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Devil’s Slide Trail Guide


There’s a place on the San Mateo County
coast where you can see whales, sea birds, native plants, and eons of geologic history.
Join me on the Devil’s Slide Trail Experts will tell us why this is such a
special place. Welcome to Devil’s SlideTrail located
just five miles south of San Francisco off Highway 1 and I’m here with
Kathy Gesley Hello, Kathy. Tell us about the
trail. The trail is a county trail. Its 1.3
miles Its a marked and paved so
there are designated places for walking and biking the best way to bike is cut
to go from the north to the south and are there are three platforms along
the trail that allow you to rest and watch their
arm birds look at the bird sanctuary and look at
the beautiful ocean views it’s a very intimate trail that really
is in close so it’s safe to bring children lot of our families are bringing their
kids with the our stroller and kids walking along and they all do
really well on the trail so Kathy what’s the best way to get to
double slide trail and where do you park the best way is to access it through
public transportation SamTrans has a regular bus on a daily
basis number seventeen and on the weekend there’s a double
slide our ride that comes from win a bar parking area up to the north
end a parking is limited are both the north
and the south end you can get to the south and through the
tunnel the parking is arm difficult especially I’m busy
times on their weekends after eleven o’clock for kathy
was the best to get a good for walking on the trail the basic thing to remember is to stay
within the trail boundaries arm their markings on the trail you
wanna stay on the walk inside bikers stay on their bike inside and I
if you have a dog please keep the dog on leash so that the dog is safe are for the other walkers so if you have a question just ask a
double slide trail ambassador that sounds great let’s go take a walk
sounds good my getting around the coast has always
been a challenge to rate your I the Indian tribes around here had to
pick their way through these areas where we’re standing right
now and of course when are California became part of the United
States there was a whole lot of the talk about developing the area more in
1865 was the first time the people started thinking about maybe we should
build a railroad out here and then in 1881 are the ocean shore
railroad was incorporated in Sacramento people and thought well railroads are
springing up all over the west all over the United States why not build here it was a great idea to cut down
transportation time between San Francisco and Santa Cruz unfortunately
they chose 1905 as the year to do that and one year later the earthquake of 1906 really knocked
out most of the equipment and most at the throughway that they had here at
Devil’s slide they were able to I keep things going
through 1912 returning some profits with shipping in passengers and then in 1913 southern pacific wanted
to get in on the action and the competition from that and
trucking roads really shut down the OS are so on the road closed down what happened
to the road well it was used I as the stretch of highway 1 that connected
Pacifica to Half Moon Bay in 1937 on that part of highway 1 was
completed and it was a great way to traverse this
terrain once again nature took a hand because in
the winter 1938 the first slide came along that
closed the section of highway 1 well then the show became very important
to the military is that right thread in 1941 with the outbreak of war
with Japan this area the same a tale coast was left
completely undefended and so civilian and military patrols
along this area double slide became the way that we
would protect this area art wall most to the Army in the names
of fighting in Europe and Asia and in 1943 the Army and Navy bill observation posts here on Devil’s slide
so that they could watch for invading ship to this is before the advent of
modern radar so they would use that until the end of the war in 1945 when
you goal past these as you driving down
Highway 1 it said silent monument to the contributions
that this Gary Mitchell look by Tony I such a heavy on the trail and
I’ve been very excited to see you because I’ve been reading a book about
the plans to the cemetery Coast and really
getting impression that they’re very unique along this part up the coast yes the plants are very
unique here on the cemetery on this double slide they’re actually starting at the top of
the cliff with the coastal scrub plant community and then
the plants actually get eroded down the side of the
hill and get establish in the rock crevices and can grow on the side of the
cliffs as well and also as the soil falls down erodes
down the plants can get established in the
lower areas where the soil has a little bit more
buildup and these plants have adapted over thousands have years to be able to
tolerate these conditions very unique to the cemetery Coast so
Tony could you tell us what’s on the place was he right right here sure we have California
sagebrush in bloom right now and then below and we have the lesser
tell it’s in flour right now as well also over on the other side over here we
have the gun plant the summer Plummer as well you can see
the California Poppy our state flower the blue blossom see an author’s the
California phacelia it’s one of the most prolific are
flowering plants here on double slide the seaside AC occurs
all up and down the cemetery coast as well it’s a beautiful plant in this in the
sunflower family the goldfields make a mass have color in
the springtime mostly the annual Goldfields we have
three different species said Lupin mostly the purple forms but we also get
the yellow color forms as well and we have the metformin Lotus which is in the pea family the Indian
paintbrushes another plant an annual plant that’s very common along here it has a pool like some flowers
structure we have the California Strawberry it has
beautiful white flowers anger on the slopes as well as on the
low-lying areas at different times of the year you’ll
see lots of flowering plants here and it’s a beautiful garden just a
beautiful garden hanging garden upslope garden downslope
carton just one of the most beautiful gardens
you can see on the senate a locust so the Hanging Gardens a double slide
yes that’s what I call them what are the wonders of the world it is look were on the north end of the trail and
I’m here with professor Karen grow from San Francisco State University care we’re standing here at at a
wonderful spot on the trail that shows sedimentation going on can
you tell us why there’s so much color here well the color differences between the
layers are because the darker layers are my head so very fine-grained sediment that and that’s where the organic material
tends to get concentrated so that’s why they’re dark in color the lighter color is say and so larger
size settlement 7 like you would find on a
beach the size that explains the difference in color here so
what’s amazing is the real distinct layers in the sediments what causes that yeah that’s a a type have settlement
reprocess that a we call turbidity flowers the dark colored the mud that sentiment
that’s just falling out a suspension through
the water column for example settlement comes down a river it comes
to the sea and the finer grained sediments are in suspension and they
fall down to the bottom but once in a while there is an impetus
such as an earthquake or a particularly big storm that moves sand bigger settlement along the bottom and I high-velocity turbulent flow and gives you a very
distinct layer San now he said it was formed here no not in many ways actually they were first evolved formed in a
marine environment so they were not up on land they were
formed under the water deep marine environment and they were
also formed in Southern California so 33 other commenters are so from here we’re on their west side of
the San Andreas Fault and this piece of land is continuing to
move to the northwest with movements on the san andreas fault so we’re creeping up towards alaska’s at
it we r at least on the side of the fault well
this is really not the best place to build the road is that correct that is very much correct I these sedimentary rock are extremely weak because that the
dominance the mudstone in the settlements they
just crumble and particularly after a rain they just want two slides a geologist would
have predicted that if you’ve got the right through here
with Bay look with the North overlook at the trail
back again with professor master of Skyline College and Mike understand that I’m this was a
very important a area’s history absolutely in 1769 I Gaspard de Porto la I was coming here
assertive in advance guard for the mission systems that you
know procera would build so famously and he came across the
Ohlone Ian the other Indian tribes they were here on the coast are only a few
thousand in their living here at the time and they decided that this was a good
place to build and portal I was actually looking
for Monterey Bay and missed it completely have to south of us a course rediscover San
Francisco Bay and that was the beginning zev San Francisco and of course the mission
that was built there and in 1776 they actually started using the limestone
from the area right around double slide to make the whitewash for both the
mission and the Percy do. that provided defense for the mission
and then of course the Gold Rush changed everything kid yes it don’t really change things in
1848 a course the first strikes are medical over by John Marshall John
Sutter and of course the world rushdie and
millions of people coming to this area and of course from here to
the sea air is and it really brings out huge population
into California just in time for California to become
the 31st state which it did in 1850 and from then on California really
became a place if promise a place a great
business and of course double slide changed I in all kinds of ways and there’s an
editorial history to this course also right you’re
having to do with prohibition because of course after the 18th amendment was
passed it became very difficult to procurer alcohol certainly legally but if you
look around this is a perfect place to smuggle and to hide quantities of
alcohol difficulty get to there’s a sheer drop
off to the Pacific are not very many people live here and
it’s easy to evade the federal authorities so great about it bootlegging happened
here and no number for institutions would be
serving illegal alcohol and running gentleman’s clubs up until 1933
when probation was finally repealed and things in some sense went back to
well this is like a very simple trail but there’s a lot of history attached to
it salute you really can’t understand the
history of San Mateo County completely without knowing something about double
slide and that’s why I’m glad we’re here to talk about look run the middle portion of the trail on
this is were double slide gets its name this is a its in areas really prone to slides and
Karen I presume this is what the engineers tried to do keep it from
sliding again yes I’ll where humans put their
infrastructure and places that are geologically an appropriate we then have
to bring in the engineers to say stabilize
this so we can continue to interact with that landscape those of us who have lived here for a
while know that this has been a recurring problem %uh the road was closed for almost two
years in the nineties their were problems continuously finally they decided that make the
Tylenol and now we can enjoy this spot but they still have the structure
the concrete structure to try to hold the rock in place they have tilt meters to try to cents any movement that occurs but you
know it’s one of those things where any geologist who would come along here would be yeah of course this
is not gonna be a stable place to build a road in the first place the mud stone is very
weak even the sandstone which is more
resistant as highly fractured so prone to failure
and the layers which were deposited horizontally are now all
tilted and that makes them even more likely to to fall down so in California we do this a lot we’ve built houses on top at the
San Andreas Fault we’ve built roads a and these very steep
coastal places and and inland as well we’re
learning maybe a little bit that actually nature is always going nowhere
and and so we need to think about what the geologic setting is before we
do the building rather than after when we have to spend
a lot of money to defects bank look house and thanks for coming on the trail
today and can you tell us where the most common remembers you can see from
the Spanish point sir the most common species is gray
whale and there’s a couple really good
opportunities to see them throughout the year as they migrate along the
California coast I wanna be up to new users around
January the peak love their southward migration as they
head down to ball hard to their birthing grounds and the other pic is around April and
May as they head north to their feeding grounds and that’s your
best opportunity to see cow and calf pairs and those tend to
hang really close to shore avoiding predators like workers are sure and this
is one of the most amazing migrations in nature and we have an incredible
opportunity because it happens right here every single year and I understand you
can see other marine mammals to besides the gray whales yeah there’s
quite a few other cetaceans or will dolphin species and you can see here one
of the more common ones is the bottle nose dolphin and both are regularly very close to
shore and in small groups another one similar
to the bar most often as the harbor porpoise their lot smaller than bottler softened
and are usually solitary another bail email that you can see like
the gray will is the humpback whale and their pretty
much visible year-round able to october’s their peak season they
like to hang out a lot further up sure towards the shelf break a lot of times they put on showy
displays like preaching and tail flapping is if you look at
first Caroline Islands you might get lucky and see them there’s several other species that are
possible to see here the less common like Orissa’s dolphin minke whales and or
does what her skills are we looking at I’m
the seals a year most likely to see our harbor seals and they often haul out on Saint Peter a
rock in the distance I’m in intertidal rocks and they also
pop here in spring there’s a couple other pinnipeds or seal
in feline species that you can see here and California sea lion sometimes call
out on the small rocks around double side of or you’ll see them swimming
around and you might see a stellar sea lion
there’s a small recovery are on the Farallon Islands so we’ve seen them swimming by as well
and you might even see in autre from time to time you might were kind about the northern
extent of their rain so they’re not very common but they have been seen here let the exciting to see with me so this
is one the best vantage points for seeing remembers on the northern coast so what would you advise people to do it
cannot hear bring your binoculars work towards a southerner the trail in
this is where you see a lot of granite and can’t you tell us how this credit is
formed well it performs a it’s an igneous rock and it forms deep beneath the earth when
magma cools it would have formed many kilometers
beneath the surface several miles if you well I’m by liquid rock magma cooling from a melt and so because its schooling beneath the
surface if we can imagine this occurring way they need our feet it it ’cause
slowly and so the crystals have a chance to achieve a
large size and that’s why we can actually see crystals of courts and other minerals in
the granite but if we look at this entire good faith
weakens the even more history than that we know this
was formed deep under the surface but we see
sediment sitting on top of it so that tells us that the granite was up lifted to the
surface and when the granite was forming we were in a convergent plate boundary
that is two plates from moving toward each other and so when you have that you have
compressive forces and so then you can get I uplift I love you imagine abt pushing on something
from both sides you can get it to up left and then they volcanoes that
would abandon on the top but that the Magna would have been feeding those with the band eroded away and so a what we see is that the granite was up lifted to the surface and then in the
marine environment the settlements the mudstone in the fans
down were deposited on on top a bad I’m work the middle of a look at the trail
and I’m here with lana from california audubon and and this is a spectacular
place to watch birds isn’t it it sure is Steve this is one of the best
places now in a California coast to see seabirds and shorebirds this is
one of the richest most productive marine environments in the world attracting predators from all over the
Pacific including dozens of species of marine birds and what kinda Birju you see here
depending on the time of the year you’ll see everything from the city
share water which comes here in huge numbers from New Zealand’s their
breeding grounds there to feel is rich in productive marine waters to the beautiful surf Scoter which
breeds in alaska comes here in the winter to feed on
herring roe and small fish all the way to the black
Oystercatcher which breeds down here and may not go
more than a kilometer and its lifetime there are many many speeches a bird’s
although their own individual stories there’s the elegant tern and the here
men’s golf ball so which breed on one Island in the Gulf of California down in
mexico come up here to feed and arrests in the
wintertime and of course is the iconic albatross and two species that occur here other
black-footed albatross which green Hawaiian fly thousands of miles to you find pray and bring it back to
their young and the short-tailed Albatross which was presumed staying to nineteen
fifties brought back from the brink of extinction and is being seen with increasing
frequency here on the california coast all this really is a very special place
to see sea birds it really is with the opening up this
trail the public has access to birds couldn’t
see before it’s a very accessible so I am very
excited about this round what he refers to see you hi Steve it’s
nice to be here so we’re standing on the on the trail above double slide
rock they wanted you could tell me the significance that rock for the birds double side rock Kohls a nesting colony
of common MERS and other sea birds which nests along
the California coast here back in the nineteen eighties nesting
calling out here was completely wiped out within just a few years mainly from boers been killed in gill
nets an oil spills and we’ve been working for the last 18 years to the to restore that nesting colony surgery
where these birds being protected well commerce a site called migratory
birds in North America are protected under an act called the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act in action after establish several
decades ago to protect have burned migrating between Canada the
United States and Mexico and even within those nations from harm because birds were being you
know killed and slaughtered in such very large numbers historically you also
involved in restoring the bird so how how does that work placing decoys that
look like common murders up on the rock along with decoys serve
that look like chicks and eggs that were placed on the rock to make it look like
a real nesting colony and we also had a sound system that play
the calls of Commerce in all this so was actually landed on the rock and
placed upon the rock so that it would remain for several months at a time and that was put in place to actually
attract the birds back to the rock so that they will come back
and start messing again so judging from the birds I’ve seen on
the rock it looks like the restorations been successful yes it has it’s been very successful
within the very first year we had birds nesting on the rock and we thought it
would take maybe several years within five years we
reach our 10 year goal which was a hundred breeding pairs we
were able to remove all of the decoys and all the other social attraction
equipment because it seem like that colony was now self-sustaining just within the last few years it looks
like we have probably about the same numbers that we had before the colony
was completely extirpate a back in the early nineteen
eighties so if you come out here in the summertime you know the spring and summer you’ll
see double slide rock clearly just almost completely covered in nesting commerce so it’s really
exciting I’m we’re near the southern into the trail
again with professor grow from San Francisco State University and professor why is there so much
fracturing going on here well these rocks have actually had a
very tortured history their first problem was you at episode of contraction that lifted them up to the surface cent
of course if you imagine applying pressure to anything it’s kinda wanna crack especially a
rigid body like this so we get a lot of cracking so its first thing was to get lifted up to the
surface and a contract channel environment in probably an awful lot of
these fractures are cracks occurred during
that initial period I’ve up left for its crazy like you look at
this in even down to the smallest level its
fracture yet now I can see the really problems at
once with even like these are all fractures in here
though it’s kids pervasively fractured its first step was to get
uplifted to the service and a lot of things that happened that
we don’t really are to clear about but the what
the other thing that we are very clear about is that starting about five to seven
million years ago the San Andreas Fault as we know it
today was born and this area west to the san andreas which we call the sole any enter an has
been moving northwest relative to North America on the other
side at that San Andreas Fault and so every time
there’s an earthquake a this piece of land goes another Meader or five meters or seven
meters to the north to the northwest relative
to what’s on the other side so it has continued to be deformed by tectonic processes and
continues to need a tortured life so this is the place to
come if you wanna see some really twisted wrong look were staring to Southport allow the
tunnel and I’m here is our Christian tucker and so I can you tell us the connection
between the tunnel on the trail yes the trail here is actually all highway 1 a double slide when the
tunnel was constructed one other benefits was that we have got
access to this beautiful old road and it was turned into a trail
now the story to tell really goes back a ways doesn’t it it does this road has been a Bugaboo for
decades in the winter and 1995 the road failed once again catastrophically leaving at stranded here for six months
caltrans at that point was ready to build inland freeway bypass which the
community had fought for years and years and years our elected representatives weren’t
willing to force caltrans to consider alternatives at that point we knew we
had to take matters into our own hands well I remember how it took hours to go
for one and %uh a highway to the other and then this
became a real David implies struggled in it it absolutely did people were desperate their our life line was cut off but even
despite that the coast fighters were unwilling to let
that freeway bypass go forward and destroy Montero mountain really
wanted a title alternative so we had no choice
but to qualify an initiative for the ballot take matters into our own hands and we
had a great time doing it we launched a
campaign that spanned at the corners the fam it here County and beyond with I think tunnel bumper stickers
marching in parade gathering signatures tabling at farmers
markets and all over the county we actually even had
one of the very first web sites created for political purposes way back
in 1996 measure T the Double Play title
initiative won in a landslide seventy-four percent of voters said yes we want tunnel a double slide well I
campaign was a great success because now we have this beautiful total absolutely Steve it’s a tremendous
success because not only do we have the title that we have Montero mountain which is
now protected as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and we have this extraordinary beautiful
trail for generations to come to enjoy I’m another chance in the wonders are the
devil’s slide tell you might want to come in a bass to yourself so cathy tell us what a bastard us here
on the trail a trail ambassador is basically a
customer service person we answer questions we remind people of the rules and we try
to make their visit the most enjoyable and how they become a
volunteer where you go to find out but thing about their two ways to do
that you can ask the trail ambassador answer walking on the trail are you can check that cemetery county
website and that will give me information on how to become a volunteer thank you for watching Pacific currents
you can always see our shows on you too see you next time

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4 thoughts on “Devil’s Slide Trail Guide

  1. Who was John Marshall ?
    I believe you meant James as in James W. Marshall who is credited with finding gold on January 24, 1848 while working on the tail race of Sutter’s Mill in Coloma .

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