The real skyline view

You may or may not be aware of our school’s namesake. Given how often we’re engulfed in fog and have little visibility of the actual sky, Skyline can seem like an ironic name at times, but if you’ve ever parked in the lot behind building eight or done some exploring on foot, you’ve probably encountered the vista point on campus with a scenic view of the ocean, mountains and surrounding communities on a clear day. The vista point is also at the head of Sweeney Ridge trail, which provides an outlet for both casual hikers and overwhelmed students who want to run for the hills.

The Skyline portion of the trail is a modest .2 miles round trip, according the City of Pacifica’s website, although there are some steep slopes. The trail is adorned with wildflowers and continued views of the ocean and mountains throughout. Hawks can be seen soaring above the park and the area is known to be home to intriguing and adorable wildlife, such as rabbits and deer, but it is also a haven for ticks. Bring bug spray.

The trail leads to a network of longer trails, including Mori Ridge trail, which leads all the way to the ocean. Although it’s possible and somewhat tempting to run away for a beach day, sticking with the Sweeney Ridge trail means a much shorter and easier walk back to school and the additional benefit of leading to two historic landmarks

Closest to campus is the Nike SF-51 missile launch site, which was built during the panic of the Cold War. It housed an arsenal of nuclear missiles through the 1960’s and was militarily advantageous due to views of the ocean and shore. However, it was disarmed and abandoned by 1974 due to an arms reduction treaty.

The trail continues to the site of Captain Juan Gaspar de Portolá’s accidental “discovery” of the San Francisco bay area, which made him the first known European explorer to encounter the area. He’d been on a mission to find Monterey, but failed to recognize it once he got there and continued north, leading him to Sweeney Ridge. Although it wasn’t their intent, the Spanish wound up realizing how valuable the San Francisco bay was and established the Presidio just seven years after Portola’s mishap. There’s a small marker commemorating and identifying the sight.

For a quick break from school, these two landmarks are the most accessible and educational, although the trail system extends further.