Golden Gate WalksBay Area Mass Transit | Riding Your Bicycle | Presidio Parkway Construction | Parking
The Golden Gate Bridge is set in an area of unsurpassed natural beauty: the bay and delta complex is the largest body of water on the west coast, with sand dunes, marshes and native plants providing habitat for many of nature's creatures.
Parts of this region have been preserved in their natural state, while other parts were dramatically altered for military purposes and are now being restored.
On this website we describe nine walks with a common theme: each offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the surrounding area. Everywhere these walks take you is rich in history. Native people were here for thousands of years before control passed to Spain, then Mexico and finally the United States, which put much of the Golden Gate under military control and fortified it against foreign invasion. Although the military is gone, you will see examples of its legacy in the many batteries and gun emplacements you'll encounter, as well as the Nike Missile Site on the Headlands walk. None of these munitions were ever fired against adversaries.
Most of the adventures are literally "walks;" i.e., you can - and usually should - complete the entire trip on foot in order to experience it as it is described. Some (e.g., the Land's End Loop) can only be accomplished on foot, although portions can be visited by car. One, the Headlands tour, does require a car - or if you're in shape, a bicycle - because of the distance covered and the fact that the area is poorly served by public transport. For simplicity, they are all called "walks" on this website.
The "must-do" tourist trip is, of course, the Walk Across the Bridge. From there you can explore both the San Francisco and Marin sides of the bridge. There are two walks on the wilder west side of the Golden Gate in San Francisco: The Beach Trail and father on, Lands End Loop. On the east side try Crissy Field Loop and Fort Mason to Aquatic Park. You're never far from The Presidio, so go exploring there when you're done. On the Marin side, don't miss The Headlands and the Fort Baker & the Bay Model areas. For a day on the Bay, go to Angel Island.
At the end of each walk, you will find a "link to" section showing how you can link from one walk to others, as well as an "in the area" section describing other attractions in the general area. For each walk you will also find a map link of the starting point, to help you get oriented.
Bay Area Mass Transit
A car can be a burden in San Francisco. Those who live here and have "parking karma" are blessed. Instead of driving your car in from the Bay Area or automatically renting one at the airport, why not try mass transit or ride a bike? You can always rent a car for a day, or several, when you need one. The Headlands is the only trip not well served by mass transit.
The following mass transit systems have routes in the area of the bridge. The 511 Service helps to provide comprehensive information about all the systems in the area. Clipper allows you to purchase one ticket that can be used for travel on most mass transit systems.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway, locally known as Muni, serves all of San Francisco. On weekends and some holidays it also runs a bus to the Marin Headlands.
Golden Gate Transit is run by the Bridge District. It provides bus service to Marin and Sonoma Counties from San Francisco, as well as ferries between Larkspur and Sausalito in Marin County, and the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco.
The PresidiGo shuttle operated by the Park Service provides service on the Presidio as well as a downtown express during weekday commute hours.
Blue and Gold Fleet provides ferry service from Pier 41 in San Francisco to Tiburon, Sausalito and Angel Island, and from the Ferry Building to Tiburon. They also run a bay tour that goes under the Bridge.
Angel Island Ferry provides service to Angel Island from Tiburon, and also operates several bay tours.
Red and White Fleet operates a number of cruises and bay tours, but does not provide ferry service per se.
Marin Transit provides service in Marin and, from May to October on weekends and holidays, to Muir Woods.
BART provides service from San Francisco to the East Bay, as well as service to both the Oakland and San Francisco Airports. It does not provide service to any of the areas mentioned in this web site. (Return to top)
Riding your Bicycle
A bicycle is a good option for many of the walks, but on some (e.g., the Land's End Loop) you can't traverse the entire route on two wheels unless you're prepared to hoist your bike over your shoulder and hike some steep staircases. Check the description of each walk for information about bicycle access. If you are interested in renting a bicycle, Parkwide is the official bike rental company for parks in San Francisco. They have a stand in front of Fort Mason. San Francisco Bike Rentals has a stand at the Cannery at Fisherman's Wharf. Blazing Saddles has several locations in the Fisherman's wharf area. In Sausalito try Stoked SF (they rent kayaks also) or Sausalito Bike Rentals. Other bicycle shops around the City also rent bicycles; check in your neighborhood for options. (Return to top)
Presidio Parkway Construction
Highway 101 is the major north-south route crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. The portion south of the bridge, formerly known as Doyle Drive, was an old and narrow roadway that did not provide easy access to the Presidio. As part of the conversion of the area to a National Park, it is being replaced with the Presidio Parkway. The new road is open with one tunnel completed, and the old roadway is in the process of being removed. When construction is complete, there will be an additional tunnel and improved access between Crissy Field and the main portion of the Presidio. In the meantime, expect to see work in progress at various points as you take the walks. (Return to top)
Parking tickets in San Francisco are expensive and best avoided. Never park in a driveway, because cars are quickly towed at the resident's request. In unmetered areas look for street sweeping signs and check signs to see if resident permits are used in the area - if they are, nonresidents are generally restricted to a 2 or 3 hour limit. In some places, e.g., the Embarcadero, parking meters accept credit cards, but the majority of meters around the City do not. However, many meters do accept paybyphone, available for IOS, Android and Blackberry devices. For a small convenience fee you can pay with your smartphone and the service will text you when time is almost expired, allowing you to add time where permitted. Look for the paybyphone signage on parking meters that accept the service - it can be a lifesaver if you're caught without pocket change. Visit paybyphone on the web or your applicable app store to get the app.
Parking in the Presidio used to be free in most places, but recently pay parking has proliferated, to the point where it can be difficult to find free parking. Fortunately, parking rates are very reasonable, especially by San Francisco standards. Pay parking typically requires you to visit a pay station and leave the receipt on your dashboard. Note that pay parking is regulated by zones; to be valid, the ticket on your dash has to match the zone where you're parked. You can move around within zones as long as there's time left on your ticket, but you can't change zones without paying again. For details, visit the Presidio Trust's parking page.
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