Looking for a special outing during July? This walk will take you to some of the Bay Area's most interesting historical sites, over the world's most famous bridge, through a former military base, and the list goes on. Enjoy a good walk, great views, a ferry boat ride, food and drink as you please, and all the sights and sounds of San Francisco.
From the Peninsula, we often use CalTrain to get to the City, then walk along the Embarcadero, through Fisherman's Wharf, across Crissy Field, over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito, and return by ferry. You can reduce the mileage by driving to Crissy Field and taking the loop from that point.
From Crissy Field, walk west along the Bay Trail. This is a world-class wind-surfing area with nice sandy beaches. In the 1920s Crissy Field was an airfield for the Army and was the West Coast base for the first daylight transcontinental flight.
At the end of the Promenade, under the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge, is Fort Point. You will want to spend some time here or come back later. Wide brick arches, spiral stairs, and views of the Golden Gate, plus the tools of war--mid 1800s style--make this a fascinating place for photographers and historians.
The trail to the bridge is opposite the U.S. Park Service administrative office for Fort Point. A sign points to the bridge and to Fort Point, and a stairway leads up to a series of paths and to the bridge. The uphill slope along the stairway features beautiful, wild nasturtiums in brilliant color from yellow to deep orange. Along the path to the bridge overlooking the Bay is Battery East, a three-quarter mile of earth berm with masonry enforcement built to guard the Bay in 1870.
The 1.2-mile walk on the Golden Gate Bridge can be a bone-chilling experience or a warm stroll in the afternoon sun. We've had it both ways, but it's always interesting. The tourists, views, rumbling traffic, and the fog-shrouded towers produce an atmosphere like none other. We've watched hundreds of fishing boats and windsurfers near the south tower, waved good-bye to our son leaving on a Coast Guard cutter from the center span, and never fail to enjoy the views in any weather. Don't try to predict the bridge: it's a place to experience moment by moment.
Beyond the north tower parking lot is the Bay Trail down to East Fort Baker. We doubled under the north anchorage of the bridge, which resembles a giant erector set. The trail soon levels out at water's edge and skirts the southern edge of this old Army post. This part of the walk is filled with splendid views, but some of the best are from the water's edge in front of the Coast Guard Station Golden Gate.
Continue on the road next to the small boat dock area between two small buildings to a sign that reads "Presidio Yacht Club." Turn left and continue a short distance to the San Francisco Bay Children's Discovery Center. At the entrance, turn right up a gravel road, and follow this path up a stairway to East Road. Continue on East Road--with great views of Angel Island and Tiberon), and walk into Sausalito via Alexander Street, Second Street, and Bridgeway. Once in Sausalito, check the ferry departure times for the Red and White Ferry to Pier 43 1/2 [Note: As of July 2000, there is no Red and White Ferry service to San Francisco from Sausalito. The Blue and Gold Fleet offers ferry service between Sausalito and Pier 41 in San Francisco. --Ed.]. The Golden Gate Ferry also serves Sausalito, but it docks at the Ferry Building. As time permits, enjoy the Sausalito scene of food, drink, shopping, or just people-watching.
If you drove in and parked at Crissy Field or Fisherman's Wharf, return on the Red and White Ferry to Pier 43 1/2. If you took the train, return on either ferry, but we suggest the Golden Gate Ferry, which docks at the Ferry Building if you don't intend to spend more time in the City. This will cut a mile or so from your walk back to the train.
Of all our city walks, we enjoy this one the most. So much to see and so much to do.
Directions: By car: Park at Crissy Field or anywhere in the Fisherman's Wharf area. From the Peninsula, take Highway 280 to 19th Avenue. Continue on 19th through Golden Gate Park, through the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Tunnel, and exit the next right turn. Stay in the right lane and follow signs to Crissy Field parking. By train: Board CalTrain anywhere along the Peninsula. At the end of the line, continue along King Street two blocks to the Embarcadero.
Grade: Easy to moderate.
Distance: By car, nine miles; by train, 14 miles.
Time: Plan to spend a full day. Five hours minimum, depending on the ferry schedule.
Special Conditions: Be ready for cool, foggy, windy weather near the bay and on the bridge.
Maps:Any detailed map of San Francisco ; NPS San Francisco Presidio, Fort Mason, Marin Headlands; NUSGS 7.5'quad San Francisco North.
This hike originally appeared in Tom Davids' "Weekly Walker" column, which is carried by seven SF Peninsula newspapers published by the Independent Newspaper Group. Reprinted by permission. Many of Tom's hikes can be found on hisWeekly Walker website.
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