Best historic site trails in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

4,315 Reviews
Explore the most popular historic site trails in Golden Gate National Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of historic site trails in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
Park information
Acreage:
74,820 acres
Park hours
Monday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wednesday
All day
Thursday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Contact
(415) 561-4700
Top trails (11)
#1 - Lands End Trail
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1915)
Length: 3.4 mi • Est. 1 h 22 m
Lands End Trail explores the historic Sutro Baths and offers brilliant view of the Pacific. A must see for any visitor to San Francisco. This is the wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco. A corner strewn with shipwrecks and a history of landslides. At the tip of Lands End is Point Lobos, named by the Spanish for its many lobos marinos (sea wolves), as the barks of those sea lions, as they are called today, drifted up from the rocks below. The sea lions have since relocated to the calmer waters of San Francisco Bay. Trails at Lands End offer a cliff-top walk through dark cypress and open grass and 30-mile views up and down the California coast. The craggy headlands that border the Golden Gate have always challenged developers. The rocky exposed bluffs, often windswept and cloaked in fog, have hampered attempts to tame this corner of San Francisco. Despite the terrain, this section of the Coastal Trail was once a railroad bed, and the adjacent street, El Camino del Mark, once extended through Lands End. The two roads led to the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, and Ocean Beach. Landslides eventually closed both routes.Show more
#2 - Land's End Trail via Sutro Baths and Coastal Trail
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(911)
Length: 0.8 mi • Est. 20 m
According to Access Northern California (http://accessnca.org/access-northern-california/explore/explore-detail-view/?site_id=132): At San Francisco's northernwestern tip, this forested, windswept park is perched on steep bluffs overlooking the Golden Gate and Pacific shoreline. On a clear day, its sweeping views take in the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, Point Reyes, and the Farallon Islands, as well as the rocky shore below. The Coastal Trail here follows what's left of the bed of the old railway that Adolph Sutro built in the 1880s to bring day-trippers from downtown to Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. Rail service ended in 1925 after a landslide destroyed a section of track. Begin your visit at the park's western end, Point Lobos Overlook, where you can orient yourself at the visitor center. The visitor center sits directly above the former Sutro Baths and features a museum store, café, and educational and interpretive exhibits highlighting the natural landscape and cultural history of this site. From a promenade with benches that runs along the western edge of the parking lot, take a moment to look down on the ruins of Sutro Baths. Splashed with surf at high tide, the concrete slabs and stairs are all that remain of a grand glass-enclosed bathhouse, with fresh and saltwater pools, that stood here from 1890 to 1966, when it burned down. The difficulty rating for this trail is based on what the experience may be like for manual wheelchair or stroller users. From the northwestern end of the lot, you can follow the Coastal Trail north around Point Lobos for sweeping views of the Golden Gate. Another short hike leaves from the eastern edge of the Merrie Way parking lot, where a wide gravel path follows El Camino del Mar to the West Fort Miley parking lot and USS San Francisco memorial. A piece of the bridge of the Navy's heavy cruiser has been installed here in memory of those who fought and died on the ship in the World War II battle of Guadalcanal. Accessibility: There are at least 7 designated handicapped-accessible spaces in the Merrie Way lot off Pt. Lobos Ave that are firm and have a 2% cross slope or less. There is a wheelchair-accessible bathroom in the Land's End Visitor Center (which is also wheelchair-accessible). In addition, accessible portable units are at the northeast corner of the parking lot for the USS San Francisco memorial, at the end of El Camino. From the plaza and seating area at its entrance, a broad paved trail winds up through a native plant garden that blooms thickly with wildflowers in the spring, including beach strawberry, paintbrush, lupin, buckwheat, and seaside daisies. As you climb, pause to look back at the ocean, Cliff House, and Seal Rocks through the trees; you may see structures of brush and branches piled in the forest below to provide shelter for birds. You soon come to a juncture with a broad, paved trail; follow it to the left. Monterey cypress and pine trees dominate here. Interpretive signs along the trail tell the area's history. After a short distance, you come to a paved, semicircular overlook with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. When the weather is nice this stretch of trail can be very busy, and many people stop to pose for photos. Access to the remnants of Sutro Baths is along the sidewalk on Point Lobos Ave. and then down a very steep approach with a severe cross slope. Adventurous motorized wheelchair riders have safely navigated this trail but it's advisable to do it with a companion. Across the street from the Point Lobos Overlook, wide and level decomposed-granite paths lead through Sutro Heights, a formally landscaped 18-acre park that was once the grounds of Adolph Sutro's mansion. Continue a short distance to a second overlook, where at low tide you may see remains of the Lyman Stewart and the Frank Buck, two of the many ships that have sunk along this rocky, foggy coast. The orange-and-white striped caisson perched on an offshore rock is the automated Mile Rocks lighthouse. Past this point, the pavement ends and the trail becomes rough and frequently muddy. Adventurous wheelchair riders may want to continue a short distance, but will soon come to a steep section and stairs. Near the California Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum in Lincoln Park, an overlook perched atop Eagles Point offers views of the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, and on a clear day even Point Reyes. The hard-packed, quarter-mile dirt trail that leads from El Camino del Mar to the overlook is part of the Coastal Trail. You can follow it past the overlook a few hundred feet to a spot with better views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but just beyond that you come to a flight of stairs.Show more
#3 - Coastal Trail, Miwok Trail, and Bonita Lighthouse Loop
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(379)
Length: 8.5 mi • Est. 4 h 23 m
No dogs are allowed on the Point Bonita Trail portion leading to the lighthouse. The Point Bonita Lighthouse is only open Sun-Mon 1230p-330p. This trail has gentle inclines and beautiful views of the ocean, San Francisco, and various batteries. The trail surface is nice underfoot and the trail is mostly wide allowing easy passing. Show more
#4 - Muir Beach to Rodeo Beach
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(254)
Length: 11.3 mi • Est. 6 h 53 m
A beautiful trek along the Coastal Trail. Enjoy scenic views of the Marin Headlands and the Pacific Ocean. This incredibly beautiful hike will lead you alongside the bluffs from Muir Beach to Rodeo Beach.Show more
#5 - Point Bonita Lighthouse
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(165)
Length: 1.0 mi • Est. 31 m
This short trail from the parking lot offers spectacular views on the Pacific Cliffs. Point Bonita Lighthouse, located at the South Western tip of the Marin headlands, is an active lighthouse with a rich history. The lighthouse was the 3rd lighthouse on the West Coast and was first built in 1855. The Lighthouse is only open Sundays and Mondays with limited hours. When the gates are open, the Lighthouse is open. Accessibility: The trail is paved and is typically at least three feet wide. Users have reported it is narrow for passing with strollers or wheelchairs in some places. The estimated grade is moderately steep. The steepest section is at about 0.2 miles. Wheelchair, mobility equipment, or stroller users may find the full trail too steep to do without assistance.Show more
#6 - Milagra Overlook Trail
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(236)
Length: 2.8 mi • Est. 1 h 7 m
Take this short paved trail for phenomenal views of the Pacific Ocean. The views make it worthwhile for hikers and walkers of all ages. Feel free to bring your dog or a mountain bike. There are also some old WWII bunkers that can be found close to the trail. Additional parking can be found at the bottom of the trail. Show more
#7 - Golden Gate Gems - Hawk Hill, Kirby Cove, and Battery Spencer
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(40)
Length: 7.3 mi • Est. 3 h 54 m
This hike captures the best of the Golden Gate Bridge Marin side. Kirby Cove is a hidden gem, there is a rope swing hanging from a tree on the beach, you can also camp overnight. It's a must see! Also be aware that when you are heading up to Hawk Hill you want to take the one-way road at the end headed to Point Bonita Light House. The road to Hawk Hill might be temporarily closed due to high traffic. It gets crazy with tourists up there but it is well worth the stunning views. Also, bring layers, the weather can get hot then cold and windy.Show more
#8 - Sweeny Ridge Trail to Fifield Ridge Road
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(143)
Length: 5.9 mi • Est. 2 h 57 m
The trail starts in the parking lot of Skyline College. Lots of up and down in the beginning but it eventually smooths out a bit once you get to the ridge. The inclines can be a challenge and are pretty steep. When you get to the ridge if its sunny you will be rewarded with views of the San Francisco Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. If its not sunny it is still enjoyable and the fog lends quite a bit of solitude to the hike. There is a monument along the way that commemorates the first time the Spanish saw the Bay (Portola Monument). The trail can be a bit muddy in spots and there isn't any shade but its usually pretty breezy up there due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.Show more
#9 - Battery Construction 129 and Hawk Hill
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(79)
Length: 0.7 mi • Est. 21 m
The Marin Headlands is a crown jewel of the Golden Gate National Parks, abounding with places of natural wonder and beauty (Rodeo Lagoon/Valley, Gerbode Valley, Hawk Hill, Tennessee Valley) and remarkable historic sites (Point Bonita Lighthouse, Fort Cronkhite, Nike Missile Site, Battery Townsley). Overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Marin Headlands, and the Pacific Ocean, Hawk Hill is one of the parks' best viewpoints and a prime spot for observing migrating raptors. The first phase of the Hawk Hill/Battery Construction 129 Restoration and Trail Improvement Project was recently completed with the restoration of approximately six acres of coastal scrub and prairie vegetation to create improved habitat for declining bird populations and the endangered Mission blue butterfly and the preservation of the historic resources at Battery Construction 129. To restore this landscape and protect the battery, invasive Monterey pine and cypress trees were removed. Native coastal prairie vegetation was planted in February, 2012. Each fall, Hawk Hill is the primary site for Golden Gate Raptor Observatory hawk-monitoring studies by volunteers and public interpretive programs. The top of Hawk Hill is closed to the public during official counting days during the pandemic.Show more
#10 - Bobcat to Miwok to Coastal to SCA Loop
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(40)
Length: 10.3 mi • Est. 5 h 25 m
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