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Pacifica Hiking Trails With the Best Coastal Views

was written by Jessica, 2020-07-24 07:49:45

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Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I’ve rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views in this Pacifica hiking guide!

I’ve been spending my weekends over there quite recently in an effort to explore closer to home, and am constantly adding other activities and restaurants to my list of things to do in Pacifica.

Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I've rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views!

The area is known for its oceanside bluffs, alcoholic slushies (yas!), perpetual fog, and an underrated surf scene. The hikes in Pacifica provide panoramic coastal views, and there’s endless stretches of golden sand beaches in the area, too.

Kinda like Half Moon Bay, Pacifica is San Francisco’s funky, underrated beach town to the south. Although it’s not as sleepy as HMB. And you’ll find even more surfers over here, believe it or not. 

Not to sound like a total cliche, but Pacifica really is a coastal gem in Northern California. And hardly anyone thinks to visit! Including myself, until recently!

Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert (I just moved to California a few years ago and recently started exploring Pacifica), but I wanted to share all the cool things I’ve found in the area, as well as the easy Pacifica hiking trails I’ve walked if you’re looking to get outside! 

So, get ready for a local‚Äôs guide to Pacifica hiking ‚Äď filled with all the best hikes in Pacifica with the best views!

Where is Pacifica Exactly?

Nope, it’s not in San Francisco! And it’s not in Half Moon Bay either! The charming moderately-sized beach town of Pacifica is located on the coast between the two! Not many people realize this, but it’s actually right on the PCH. It’s a real shame the area isn’t typically included on Highway 1 trips, although it’s one of my favorite spots on the Pacific Coast Highway!

Pacifica makes for a great day trip from San Francisco being only 15 minutes or so down the coast (depending on traffic, of course!). And it honestly feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Pacifica‚Äôs a relaxed oasis compared to the crowds of SF. If you wanna truly feel away without going too far, head out on some of these hikes in Pacifica ‚Äď just bring a light jacket!

‚Üí READ NEXT: 30+ Day Trip Ideas from San Francisco (all my favorites!)

How to Get to Pacifica

Since Pacifica is oh so close to San Francisco, you can easily drive down the 1 and voila, you’re there! If you don’t have easy access to a car (which I know is quite the norm in SF), it’ll be an inexpensive Uber/Lyft ride away. 

And thankfully, there are actually a whole bunch of things to do in Pacifica that are within walking distance to each other, so you can get dropped off at one spot and then explore other areas nearby.

Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I've rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views!

If you’re visiting from SF without a car, I recommend getting dropped off at either of these spots:

  • Pacifica State Beach: within walking distance to Taco Bell (yes, you need to go to this location), Puerto 27 Restaurant, an easy hike/walk with great views of the beach, as well as Rockaway Beach
  • Mori Point (Parking Lot): you can easily spend two hours or so hiking in Pacifica around Mori Point, and then walking along the path to the pier, going as far as Pedro Point Brewing and Mazzetti‚Äôs Bakery if you get hungry
Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I've rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views!
you’ll most likely come across some old bunkers while hiking in Pacifica

When to Visit Pacifica (Weather and Fog Forecasts)

There’s no perfect time to go hiking in Pacifica, but I’d recommend between July and October. This is when the areas typically the warmest and sees the least rain. 

The winter can get pretty chilly and is when the rain comes, so stay away if you’re after pleasant hiking temps and dry weather. 

Like other parts of the Northern California coastline (like Half Moon Bay and Pescadero), the weather is temperamental at best. Half the days are clear and sunny, while the others are covered in dense fog. 

It is what it is. Temps don‚Äôt change too drastically (with an average temperature of 58¬įF for the year), but it‚Äôll obviously feel way warmer in the sun.¬†

And yes, you can lay out in your bathing suit and get a tan some days (don’t forget the sunscreen even when the fog rolls in).

Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I've rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views!
got lucky with no fog here!

But don’t expect to go swimming over here- the ocean water is just too cold for that (like most of NorCal, sorry). You WILL see surfers in the water, but they wear pretty thick wetsuits to stay warm. 

If you find yourself with a sunny day in Pacifica, consider yourself lucky. The fog here is real, y’all! The Linda Mar area of Pacifica see’s the most sunshine, but you never really know until you get there. 

We’ve visited year round and have had endless afternoons of fog, while other days there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky. Like I said, temperamental! My advice? Just always keep a light jacket with you and you’ll be good to go!

Another thing you have to understand about the area is that the weather and fog changes pretty drastically pretty quickly. You could be hiking in Pacifica with clear skies, then BAM! The fog starts to roll in and it instantly feels 15-20 degrees colder. Or you could be driving through thick fog and in a mere 5 minutes you’re awarded with sunny skies. 

Regardless of the fog/no-fog situation, there’s usually some sort of breeze. I mean, this is the Northern California coast, it gets windy! It’s typically not too bad and feels more like a natural air-conditioning (something none of us have in our NorCal apartments!). 

What to Bring on the Pacifica Hiking Trails (and other Hiking Essentials)

Since none of these hikes in Pacifica are longer than a few miles, I don’t feel the need to bring tons of hiking gear. Here’s what I do in fact bring along, although most are your typical essentials anyways.

A light jacket: An absolute MUST, even in summer, and yes, even when it feels like it’s 80 degrees out! Because of the crazy unpredictability of the weather here (it’s no joke), I always tie a sweater or light jacket around my waist. 

Water bottle: Although the hikes in Pacifica aren’t too strenuous, there’s not much shade on many of the trails, meaning you’ll probably get extra thirsty extra fast.

Hiking shoes/trail runners: Since some of these hikes in Pacifica are actually paved, don‚Äôt worry too much about your footwear. Regular sneakers will be just fine, but I recommend trail runners if you‚Äôve got ‚Äėem (especially for patches of loose sand/rocks/gravel).

I’ve actually worn sport sandals on Devil’s Slide, but this probably wasn’t the best idea as my ankles and feet hurt afterwards (zero ankle support obviously).

Snacks: I always throw in an energy bar, some almonds, plantain chips (low salted), and/or dried fruit (I‚Äôm obsessed with the ‚Äújust dried mango‚ÄĚ from Trader Joes).

Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I've rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views!
come in late spring/early summer and you’ll find wildflowers all over!

A Note on Cell Service

Cell service is pretty good on most of the Pacifica hiking trails, so I typically use my phone if for some reason we’re looking for a specific path. It’s kinda hard to get lost, I promise. And just FYI- I have T-Mobile, so this may not apply to you. 

I haven’t seen any paper maps or guides at the beginning of the trails, so just keep that in mind if you usually rely on those. 

Areas in particular that I’ve had little or no service were at Devil’s Slide and Sweeney Ridge. If you’re meeting up with friends make sure to communicate with them in advance. 

Walks and Hikes in Pacifica

Besides the beaches, hiking in Pacifica is one of the most popular things to do here. Or are the Pacifica trails more popular than the beach? Okay, I guess they both win as #1!

Since the town is practically on the Pacific Ocean (the Pacific Coast Highway runs right through it), it’s not hard to find plenty of hikes in Pacifica with panoramic coastal views. And they’re not hard, yay!

Expect to find the hikes in Pacifica to be gradual and on rolling hills (no crazy steep mountains over here!), overlooking the waves of the ocean, and nearby forested canyons. 

Here are my favorite Pacifica hiking trails, which I’ve been loving as of lately!

MORI POINT LOOP TRAIL

  • Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip (with the option to go further)
  • Elevation Gain: 400ft
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Rating: Moderate
  • Guide: Link
Looking for the best hikes in Pacifica, California? Look no further! I've rounded up my favorite Pacifica hiking trails with panoramic coastal views!
one of the best views on one of the best hikes in Pacifica!

Ohhh, Mori Point ‚Äď one of my all-time favorite hikes in Pacifica. A friend first took me to Mori Point a few years ago, and it was love at first sight. I was enamored with the oceanside bluffs, wildflowers, the numerous Pacifica hiking trails, and the sparkly-blue Pacific Ocean.

We’ve since been to Mori Point countless times, and it’s now one of our favorite things to do in Pacifica. I mean, I even dubbed it one of the best stops on the Pacific Coast Highway, an area you won’t find on too many other PCH road trip guides. It’s worthy of an afternoon trip for sure! 



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