East Slopes via Sweeney Ridge

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California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day

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East Slopes via Sweeney Ridge
Created On: Feb 20, 2002
Last Edited On: Mar 4, 2002


There are two reasonable trailheads for this approach.
  • My favorite, and the most scenic, is on the southern edge of Skyline College. By car, navigate with Yahoo! Maps. Navigate around Skyline College using this campus map. Head toward "12" on the map, parking in the uppermost parking lot ("Student parking lot #2"). Look for signs for "GGNRA" Parking, and also a hand-painted sign warning you to "Be Alert: Walk in Pairs". The trail climbs steeply out of the parking lot to the south, where it immediately joins a fire road. San Mateo County bus service (SamTrans) runs to Skyline college.
  • The "standard" route is a paved road, built by the US Army when a Nike Missile base sat atop Sweeney Ridge. By car, navigate with Yahoo! Maps. To reach the trailhead, go to the dead-end of Sneath Lane. You'll see a small parking lot, iron fence, and many signs announcing the federal jurisdiction of GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation Area). Pass through the fence and start up the paved road. SamTrans also has a line which runs along Sneath Road. From the map, it appears you will have to walk to the end of Sneath Road (about 1/2 mile uphill).

Route Description

  • From Skyline College: Follow the fire road up, up, and away. You will pass a large water tank on the right. Near the crest of a hill, you will pass an abandoned guard shack for the Nike Missile base. From here, the trail descends steeply into a gully, then climbs stairs up the other side. This is Bay Area lush vegetation at its best! I have often seen large patches of purple wild iris flowers. Continue up the gully until you crest Sweeney Ridge and see the abandoned Nike Missile base. Continue along the flat ridge, past the water tanks on the left. Soon you'll meet the Sneath Lane approach on the left. You'll also see the Portola Discovery Site on the left.
  • From Sneath Lane: Simply climb the paved road for a couple miles. You will reach Sweeney Ridge after 600 feet of climbing (1200' elevation), and meet up with the road from Skyline College. On the left, you'll see the Portola Discovery Site.
Now continue traveling southeast along Sweeney Ridge, on a compacted dirt road. After another mile or so you must jump over a locked gate, and then at the road fork veer uphill (right) onto the Montara Mountain north access road. The road zigzags gently uphill, following ridgelines to the south. The last steep climb to Montara Mountain is along Whiting Ridge.

Until I supply a better map, this LARGE TopoZone map shows the approach along the Whiting Ridge Road.

Essential Gear

This is a 17-mile hike/run on well-beaten trails. Go light and fast. Be ready for fast-moving fog nearly any time of year.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.