Hike to Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Monument

Details

Distance

3.2 miles

Elevation Gain

153 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Christopher DeJesus

The foliage along the old road, especially during the fall when the autumn colors burst, make this stroll to one of the most tragic incident sites in California history an interesting one.

The Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Monument, established in 2019, memorializes the site where the Saint Francis Dam, built by famed engineer William Mulholland, collapsed in 1929, tragically killing more than 400 people in the middle of the night as a 150+ foot wave of water crashed through the valley below.

The site is not well marked, yet, can be accessed easily via the north end of the Old San Francisquito Canyon Road.  The old road was closed in the mid-2000's due to storm damage that swept parts of the roadway away and caused land to collapse into the streambed.  Today, although blocked to vehicle traffic, the road is accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.  Many people have used the old road as a place for street art / graffiti, depending on your own view.  However, the pieces of concrete that remain from the collapsed dam have stood untouched, respected for what they memorialize.

The entire old San Francisquito Canyon Road, from its northern intersection with the new road to its southern intersection near the Power Plant #2 and the memorial information boards, measures approximately 1.6 miles and is mostly completely paved, although caution should be used due to areas where the road has fallen off due to storm damage.  The road is most commonly used as an out and back, but could be combined with the new road as a loop trail for bicyclists (it's not advised that pedestrians walk on the new road).  There are additional trails off of the paved portion, so exploring is possible as long as it doesn't disrupt the environment.  Consult with the U.S. Forest Service if there are questions.

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Fitness
Chillin
Photography
Running
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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