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Bay Area Ridge Trail: Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail

A permit only section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 13.2 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  This guide covers a 13 mile section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  It is a through hike that starts at the Sweeney Ridge... more »

Tips:  Plan this hike well in advance so you can procure a permit for your group.
Dress in layers.  The ridges can be very windy and... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Skyline College to Nike Missile Base

The hike starts at the back of Skyline college, this ridge is extremely windy and socked in with fog.  We had some great blasting winds that were giving the abundant crows some grief while they soared overhead.  Within a mile or so you reach the first building from the old Nike Missile Base in this area.  As your round the first... More

2. Bay Area Discovery Site

At this point you've gained a fair bit of elevation and now it's a nice walk along the ridge top with a stop at the Bay Area Discovery Site where Portola's Group discovered San Francisco Bay.  There's a neat Sighting Sculpture with most local peaks labeled and the Farrallone Islands. 

3. Entrance to SFPUC land

Around Mile 3 you enter the SFPUC land through a locked gate.  A SFPUC truck was waiting there when we arrived and seemed to shadow us for the entire hike.  Not sure if this was purely surveillance, boredom or compassion for people who may have trouble on this fairly long hike.

4. Lunch Break

We stopped for a lunch at Mile 5 or so at a nice spot with a new picnic table, a restroom(very nice and placed every two miles along this section) and a great row of trees to provide a windbreak.  Lunch was eaten quickly and we were back on the march.

5. Pilarcitos Lake and old growth Douglas Firs

After some number of miles the trail drops down into the Pilarcitos Reservoir area (you never really get a great view of it) and a fantastic old growth stand of Douglas Firs.  This section was amazing with ubiquitous Banana Slugs,  some great mushrooms and fungus to photograph and the truly amazing candelabra style firs.  I've read ... More

6. Monterey Cypress and Quarry section

The hike ends with a descent through an eerie stand of Monterey Cypress that were planted here in the 1930s for reasons unknown. As you round the final corner you find yourself back in Skyline Quarry where you started.