The Golden Gate Bridge, bathed in warm orange, spans the narrowest point between San Francisco and Marin. It is officially a “thing” to visit the bridge, take photos of the bridge, and just sit back and admire it. Maybe it is the inimitable color, sleek Art Deco style, or the chance to walk across it. In any case, it is a classic San Francisco experience. Here are six hikes to experience the bridge in all its glory.
Lands End Coastal Trail
Lands End Coastal Trail, located on the northwestern edge of San Francisco, is a family-friendly stroll along the Golden Gate to multiple scenic overlooks. Its gentleness, Golden Gate Bridge views, and crashing coastline make it an excellent choice for out-of-town guests or first-timers visiting the San Francisco. Take a short walk down to Cliff House afterwards for brunch with a view.
Batteries to Bluffs Trail
Batteries to Bluffs Trail, located southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a moderate hike down to rugged bluffs and historic batteries. Marshall’s Beach, a hidden (and sometimes nudist) beach, is reachable from the trail with sandy views of the bridge’s towers and piers.
Presidio Loop is a one-of-a-kind urban hike that begins in the heart of The Presidio and traces its military history through shady forests and seaside bluffs. After exploring the Main Post, the route curves northwest along coastal batteries, and passes directly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge exhibits and Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the Main Parade Ground, or pick up a coffee at TRANSIT next to the Presidio Visitor Center.
East Beach to Fort Point
East Beach to Fort Point is a family-friendly hike beginning at East Beach on San Francisco’s northern shoreline. After a quick spin around the Palace of Fine Arts, the hike heads west on the Crissy Field Promenade. The Golden Gate Bridge’s full span is visible all the way to Fort Point, where you can take stairs to its roof and stand beneath the curved arch designed specifically to preserve the fort. The combination of history, beach access, and waterfront views make this one of the finest urban hikes in San Francisco.
Angel Island State Park
Christened Isla de Los Angeles by Spanish explorer Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala, Angel Island State Park is a fantastic day trip from San Francisco or Tiburon. The island’s 13 miles of hiking trails are reachable by ferry and first-come, first-serve boat slips. You can walk the entire perimeter of the island on the 5.5-mile perimeter trail, and hike to Mount Livermore’s 788-foot summit for spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay.
Alcatraz Island, located 1.5 miles north of San Francisco, is an iconic sightseeing stop immortalized in movies like The Rock and Escape from Alcatraz. At Alcatraz you can listen to inmates’ stories on the Cellhouse Audio Tour, walk the short Agave Trail, and visit the former penitentiary that held high-risk inmates from 1934-1963. Alcatraz Cruises run 15-minute ferry rides from Pier 33, and ferry tickets can sell out weeks in advance, especially in summer: it is a good idea to book early!
To learn more about the Golden Gate Bridge and walking across it’s 1.7-mile span, visit goldengatebridge.org.
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Tags: Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Coastal Trail, Golden Gate, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, san francisco, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco Bay Area, The Presidio