Exploring Lands End
Author: Jojo Varona
One of the many things I love about living in San Francisco is the many wonderful hiking/walking trails that are all over the city. Since getting rid of my car many years ago, I have been doing my urban walks and exploring different areas of San Francisco. As a native San Franciscan, one of my favorite hiking trails is the Lands End Trail.
At the northwestern corner of San Francisco, the Lands End Trail explores the historic Sutro Baths and offers brilliant views of the Pacific Ocean. 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 trails wind their way around rocky cliffs above the ocean, moving through shady stands of cypress and eucalyptus, offering 30-mile views up and down the California coast and emerging on to fantastic views of the shore, headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite the terrain, this section of the Coastal Trail was once a railroad bed, and the adjacent street, El Camino del Mar, once extended through Lands End. The two roads led to the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, and Ocean Beach.
The hike itself is a moderate hike and it is a great walk for people of all ages. I have seen older people, children, families, people walking their dogs, runners and joggers on this trail. If you are looking for a hike that is more challenging, this hike may not be the right one for you. Although the hike is pretty easy, there are a lot of stairs on the trail, so if you have bad knees or hips, this trail may also not be the best for you.
I have been on this trail throughout the years and it can get crowded at times. I recently went there a couple of weeks ago and there were people there, but it didn’t feel crowded. Most everyone had on a mask and were respectful of people’s spaces.
300 – 500 feet of elevation if you take the offshoots
Location: 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
The trail is accessed from the parking lot at the end of Geary Avenue. There are two main parking lots here, one near the Sutro Baths and another by the memorial. If you are looking to make the full trail and see the baths, then choose the former, and if you are just looking for a great viewpoint of the bridge and have limited time, choose the latter. Note that these parking lots can get busy on the weekends.
Tips & Highlights
Contact for more information: Lands End Lookout (415) 426-5240
When hiking in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, stay on trails and keep your distance from cliffs.
Walk north along the edge of the city-and the continent-on the Coastal Trail.
Scan San Francisco from the Legion of Honor overlook and return via the El Camino Del Mar Trail.
Check out the memorial to the USS San Francisco-a WWII cruiser that sustained 45 hits and 25 fires during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942-and the newly improved adjacent overlook.
The West Fort Miley batteries offer a grassy picnic area among three turn-of-the-century gun emplacements.