Hike Date: August 28, 2011
Distance: ~ 11 miles
Trail(s): Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail
Where’s it at? West side of Crystal Springs Reservoir near 92 and 35


This was my second trip on the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail, which is also part of the much larger Bay Area Ridge Trail. The Fifield-Cahill Trail is managed by the SF Public Utilities Commission, and meanders through forested hills and grasslands within the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed. The area has a large acreage and also serves as a refuge for wildlife, housing 3 bodies of water – Lake Pilarcitos, Crystal Springs Reservoir, and San Andreas Lake. Water comes from rainfall as well as Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite. Only volunteer docent led trips are available in the area, whether hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. See the links below for information on future trips and how to register.

This trip was a little over 11 miles starting at Skyline Quarry and heading to Mile Marker 5.75, and then back again. A good portion of the elevation gain along this trail occurs in the first 1.5 miles with some fairly steep grades. The beginning was pretty foggy but by an hour into the trip it was full sunshine. Most of this portion of the trail is mostly shaded by Douglas Firs but there are plenty of wide open sunny areas too if the weather permits. You probably want to bring sunscreen and layers are recommended.

Counterintuitively (isn’t that a word?), there is no water available in the watershed! Even though you walk along major water pipelines and are overlooking where much of the peninsula and San Francisco tap water comes from, you will need to bring your own in this area. I brought 2 liters with me and drank them both. Being that I love cold water I usually fill the water containers 1/3 full with water and throw them in the freezer overnight, topping them off in the morning. Doing this ensures I have a cold, refreshing drink of water even at the end of the trail.

This was a volunteer docent-led group hike but there were only 3 other hikers along on this journey. A 4th and 5th person were there at the beginning but they left when the docent was 15 minutes beyond the suggested starting time. All 3 of the others were very nice. The trip took us from about 10am to returning at about 3:15pm to the parking lot. We stopped for about 20 minutes for lunch at “Five Points”, a junction of 5 service roads in the area.

I’m going back to this area once more because with this trip and the one I took a month ago Hiking Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail from Cemetery Gate, I still haven’t seen the very upper portion between MM 5.75 and the Portola Gate.

This is definitely a nice hike and I recommend giving it a shot whether you’re a fan of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the watershed, Old growth Douglas Fir, nature refuges, or just hiking in the peninsula. See the links below from the SFPUC for information on future trips.

Photos from Hiking Fifield-Cahill (click to enlarge)

Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry
Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry
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Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry Hiking Fifield Cahill and Bay Area Ridge Trail hike from Skyline Quarry

Directions to Skyline Quarry Parking


View Hiking Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail from Skyline Quarry in a larger map

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