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Land's End

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...
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 (first by steam train, later by electric trolley) ended in 1925 after a landslide—a common phenomenon along this rugged coastline—destroyed a section of track.

Begin your visit at the park's western end, Point Lobos Overlook, where you can orient yourself at the new visitor center. This area is also known as Merrie Way, from an old amusement park of the same name that opened here in 1895 and featured attractions from the 1894 Midwinter Exhibition in Golden Gate Park. 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.

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.

At the park's eastern end, near the Legion of Honor museum and Lincoln Park golf course, you can take a short hike to Eagles Point Overlook (see "Other Things of Interest," below).

Trail/Pathway Details

Land's End Coastal Trail

Trailhead: Northwestern end of the Merrie Way parking lot

Length: Under one mile total

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Gentle

Terrain: Hard

Description

From the plaza and seating area at its entrance, the 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...
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Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Several accessible spaces are in the Merrie Way lot off Pt. Lobos Ave., some are east of the Merrie Way lot, at the intersection of El Camino del Mar and Seal Rock Dr., and in the Fort Miley/USS San Francisco lot. Limited on-street parking only (no designated accessible spaces) at Eagles Point. At Land's End Lookout Visitor Center. Portable units are at the Merrie Way parking lot and at the northeast corner of the parking lot for the USS San Francisco memorial, at the end of El Camino.

Other Things of Interest

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. It is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. From a viewing area below a stone parapet you can look down the full length of Ocean Beach. One of the city's major surfing spots is below you. Interpretive panels will help you imagine the place as it was in Sutro's day.

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.

The ruins of Sutro Baths
The ruins of Sutro Baths (Eileen Ecklund)

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Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.nps.gov/goga
Managing Agency: Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Address: 680 Point Lobos Ave. (the parking lot here is also referred to as Merrie Way)
Nearest City: San Francissco
Phone: (415) 561-4323
Hours: Always open. Visitor center: Daily, 9 am-5 pm.
Fees: None
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: Muni
Useful Links: Parks Conservancy
Reviewed by Eileen Ecklund, June 27, 2012
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

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