife includes hawks, deer, and a plethora of spring wildflowers.
On a clear day, you will see the City of Pacifica and the shimmering Pacific Ocean and coastline. In the springtime, the hills turn gold with California poppies and other wildflowers.
On Sweeney’s crest, beyond the abandoned former missle site, look for the stone plaque honoring Portol‡’s expedition. A nearby granite monument directs you to views from this scenic San Francisco Bay Discovery Site, including the Farallon Islands, Mt. Tamalpais, Point Reyes, Mt. Diablo, the Montara Mountain, and San Pedro Point.
The trail is open to hikers, equestrians and bicyclists from 8:00 a.m. to dusk. The driveway leading up to the trailhead in the Shelldance Nursery parking lot is a little obscure. When driving, look for large, colorful signs declaring ORCHIDS on the east side of the Pacific Coast Highway One. Once you get up to the large gravel parking, lot you’ll see a large Golden Gate National Recreation Area sign in the northwest corner, announcing the area as Sweeney Ridge.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Ocean District
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Milagra Ridge’s scrub-covered ridgeline runs east to west, offering impressive views of the cliffside City of Pacifica, the ocean, and the coast. This protected ridge is the focus of community efforts to restore the wildlife habitat and help ensure the survival of a number of rare and endangered species found within this national parkland. The ridge is critical habitat for the endangered mission blue butterfly and home to Redtailed Hawks, often seen spiraling overhead.
Visitors are required to stay on trails and pets must be leashed. Bicycles are permitted on the paved trail only. The hiking is mostly level and mostly paved.
Milagra Ridge Military Reservation (1942-1972) – The 330 acre Milagra Ridge Military Reservation was acquired in 1942 during World War II for use as a coastal defense installation. Two coastal batteries were planned, Battery 244 was started in 1942 but not completed until after the war in 1947, Battery 130 was never built. Battery 244 was decommissioned in 1950. The reservation was used by the U.S. Army Defense Command for anti-aircraft missile Nike Site, SF-51, during the Cold War. The reservation was finally closed in 1972 and portions transferred to the City of Pacifica in 1974.
The entrance to Milagra Ridge is off Sharp Park Road in Pacifica. From the Pacific Coast Highway (1), follow Sharp Park Road to the east, or from Skyline Bvd. (Highway 35), follow Sharp Park Road to the west. Turn north on College Drive and continue about 1/4 mile to roadside parking at the Milagra Ridge gate.