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Sharp Park Beach

General Information
Sharp Park Beach has picnic facilities, pier with cafe, fishing, a walking promenade, vista point parking and nature trails. The basic hours of operation for the pier are from sunrise to sunset.
More Pacifica Pier Info  
Pacifica is home to one of the best fishing piers in the state. Because of the number and quality of the fish caught off Pacifica's shores, the pier has earned a number one ranking among anglers in the Bay Area. Although fishing can be good year round, many consider the summer months to be the best when salmon and striped bass can be caught. No admission is charged and no fishing license is required at the Pacifica Municipal Pier.
The pier is open daily from 4AM to 10PM, unless closed due to inclement weather, high surf, repairs, etc.
The pier is 1,140 feet long and fronts directly on Sharp Park Beach, an area that can see strong winds and punishing waves which can cause closure of the pier with little or no notice.
The pier has lights, fish cleaning stations, benches, restrooms and a coffee house/snack bar directly in front of the entrance. Free parking is located on adjacent streets and in a nearby lot. Handicapped parking is also available, with pier accessibility via a ramp leading to the south side of the pier.
Travel Highway 1 to Pacifica, take the Paloma Avenue/Francisco Boulevard exit, take Paloma west to Beach Boulevard, turn left and travel south to the pier.
The Rev. Herschell Harkins Memorial Pier (a.k.a. the Pacifica Municipal Pier) was built in 1973 and designed in part to serve as the support structure for the city’s now-obsolete sewer outfall line. The 1,140 feet long “L” shape pier has been closed for repairs and re-opened several times over the last decade or so. It is currently considered in good shape, though it shows the result of its age and the heavy use it receives.
Recreation Trail Map
Download a recreation
trail map from Sharp Park Pier to Rockaway Beach via Mori Point.

Nature Walk Narrative
Shortly before sunset, a platoon of brown p
elicans wings its way south to settle for the night on Mori Rock. A flock of tiny sanderlings
retreat and advance with the breaking waves, snatching their dinner on the run. Gulls swoop and scream while a dignified sandpiper looks on in disdain. A fishermen tries one last baited hook before the sun goes down ... just an ordinary summer evening at Sharp Park Beach.

Though not your typical golden sandy stretch (the sand is tinged brown from the high iron content), this beach has plenty to interest the naturalist as well as the people watcher. Cormorants, phalaropes, loons, terns and murres fish the waters; shorebirds patrol the beach; songbirds and ducks hang out in the marsh area; and hawks and kestrels soar the uplifts and hunt in the woods nearby.

For a 2.5 mile loop walk, drive to Beach Boulevard and Montecito Avenue where there's plenty of parking. Or ride
, get off at Clarendon and walk west three blocks to the beach. Take your binoculars, a windbreaker (never know when the offshore winds will whip up) and some comfy shoes.

Along the promenade you may see brilliantly hued skynosaurs (the king of the acrobatic kites) engaged in a mock battle. Those small dark shapes bobbing in the water are probably California sea lions or harbor seals. Unless you're a very strong swimmer, don't join them - this beach is famous for its treacherous riptides.

Pelican watching
is a favorite activity in the summer months. Watch closely as a pelican, like some prehistoric dive bomber, plunges straight down into the surf, scoops up dinner in his enormous bill and lifts aloft, his progress followed by hungry gulls and terns hoping to scavenge a meal.

Fly fishermen follow the pelican's flight pattern closely. When flocks of birds are diving madly, they're often feeding on schools of anchovies. And directly below the anchovies are salmon and bass. Fishers report catching kingfish, flounder, perch, stripers, salmon and halibut, as well as crab.

Head south along the berm built to keep out the huge winter waves that wash the shore. On the left are the links of
Sharp Park Golf Course. The course wraps itself around Laguna Salada, a natural lake ringed with reeds, cattails and tules. The tules are a natural building material used by the native Ohlone Indians to construct homes, fishing nets and even raincapes. Living in the marsh are a variety of birds including mallards, coots and red-winged blackbirds.

Donated to the City of San Francisco long before Pacifica was incorporated, Sharp Park Golf Course is often referred to as "the poor man's Pebble Beach." The course was designed by noted golf architect Alister Mackenzie and landscaped by Golden Gate Park's John McLaren. Back in 1932 when the course opened, games cost 70¢ on weekdays and $1 on weekends.

The golf course is home to the rare and endangered
San Francisco Garter Snake
. The harmless, 2-3 foot green snake has bold stripes down its back of turquoise, red and black and has a turquoise underbelly.

The trees west of the lagoon are all that remain of a thick stand of Monterey Cypress planted by McLaren in the thirties. The ghostly gray trunks represent those that died from excess saltwater when the seas broke through and flooded the course during the winter of 1983.

At the end of the berm is Mori's Point Road, a dirt lane leading east. Turn inland and experience the sudden quiet of leaving the surf zone. Watch for songbirds feasting on the ripe prairie grass seeds on the right. Most of the wildflowers are spent but there are still patches of wild radish with dainty lavender or white flowers, yellow monkeyflower, tall mallow with its purple blooms and lace-like yarrow. The lane has several domestic flowers including fuchsia, climbing rose and nasturtium, probably planted by folks living in West Fairway Park, the small community on the left. Near Highway 1 is a fork in the road. Keep left toward Bradford Way near the Moose Lodge. Proceed north to Francisco Blvd. Then trace the border of the golf course back to the beach. Or stop off at the Spanish-style clubhouse which houses a restaurant, pro shop and bar. They're open to the public seven days a week.

For a delightful side trip, cross under the freeway at Fairway Drive (follow the golf carts through the tunnel). A lovely tree-lined stream, Fairway Creek, bisects the course. Walk upstream to watch giant dragonflies streak over the fern-edged waters, check out the birdlife in the willows or lazily count the tadpoles.

June Langhoff (copyright 2000, all rights reserved)