Ridge Trail by Reservation at San Francisco Peninsula Watershed

The Bay Area Ridge Trail crosses the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed on the Fifield-Cahill Trail between locked gates at Sweeney Ridge and Skylawn Memorial Park. A short section also passes through the cemetery itself. Entering from Sweeny Ridge, the watershed trail undulates past coastal chaparral with views of The Peninsula, San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean before reaching a forest of Douglas fir. The watershed includes three reservoirs: San Andreas Lake, Crystal Springs and Pilarcitos.

Watershed hikes and bicycle rides require reservations with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and are led by volunteer trail leaders. Book a reservation here.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

TRAIL MAP (date hiked)

Our Journal

We spent months waiting to book a point-to-point hike across the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed. Then, as the big day approached, the weather forecast showed nothing but rain. Our group of four was prepared to get wet, but our dedicated and trained volunteer trail leader, Hal, offered to lead the hike the next day, when the sun would be shining. Thank you, Hal!

Unique trail perspectives of regional landmarks are always fun. For example, we live southwest of Montara Mountain and have hiked to North Peak on several occasions, but we enjoyed the view of the opposite face visible from the locked watershed. In addition, the sweeping view of the San Francisco International Airport layout is unique and impressive. And the boomerang-shaped Pilarcitos Reservoir, San Francisco’s first, is visible to the public only from the air and this trail.

But what really stood out on this limited access hike was the unsullied beauty of coastal scrub and forestland that has been left largely undisturbed by hikers, bicyclists and roaming domestic animals. Trailside stands of shrubs and trees looked strong and healthy. Weedy undergrowth was minimal. Bushwhacked paths, litter and abandoned poo bags were non-existent. Nice.

Note: The short Ridge Trail connector at Skylawn Memorial Park simply follows the road through the cemetery. The cemetery segment is part of an ongoing Ridge Trail trail realignment that brings the trail up to Highway 92 through the cemetery rather than down to the highway at the watershed’s quarry gate.

A Douglas fir forest on the trail at the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed. Dan Page/CoastsideSlacking

Miles we hiked


(with returns and connectors)

Elevation gain






Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 251 out of 405 miles


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