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Mussel Rock Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Mussel Rock Area

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  • Overlooking Mussel Rock Beach.- Mussel Rock Area
  • Dogs are welcome, but coyotes are a hazard in the area.- Mussel Rock Area
  • Several windsocks attest to the frequent hang gliding activity here.- Mussel Rock Area
  • View of Mussel Rock from the north end of the park.- Mussel Rock Area
  • Looking north from the further reach of the upper trail. Marin Headlands in the distance.- Mussel Rock Area
  • It is a bit of a scramble down to the beach.- Mussel Rock Area
  • In spite of this sign, the foot paths show a lot of people using this way to the beach.- Mussel Rock Area
  • Mussel Rock.- Mussel Rock Area
  • Mussel Rock from the overlook.- Mussel Rock Area
  • Looking south toward the Pacifica Pier and Mori Point.- Mussel Rock Area
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Access to many miles of beach walking. Nice coastal views. Dogs allowed on leash.
Cons: 
Shore area is very degraded. Potential danger to dogs from coyotes.
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Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Location type: 
Sandy beach
Rocky shore
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The Mussel Rock area on the border of Pacifica and Daly City is best-known as a popular hang gliding spot. The on-shore area is quite riddled with gravel roads, trails, drainage ditches and debris, making it less attractive for hiking than other nearby areas like Mori Point and Pedro Point. The area has had significant mudslides over the years, and the city of Daly City has done a lot of work to prevent homes from falling into the ocean. In the meantime, this area is best used as an access to the beach on the north end of the park, which at low tide allows hikers to walk for miles to Thornton State Beach, Ocean Beach, and all the way to Lands End if the tide is right.

The area near Mussel Rock is quite interesting, both historically and geologically. It is best known as the point at which the San Andreas Fault crosses onto land from the northwest. It is also the site of the second-largest active slide area in California (the first being Devil's Slide) which collapsed quite dramatically during the 1906 earthquake. The location was involved in a 19th century railroad project and a short-lived coastal highway project, and a tunnel through the bluff near Mussel Rock itself that is still visible was once used by bootleggers and smugglers during Prohibition to hide contraband liquor.

Mussel Rock is a large sea stack just off shore at the south end of the park below the parking area. There is a nice viewing area quite close to Mussel Rock where the crashing waves, birds, and seals can often be comfortably observed without a lot of company.

Note: Dogs are allowed on-leash in the park and on the beach, and it is a very good idea to observe this regulation. There have been dogs attacked and killed here in daylight by coyotes as recently as spring of 2015!

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Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(6 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(99 within a 30 mile radius)

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