San Gregorio Store to Pigeon Point Lighthouse

July 22, San Mateo County
San Gregorio Store to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. 11.8 miles

Last night we celebrated Linda Hanes’s birthday. Boy did we celebrate! David Hanes arrived with a single-layer frosted birthday cake, our volunteer cooks for the night brought brownies, the wife of State Parks Maintenance Chief Jon Zaugg baked a chocolate cake and J’s wife, Dana, brought a cherry torte. As a result of all this largesse, we all had larger lunches today.

One half mile after leaving the store with Carl May we crossed Highway One (now called the Cabrillo Highway) and on to San Gregorio Beach. The wind was still and the fog thick. Here in the south coast of San Mateo County, the beaches have very picturesque names. First, there is San Gregorio, a stopover point for the Portola expedition of 1769. Portola was searching for Monterey Bay, missed it, but found San Francisco Bay in his wanderings. From San Gregorio we were able to walk the beach to the next access beach, Pomponio. Pomponio was an Ohlone chief who long fought against the white settlers. Next came Pescadero, followed by Bean Hollow (Arroyo de los Frijoles). Each of these named beaches lies at the end of a coastal stream. Between these access beaches we walked at the base of 100-foot tall vertical sandstone bluffs. In spots, even though the highway was at the top of the bluff, it seemed as if we might still be back on the Lost Coast.

Our morning break was at a surfer beach accessed by an ad hoc trail down off the highway along a large CalTrans drainage pipe. Here Paul Schoch spent his time sketching the scene. Lunch was at Bean Hollow where it was good to see busloads of summer camp children enjoying the waves and many artists painting plein air.

Although the traffic on the highway here travels very fast, the wide shoulders are an improvement over the highway further north. As we walked along, we played at getting the passing motorists to react to our presence. Will a wave from us be returned? Preliminary results indicate a good rate of return waves from Volkswagens, convertibles and other out of the ordinary cars. Mercedes Benzes are not worth the effort; the drivers stare stoically ahead.

Our day ended at Pigeon Point Lighthouse. In 2000, large pieces of the lighthouse structure came loose and crashed to the ground and it was closed to the public. In 2002, the Coast Guard decided to divest itself of the property. State Parks is currently applying for ownership. Over 3 million dollars will be required to repair the structure so that it can again be open to public viewing.     

(Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)

Left: Informal trail at the base of the cliffs. Right: San Gregorio Beach.