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San Francisco and Marin Headlands

San Francisco

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October 26th, 1997

6.0 miles
300 vertical feet

Rating: 8/10

Directions:   View Driving Map


Dhananjay, Lucinda, Marie, Mikee, Naoko, Reza, and I went to do several hikes in and around the San Francisco and Marin headlands.

We parked near the Coastal Trail trailhead, on the other side of the bridge from the Toll Plaza parking lot. We then took the Coastal Trail south along the coast. Along the way we passed by one or two batteries -- remnants of World War II defense. There are some really nice views along the way, but Lincoln Blvd., which is adjacent to the trail, detracts from it a bit. We made our way down to Baker Beach where we were presented with some contrasting views. There a short distance away was the Golden Gate Bridge. And there, on the beach in front of us, were several nude men. This, apparently, isn't uncommon on Baker Beach. Carefully avoiding them as much as we could, we headed up a staircase back to the trail. Unfortunately, most of the staircase was covered with sand -- making our ascent painstakingly difficult. If you ever want a good workout, try going uphill in the sand.

The view from Baker Beach. You probably don't want to see the view of what's directly behind Marie, Reza, and Dhananjay.

After returning the way we came, we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Along the way we (Marie, Reza, and I) crossed paths with Lucinda, Mikee, and Naoko, who were going to drive my car over. This was Naoko's great idea so we could all walk the length of the bridge (which is 1.5 miles long). Dhananjay drove his own car over.

It's the wind, I swear -- my hair's not usually like that! That's Fort Point next to my left hand.

When you stand next to one of the huge towers, you can't help but get a sense of vertigo.

At the end of the bridge we all met up again at Vista Point, where busloads of tourists come to take pictures. We continued our hike, walking under the bridge and down to Horseshoe Bay. We were just talking and walking down this paved road and then I looked to my right and the view of the bridge was incredible. Hope the pictures turn out. We continued around Horseshoe Bay and had lunch at Cavallo Point, which provides a great vantage point for watching the sailboats and taking in the views of the bridge, the city, and the bay. After lunch we wandered around Battery Yates before returning to our cars.

Turn the corner...and this is the breathtaking view from the northeast side of the bridge.

I was almost close enough to touch this seagull at Cavallo Point before he flew away.

We drove on Conzelman Road toward Hawk Hill, but couldn't find adequate parking so we continued along, with the plan of returning later. We instead kept going to Point Bonita. It's a very short hike from the parking area to the lighthouse. Along the way we could look down the cliffs to the bay and see seals playing in the water. We could also see what we would later learn is Black Sand Beach -- clothing optional. Marie's prodding of a park ranger at the lighthouse provided us with that information. The lighthouse has been in use since before the 1906 earthquake, and is still being used (albeit with upgraded equipment).

Sailboats on the bay

A full view of the bridge

The Point Bonita lighthouse. The bridge has a maximum load of 5 people or 950 pounds.

After returning to our cars again we made the short drive to Rodeo Beach (at the Fort Cronkhite parking area). We were supposed to start at Fort Barry, but there didn't appear to be parking -- instead, we saw a sign that said "Warning: Sentry Dogs". Maybe that's near the Nike Missile Site we didn't see. In any case, we walked along the beach, passing a dead seal along the way (whose smell we discovered when we walked downwind of it on the way back). Dead seal notwithstanding, it was nice to walk along the beach with the waves pounding on the shore. There were surfers enjoying the waves, as well. We hiked up for more views of the ocean and beach, and also the bridge again. Along the way we passed by Battery Alexander.

After returning to our cars yet again, we made the drive back to Hawk Hill, where we found parking easier this time. We made the very short hike from the parking area to the top of the hill and were met with fantastic views of the bridge and surrounding area. At 920 feet, it's one of the highest points along the Marin headlands. Unfortunately, we didn't see any hawks. We did see measurements of wingspans of various birds, but that was it. And we did see the effects of the setting sun on distant fog.


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