Diamond in the Rough: Mussel Rock Park

Contributor: Brittany Hopkins

Any hound-loving Urban Deer will tell you that finding a place to hike with your furry friend can be pretty difficult. I was well aware of the challenge — but adopted a fur ball of my own (we call him Grant) just a few weeks ago. He's been itching to go hiking since we brought him home, so I made it my mission to find a spot that would be exciting for the both of us. Surprisingly, it didn't take long to find a winner: Mussel Rock Park.

 A perfect day at Mussel Rock Park

A perfect day at Mussel Rock Park

With so many websites documenting the gorgeous hiking spots in and around San Francisco, I was shocked to find very little information available about this gorgeous spot in Daly City. Yes, you read that right: in Daly City. The city's website says little to nothing about it, and you won't find a single trail mapped out on Everytrail. But a handful of Yelpers raved about the views and The Chronicle said it is indeed leashed-dog friendly, so we decided to give it a shot. 

It's just a 15-20 minute drive (on a good day) from Downtown San Francisco. Park in the free lot and you'll find yourself on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Trample straight down the muddy cliffside on unofficial trails or leisurely stroll down a wide winding road, then navigate a rocky descent to the beach.

Once you hit the sand, you'll quickly learn that they don't call this place Mussel Rock Beach for nothing. We were surprised to find giant rocks covered in mussels all around us. And yes, they are edible. A father/daughter duo armed with gloves and scissors were actually harvesting a batch for dinner. We didn't take any home, but I think Grant noshed on at least one when I wasn't looking.

 Real, live mussels everywhere on Mussel Rock Beach!

Real, live mussels everywhere on Mussel Rock Beach!

When you're done examining the mussel farm, climb back up to the road and stroll around the cliff while watching paragliders lift off all around you or hike three miles to Thornton State Beach – which is just as dog-friendly.

Don't forget to stop and smell the wildflowers along the way!

 Grant enjoying his first Bay Area hike.

Grant enjoying his first Bay Area hike.