The rain has moved on but the saturated earth is being blamed for landslides along a parking lot at Lands End, just up the hill from the Cliff House, overlooking the mouth of the San Francisco Bay.
Park rangers decided to close a portion of the Lands End Coastal Trail on Tuesday after a 200-foot-long slide took out a couple 60-foot cypress trees – and left six more leaning into the hill – sometime late Monday night.
It wasn't until about noon Tuesday when the National Park Service placed barricades and signage to warn visitors to stay away.
The trail closure begins at the Camino del Mar junction and continues to the Navy Memorial parking staircase. The Park Service is short staffed this holiday week, so the trail will stay closed until next week at the earliest.
“We’re going to see what the situation is after the weekend and hopefully we’ll be able to open it soon,” said Howard Levitt, director of communications for the National Park Service.
Rangers said the trail itself is stable, at the moment, but it does have the potential to slip further. “A primary concern is that trees in the area could fall across the trail,” said Alexandra Picavet, public affairs specialist for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Rangers said the 1,500-foot stretch of trail is usually heavily used, but the closure won’t have much of an impact on visitors: There is another trail that parallels this one a little higher up.
The situation caught the attention of Dr. Jonathan Stock of the United States Geological Survey. He said the area is prone to slides.
“The trail itself is built within a much older landslide,” Stock said, “You can see there’s a steep hill: that steep hill is the old headwall of that landslide.”
Back in the late 1800s, Adolph Sutro had a steam-driven street railroad line that ran visitors from downtown to his Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. That rail line, now long gone, was the victim of a landslide through these same hills.