pahavit (pahavit) wrote,

Today's field trip: San Bruno Mountain Park

Today's field trip: San Bruno Mountain Park

Today D. and I took a trip to San Bruno Mountain State and County Park, just south of San Francisco.  Over 3,000 acres of it is parkland, and for some reason it's both a county park and a state park (although San Mateo County basically runs it).

The park has day-use facilities, hiking trails, and beautiful views of the City and all around the Bay. From the 1,314' summit we could see Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County to the north, Mt. Diablo and the Oakland foothills to the east, and the Farallon Islands out to the west in the Pacific Ocean. We were pretty sure we could even see the huge white blob of the one-time blimp hangar all the way down at Moffat Field in Mountain View.

There are remains of an old Nike Missile early warning radar site at the summit. This radar, with others around the Bay Area, was used to detect approaching enemy aircraft and direct the missiles to their target.  The summit also has clusters of broadcast antennas, directing local TV and radio signals to their targets.

The park is home to a wide variety of birds and animals as well as several endangered plant and butterfly species. These butterflies (San Bruno Elfin, Mission Blue, Callippe Silverspot, and Bay Checkerspot) are found in only a few other places in the entire world. Some of the endangered plants are Coast Rock Cress, 3 species of Manzanita, Franciscan Wallflower, San Francisco Owl's Clover and San Francisco Campion. An endangered snake also lives on the mountain (San Francisco Garter Snake).

We saw some turkey vultures, and little brown chirpy birds that didn't want to hold still long enough for me to get a good look at them. There were a few hummingbirds doing courtship flights over one section of the trail. In one spot we also saw a cat that elusively kept a distance from us, so it was probably feral. There were mountain lion warning signs in several places in the park, but the cat we saw was very small and black, so there was no chance it was a mountain lion, not even a cub.

In spite of the sweeping views we called it quits after a point because of the fierce wind. Prevailing westerlies off the Pacific are commonly measured at 30 mph or more on the mountain, and there was only a certain amount of fresh air we could take (especially 30 mph fresh air). So we came home, windblown and a bit sunburned.

Tags: field trip, san bruno mountain park

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