Bay Area

Seaside Hikes: Pillar Point Bluff in Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Wednesday January 27, 2016

If you like to hike, get out there now! Wood sorrel, moss, and greenery have overtaken our local hiking trails. It is so beautiful to see, and makes all the mud worth it. This weekend, we ended up on a stunning stretch of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

Last time we visited Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, we stuck close to the other-worldy tide pools, teaming with giant green anemones and crabs. This time, we headed for Pillar Point Bluff,  an easy, mostly flat trail high above the Pacific overlooking the legendary Mavericks surf break.

The reserve is an oddly segmented park, where small communities of homes interrupt coastal hiking paths and beach access isn’t always a guarantee.

On the park map, it looks like Pillar Point Bluff has a dedicated parking lot with restroom facilities. I’d recommend passing on it — the restroom is basically a port-o-potty, and you’ll have to scale a hillside to end up on the trail. We learned from our mistake and followed the locals this time: park on the corner of Bernal Avenue and Ocean Boulevard in Moss Beach. The hiking trail begins there.

As we started our hike, we marveled that it was basically Fort Funston without the packs of off-leash dogs. Hikers walking past all seemed to be friendly local residents out for a seaside stroll. It was a lovely, relaxed time.

As you get to the far edge of the trail, there is a lookout where you might be able to catch a glimpse of surfers taking on the sometimes 50-ft high waves known as Mavericks. You’ll want to bring binoculars; the surf break is 2 miles off the coast. (Yes, this does mean surfers are ferried out by boat to surf there. Here is a very dramatic documentary trailer explaining Mavericks.)

This is a very easy and relaxed hike, perfect for kids, with spectacular views, and just a few minutes south of Pacifica.

2 Responses to “Seaside Hikes: Pillar Point Bluff in Fitzgerald Marine Reserve”

  1. Hi
    I just found your blog. I wondered if you could give me some feed back soon. My family of 4 kids and daughter inlaw and 8 month grand baby are traveling to San Francisco on April2 to the 4th. MY husband and I have been before but haven’t seen everything. Ages of kids are 15, 18, 23, 29 and wife with baby. We are going to rent a house. I am trying to sastify everyone and try to get the right location. So far i have been looking at Stinson beach thinking that they have hiking around there and if we want to go to City which my older 2 want to even with the baby we could do a couple of day trios. Then we could have a nice relaxing house to come back to. I realize that it would be an hours drive. I know there is Muir woods which would be good. And there is alwys tourist things to do in Dan Francisco. But I also found a house in the Walnut Creek area very spectacular and views that you can see Mt. Diablo. Alow I don’t know much about the area I thought the location would be nice. I am torn which way to go. Do you have any suggestions? Lost in Indianapolis Jody


    3/15/2016 at 6:10 am

  2. Hi Jody! Thanks for reading! I just sent you an overly long email with my tips. I hope you all have a fantastic trip!!


    3/16/2016 at 3:13 pm