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SFPUC Approves New Six-Mile Trail Plus Other Education and Public Access Improvements on Peninsula Watershed

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Southern Skyline Boulevard Ridge Trail Extension Project will provide additional recreational and educational opportunities on SFPUC land in San Mateo County 

San Francisco, CA – A plan to add six miles of public trails on Peninsula Watershed land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was approved this week. The new Southern Skyline Boulevard Ridge Trail Extension Project will add to the SFPUC’s existing Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail, a 10-mile path where volunteer docents will continue to offer guided hiking, running, and mountain biking events three days a week.

“As stewards of the Peninsula Watershed, we want to make sure that we provide the public with access to these unique and sensitive landscapes that is compatible with our responsibility to provide high quality drinking water to our customers,” said SFPUC Acting General Manager Michael Carlin. “This six-mile expansion of the ridge trail will allow the public to explore the nature of the Peninsula while learning more about the importance of protecting our watershed and its surrounding habitats.”

The six-mile trail expansion will run alongside State Route 35 and will be served by a new parking lot and two restrooms. The project also includes a new half-mile trail loop—compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards—as part of the existing Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail and designed to support education opportunities, particularly with school programs. 

Unlike the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail, the new trail will be accessible via an annual permit system. Users will be able to access the trail without supervision by obtaining a permit which will include an educational tutorial on how the watershed is managed to protect ecological resources and drinking water quality, and how to responsibly use the trail. The SFPUC is actively working with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Peninsula Open Space Trust, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council to connect this new trail to adjacent public trail networks.

“Tuesday’s action was a high point along the path to fully connect the Bay Area Ridge Trail,” said Janet McBride, Executive Director of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. “Huge thanks to SFPUC, and countless organizations and advocates who worked so hard over decades to design an environmentally sensitive, safe and spectacular trail. We can't wait for the ribbon cutting!”

Construction on the project, which was approved by the SFPUC Commission on Tuesday, will start next year and is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

The SFPUC owns approximately 23,000 acres of land in the Peninsula Watershed. The area contains three reservoirs—Crystal Springs, San Andreas, and Pilarcitos—that provide drinking water to approximately one million people in northern San Mateo and San Francisco counties.  

Long protected as a source of drinking water, this watershed is also home to the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in the Bay Area. In 2003, the SFPUC opened the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail, which allowed the public to access the watershed through guided trips led by volunteer docents. Those trips, which are available three days a week through an online reservation system, include walking, hiking, biking and horseback excursions.
The Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail and its Southern Skyline Boulevard Expansion are part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail network, a connection of local trails that will one day amount to a 550-mile loop that will circle the entire Bay. The Southern Skyline Boulevard Expansion will fill a critical gap in that proposed 550-mile network.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates and delivers clean power for municipal buildings, residential customers, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at