I never tire of looking at the Golden Gate Bridge. Growing up we could see it from our home in the Berkeley Hills. When I lived in San Francisco, my two favorite running routes took me out & back to Fort Point at the base of the bridge or across the bridge to Vista Point and back. Now we live south of San Francisco and I still find myself yearning for those views. I’ve found the best way to enjoy them is on one of the many hiking trails throughout San Francisco and the Marin Headlands – amazing views and a great workout! We’ve hiked countless miles over many years – here are our favorite hikes with the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge!
Lands End Trail
The Lands End trail is along the western edge of San Francisco and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area. I love it because it’s easy to get to from the peninsula, parking is free and easy, the trail is dog friendly, and the Golden Gate Bridge views are fantastic. The main trail is mostly flat with some stairs, but there are also trail offshoots to Mile Rock Beach, a rock labyrinth, and the Sutro Baths at the trailhead.
Lands End Details
- 3.5 miles roundtrip
- Difficulty: moderate (there are a lot of stairs)
- Dogs OK on leash
- Kid friendly, but not stroller friendly
- Free Parking
- Location: 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
Read my full post on Lands End trail.
Batteries to Bluffs Trail
Just south of the Golden Gate Bridge are many amazing Presidio hikes, but our favorite is the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. Our favorite way to hike this trail is to park at Baker Beach and take the Presidio Coastal Trail with the Batteries to Bluffs option all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge overlook and back. This route is 3.5 miles roundtrip while the Batteries to Bluffs section is only 1.2 miles. The Batteries to Bluffs trail includes 470 stairs and an offshoot trail to Marshall’s Beach which at low tide is another great vantage point of the Golden Gate Bridge. The trail gets its name from the coastal bluffs as well as the 6 batteries it traverses. My kids enjoyed exploring the batteries as we encountered them, climbing all the stairs and looking for hidden entrances in the hillside.
Batteries to Bluffs Details
- 3.5 miles roundtrip
- Difficulty: moderate
- 450 feet elevation gain including 470 stairs
- Kid-friendly (I’d recommend a minimum of 5 years because of all the stairs)
- No dogs on the Batteries to Bluff portion but allowed on other trails
- Free Parking at Baker Beach
Read my full post on Batteries to Bluffs trail.
Crissy Field to Fort Point
I’ve lost count of how many miles I’ve put in along the path from East Beach along Crissy Field to Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge – so many training runs, walks, and San Francisco races. I’ve always found there to be an amazing energy along this stretch from Crissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge – runners, walkers, dogs & kids on the beach, kite surfers, fishermen, surfers, bikers, and more! There is parking at East Beach, but there are so many places to begin this walk – from Aquatic Park, Fort Mason, The Palace of Fine Arts, and the Marina to name a few. On our leisurely walks, we like to stop at the Warming Hut for coffee or hot chocolate, and sometimes we just find a spot to sit along the water and admire the views.
Crissy Field to Fort Point Details
- 4.5 miles roundtrip (from East Beach)
- Difficulty: easy
- 100′ elevation gain
- Kid friendly (great for bikes & strollers)
- Dog Friendly
- Free Parking at East Beach
The Golden Gate views from the Marin Headlands are just fantastic! A great hike with a huge lookout point is Slacker Hill via the SCA Trail. For this hike, go early and park at the lot at the northwest base of the bridge.
Begin on the Coastal Trail and after a quarter of a mile, the trail crosses Conzelman Road and from that point, there are fabulous views. First, the trail overlooks Fort Baker, Cavallo Point and the Bay Area Discovery Museum – and out towards Angel Island and Belvedere with the Golden Gate Bridge to the south. Then the trail shifts west with views out towards the Pacific and down the San Mateo coastline. Finally, it rounds back towards the bridge and reaches a plateau at the top of Slacker Hill. There is a great spot to sit on the hillside overlooking the bridge, which looks enormous from this vantage point, and San Francisco a little further in the distance. Hiking time is approximately 90 minutes, but plan for longer because you’ll want to stay and admire the views for a while!
SCA Trail to Slacker Hill Details
- Distance: 3.3 miles roundtrip
- Elevation: 810’ gain
- Our rating: Easy
- Dog Friendly: No
- Parking: Near Golden Gate Bridge, but lot fills up quickly on weekends and nice days!
- Restrooms: Port-a-potties in parking lot, but they were locked when we were there!
Hawk Hill is just west of Slacker Hill in the Marin Headlands. The great thing about this area is that the hiking trails are all interconnected and it’s easy to begin from many different points and customize a path that works for any desired hiking level or time constraint. While there is a parking lot at the base of Hawk Hill, I like to work for my views and chose to hike from the small parking lot near Black Sands Beach. From there, we hiked up the Coastal Trail (which follows Conzelman Road) for approximately half a mile until the trail crosses Conzelman Road and heads up the hill via an impressive staircase towards Hawk Hill and Battery Construction 129. We used this route as a guide, but only followed it to Hawk Hill and then turned around.
Hawk Hill is expansive and there is a lot of space to explore with many different vantage points of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. The views extend down the San Mateo coastline and even out towards Point Bonita and Rodeo Beach. And yes, we saw a lot of hawks too!
Hawk Hill via Coastal Trail from Black Sands Beach
- Distance: 2.2 miles roundtrip
- Elevation: 587’ gain
- Our rating: Moderate
- Dog Friendly: No
- Parking: In lot on Conzelman Road near Black Sands Beach
- Restrooms: Yes
So which of these hikes has the BEST Golden Gate Bridge view? Honestly, my answer changes depending on the day.
Did I miss one of your favorite hikes?? Let me know in the comments so I can go check it out!