walking the san francisco coast

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The California Coastal Trail officially stretches from Land’s End to the Golden Gate Bridge, but I added on the walk starting from the Caltrain station on the east side. I walked all the way along the north coast to Baker’s Beach, before returning into town up 25th ave and catching the 38 bus back. The whole 13km walk took me 6-7 hours including plenty of stops for photos!

After exiting the Caltrain station, make your way down King Street, passing the AT&T Baseball Stadium on your right. Cross over to the coastal side closest to the water and wander along the Embarcadero taking in the views of the various Piers, and off in the distance, the Bay Bridge will start to come into sight.

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I highly suggest taking any walks along the piers that jut out into the Bay so as to get the best unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island.

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As you continue your walk along the Embarcadero, you can spot Alcatraz Island just off the northern coast, home to the ex federal penitentiary with an exciting history. Tours leave frequently from various points along the Pier.

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Battle your way through the crowds of tourists at Pier 39, where tourist traps lure in the foreigners to play games, buy food and take part in assorted activities.

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Continue your walk and explore the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf – also a good place to grab a bite to eat before we begin the trek towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Walk to the end of the Wharf near Hyde St. Pier, a beautiful historic dock with excellent Alcatraz views.

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When the road goes no further, turn left up Hyde Street to spot the turn around of a number of San Francisco’s famous cable cars.

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Cut across the grass to get down to the beach where you will likely catch swimmers in full wetsuit garb practicing for the Alcatraz Swim.

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Upon entering the Presidio – San Francisco’s Green Space – you can begin to catch views of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Fort Mason.

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Continue along the coastal path until you reach the marina – also a good place for a restroom break, but be warned you may wait a while to use the single stall!

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As you approach Crissy Field, you will have the chance to explore the windy beaches that offer prime Golden Gate viewing. The walk is very sandy, so I suggest shoes that won’t let the sand in or that you don’t mind getting covered!

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Torpedo Wharf (the one you can see in the distance in the photo above) is a nice, albeit windy, spot to view the Bridge from. Join the hundreds of other tourists and grab a couple photos before continuing on.

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Climb the steps up to meet the Battery Trail at Strauss Plaza for arguably the best view of the Bridge on a clear day.

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Walk under the bridge to catch the Coastal Trail alongside the busy Lincoln Boulevard, offering pristine views over the batteries, beaches and bluffs.

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Take the turn down the sandy path off to the right to reach Baker’s Beach, not a bikini-type beach, but rather a windy and rather wild beach where waves crash along the shoreline and the Golden Gate Bridge stands steadfast in the distance. The rocks at the end of the beach can be climbed for unobstructed views all around.

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I then continued up the trail until 25th Avenue to Geary Boulevard where I hopped on a bus for $2.25 back to the main part of San Fran. Had I started my walk earlier in the day, I would have absolutely continued on to Land’s End and Ocean Beach, and then making my way back to town through the Golden Gate Park. Next time!!

2 comments on “walking the san francisco coast”

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