This 3.4-mile out-and back in San Francisco cruises a short stretch of the California Coastal Trail and traces some of the city's most rugged shoreline. Though it skirts some famous city attractions—Eagle's Point, The Cliff House, and The Palace of the Legion of Honor—you'll see more runners and bird enthusiasts than tourists on this moderate hike.
From the trailhead in the city's Outer Richmond neighborhood, the wide gravel path rolls west. Stop at the overlook for an unusual view of the Golden Gate Bridge before ducking between foggy cypress groves and tracing the rocky coastline. Though there are some user-created trails toward the water, stay off unmarked trails to help prevent erosion and to avoid a dangerous fall. The route follows the coast past the USS San Francisco Memorial at Fort Miley before dropping nearly 200 feet toward the remains of the Sutro Baths. Plan to spend some time exploring the rock walls and the rocky headlands before backtracking uphill and toward the trailhead.
Despite the proximity to the city, this trail has a wilderness feel; you'll likely see and hear lots of birds and marine mammals along with crashing waves and fog horns. It's also a relatively easy hike, with just two notable hills: a 100+ stair step climb and the return climb from the baths.
-Mapped by Dave Miller
- Distance: 5.4
Location: 37.786432, -122.493999
Park along El Camino Del Mar and pick up the trail at the well-marked Land's End trailhead just west of 32nd Avenue. The trail follows the San Francisco Bay inlet's southern coastline and views of the Golden Gate bridge are a highlight on clear days. The dirt and gravel trail starts out fairly level and gently winds under the canopy of cypress and eucalyptus trees.
Location: 37.786682, -122.494675
Eagle's Point is a tourist destination, so expect an occasional crowd (or wedding party) taking in the five-star views of the Golden Gate. Resist the temptation to dip north on the rocky user-created trails, the cliffs themselves aren't well-suited for hiking.
Location: 37.787326, -122.500569
The trail climbs a series of wooden steps and heads briefly away from the cliff edges. Toward the top of the climb, you may catch a glimpse of the golf course that helps to buffer the trail's south side from the nearby city.
Location: 37.787096, -122.501015
Turn right at this 3-way junction and stay on the main trail as it continues up a few more wooden steps. The 120-plus-step descent isn't far away. On foggy days, you'll hear a serenade of fog horns guiding boats into the bay.
Location: 37.786422, -122.505216
Turn left to follow this route toward the USS San Francisco Memorial and the Sutro Baths. The trail turns a bit inland but still offers glimpses of the rocky coast. If you have the time and/or stamina, consider turning right for a half-mile lollipop loop to Mile Rock Beach and the Land's End Lookout.
Location: 37.785976, -122.505119
Stay right on the main trail at this 3-way junction. The spur leads left to the Palace of Legion of Honor, one of San Francisco's premiere art museums. Small trees and shrubs line both sides of the trail and there is a lot of avian activity in this area.
Location: 37.784906, -122.505525
Stay right to bypass the El Camino Del Mar Trail at this 3-way junction. The wide trail is still a mix of gravel and dirt; the cypress-shaded area smells of anise.
Location: 37.783356, -122.511368
The trail turns to asphalt as it nears the USS San Francisco Memorial and Fort Miley. Stop at the overlook for views of the rugged coastline and several notable shipwrecks. Stay on the main trail, rounding the point below the parking area (restroom available here).
Location: 37.78229, -122.511624
Bear right at this 3-way junction, following signs toward the Sutro Baths, the crumbling remains of an 1869 public swimming complex. The trail switchbacks through majestic cypress trees heading downhill.
Location: 37.781671, -122.512198
Turn right onto the well-marked Sutro Baths Upper Trail. Breathe in the salty smell of the sea as you descend a set of wooden steps.
Location: 37.781054, -122.514183
This large concrete landing above the baths provides close-up views of the rocky coastline. You'll likely see and hear seagulls and sea lions who make homes on the misty shores nearby. On the left side of the platform, pick up the trail that winds down to the weather-beaten remains of what was once the world's largest indoor swimming facility.
Location: 37.780727, -122.514267
Plan to spend some time exploring the ruins of the Sutro Baths. There's a deep cave to the north and dozens of crumbling rocky walls. When you're ready, turn back and retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Lands End Trailhead
Location: 37.786397, -122.493912
Follow the Coastal Trail from this trailhead off of El Camino Del Mar.
Golden Gate Bridge
Location: 37.78678, -122.494627
A foggy Golden Gate Bridge view from Eagle's Point.
Location: 37.786648, -122.495123
Much of this rugged coastline is shaded by tall, majestic cypress trees.
Location: 37.786581, -122.49662
The California Coastal Trail will extend more than 1,200 miles along the state's shoreline. This urban trail is one of its many finished stretches.
Location: 37.786926, -122.497854
They're not all tall and majestic, some of the trailside cypress are impressive for other reasons.
Location: 37.787318, -122.50053
Climbing away from the cliffs, this series of wooden steps is less than half a mile from the trailhead.
Location: 37.787348, -122.50177
Location: 37.781756, -122.511785
Look through the well-spaced trunks of the trees for views of the water.
Location: 37.781086, -122.513733
The steep trail to the Sutro Baths.
Location: 37.781178, -122.514282
View of Sutro Baths
Location: 37.780851, -122.514011
This facility was built in the late 1890's by a former San Francisco mayor, Adolph Sutro.
Location: 37.780769, -122.514156
Peering into a cave that runs under the landing above.
Location: 37.78062, -122.514093
Location: 37.780632, -122.51403