MOSS BEACH -- San Mateo County is poised to give the public its most detailed look yet at plans to transform Highway 1 at Devils Slide into one of the most dramatic coastal trails between the Marin Headlands and Big Sur.
County parks officials will present a conceptual plan for the trail Thursday evening at a meeting in Moss Beach, giving nature lovers and others their first opportunity to give feedback. The county is preparing to take over from Caltrans the notorious cliffside road that linked Pacifica and Montara. The Parks Department aims to open the trail in early 2014.
The Devils Slide Trail will run 1.3 miles between parking lots Caltrans has constructed near the northern and southern portals to a pair of bypass tunnels that opened in March. The 4,200-foot Tom Lantos Tunnels rendered obsolete the old stretch of Highway 1, which was prone to landslides during winter storms that caused lengthy closures.
The county's plan calls for the trail to be about 24 feet wide, with two 6-foot bicycle lanes to the east and a 12-foot walking path closer to the cliff's edge. The county envisions building two scenic overlooks, each with coin-operated spotting scopes and benches, as well as restrooms and drinking fountains.
"I think this is a great opportunity out here," said Gary Lockman, superintendent of county parks. "The views are spectacular."
The trail will be fenced on either side, mostly with 3-foot concrete barriers known as K-rails, according to the plan. The county may paint the barriers an earth tone to blend in with the scenery. The overlooks will be surrounded by metal guardrails strung with cables.
Don Horsley, a member of the county Board of Supervisors whose district includes the Devils Slide area, said he is excited about the vision for the trail. But the former San Mateo County sheriff has concerns about safety.
The cliffs at Devils Slide are precipitous. At least a dozen people died in car accidents there between 1990 and 2012, some plunging several hundred feet to the rocks at surf's edge.
"We're going to have to do a lot of education and a lot of management to make sure people stay on the right side of the K-rails," Horsley said.
The supervisor said he is also worried there may not be enough parking spaces -- there will be just 38, according to Lockman. If parking demand far exceeds capacity, Horsley said, the county may need to consider a shuttle.
The county has budgeted nearly $2 million to prepare the trail, though Lockman said the job currently is estimated to cost roughly $1.2 million. The work will begin after the county takes over the roadway next month.
The work includes "microsurfacing" the pavement, or coating it with a polymer to create a smoother surface, which will benefit bicyclists. It also includes signs, trail striping and some cyclone fencing to shield peregrine falcons that have been nesting on the southern end of Devils Slide.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.
What: Presentation of Devils Slide Trail conceptual plan
Where: Cypress Meadows Conference Center, 343 Cypress Ave., Moss Beach
When: 7-9 p.m. Thursday
Information: Visit www.smcoparks.org/dstrailproject