When I heard about this spot, I was super excited about it and had to go experience it for myself. I already love Pacific Coast Highway, so to be able to walk a part of the road that is now closed to drivers and has been converted into a trail was just too awesome. I set to drive there on the windy roads and attacked the trail in crazy winds; here is all of the information from my visit in 2016 and then again in 2022.
- 1.3 miles each way
- 250 feet of elevation
- Two parking lots on either side of the tunnel
- Location: 5981 California Coastal Trail, Pacifica, CA 94044
- Information from my visit in 2016 and 2022
This section of Pacific Coast Highway has always been notorious for both how dangerous it is and how often it could be washed out by heavy rains. Because of that, in 2014, they finally completed work on a tunnel that goes through the mountain instead of around it and makes this section a lot safer. When they closed this part of the road, they decided to repave it and turn it into a multi-use trail. To see this happen is fantastic because, more often than not, spots like this just get unused, and the views on this trail are something that should not go to waste. The trail is now built for walkers and bikers with the occasional equestrian rider as well.
The trail can be accessed from one of two small parking lots on either side of the tunnel. The tunnel is about 2.5 miles south of Pacifica, which also has the Taco Bell on the beach if you want to stop. The parking lots can fill fast in the summer months, so make sure to get their early if you want to find a spot.
I started from the south lot as that was close to the old hanging bunker, more on that later.
When you set off from the parking lot, you will pass the bathrooms and can then grab a small brochure with information on the trail.
The trail then winds through a few sections with massive cliffs before opening up and showing you the coastal views you expected to see.
Right when the views open up, you will see the first of many benches that you can sit on and just take in the views from. There are also a couple of viewfinders / binocular things that you can enter quarters into and look through if you so choose.
From here, the trail starts gaining its elevation as it goes uphill for a quarter mile or so. This is not a big deal though, as it is paved and easy to walk.
The views just continue to get better as you can see the coastline stretching out in front of you.
When you reach the elevated bench seating and see the road turn in, you will know you are at the end.
I would recommend not turning in with the road as it just takes you to the north parking lot and does not add any views as you are heading inland.
From here, you can grab a spot on the bench and relax or head back the way you came and visit the old bunker.
Old Devil’s Slide Bunker
I will start this section by saying I have no idea whether you are supposed to hike up here or not. I saw no signs that told me you were trespassing or anything, so I assume it is fine, but if someone knows different, please leave it in the comments.
To walk to the old bunker, there is a small dirt trail that is a tenth of a mile and takes you up to the bunker itself. The views up here of the coast as stunning as well, and I was blown away by them.
The old bunker is from WWII, and it was a lookout point. The reason it looks the way that it does is that the dirt was moved around it about a decade ago, so it now appears as if it is hanging in the air, which it didn’t initially look like. The bunker is covered in graffiti, which you never want to see, but it still looks pretty structurally sound.
I saw people climbing all over it when I was there, and I wouldn’t do that as you never know how the old structure will react. I recommend just looking at it from afar without going in. This is a very cool piece of unique history, and I was happy to be able to see it as an add on to the Devils Slide Trail.
All in all, this is a fantastic place for a hike. I highly recommend you check out the Devils Slide Trail, and let me know what you think about it in the comments.