Notch Trail

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Notch Trail


  • Pacifica Pier and the Farallon Islands seen from Skyline College.- Notch Trail
  • Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • Indian paintbrush (Castilleja).- Notch Trail
  • Mount Diablo (3,848') and the San Francisco Bay. - Notch Trail
  • Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • Lupine (Lupinus) is critical for mission blue butterflies to lay their eggs.- Notch Trail
  • Coast Guard building on the Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • San Francisco and the Sutro Tower from Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • Coast Range fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii).- Notch Trail
  • Indian paintbrush (castilleja).- Notch Trail
  • Mission blue butterfly habitat.- Notch Trail
  • Mori Point seen from the Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • A mission blue butterfly (Aricia icarioides missionensis) floats through protected habitat on the Notch Trail.- Notch Trail
  • Sweeny Ridge Trail junction.- Notch Trail
Overview + Weather
Close to San Francisco. Joins with additional trails. Coastal views.
Short. No dogs. Residential.
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
400.00 ft (121.92 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Total Distance: 
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
750.00 ft (228.60 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


The Notch Trail begins at Skyline College, a 20-minute drive south of San Francisco, and at first glance it appears to be a very common hike. After just few hundred meters, however, the trail leaves the trees for an impressive vantage point from which to view the Bay Area. The climb up a series of substantial, rolling hills is assisted by steep wooden staircases, rendering the trail unfit for mountain bikes and equestrians. Registering only 1 mile, hikers seeking more mileage often continue on to Mori Ridge and Sweeney Ridge trails.

An abandoned Coast Guard outpost sits atop the exposed ridge of costal scrub and wildflowers, and you'll see mission blue butterfly habitat along the way. This endangered species can only be found in the Bay Area, and it is generally threatened by the preponderance of invasive species that crowd out the plants needed for survival. Mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats are known to frequent the hills above San Bruno, and they are generally not aggressive unless provoked. Remain calm, control your pets, and stand your ground if you encounter wildlife.

There is limited parking reserved for Golden Gate National Recreation Area hikers at Skyline College lot #2. Parking in other lots requires a student permit, although street parking is available across campus in a residential neighborhood.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(6 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(98 within a 30 mile radius)

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