- 3.5 miles
- 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
Presidio Coastal Trail with Batteries to Bluffs option
We parked at Baker Beach and took the Presidio Coastal Trail with the Batteries to Bluffs option all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge overlook and back. This is part of the California Coastal Trail that will one day cover 1200 miles of coastal trails. This segment is 3.5 miles roundtrip though the Batteries to Bluffs portion of the hike which goes down towards the water & Marshall Beach via many stairs is only 1.2 miles. This section was completed in 2007 and some of the materials used in construction were delivered by helicopter to protect the sensitive habitat. It also won a well-deserved beautification award in 2008. If you’re short on time, this section of the hike packs a big punch, but I’d recommend going all the way to the bridge like we did.
Just past the Sand Ladder, the Batteries to Bluffs trail veers left towards the coast. The trail crosses right on top of Battery Crosby.
At the end of the Battery, you’ll see a trail marker and then descend down 150 stairs.
The trail is really easy to follow and the views are stunning.
Views across the channel to the Marin Headlands.
Just follow the signs to the Golden Gate Bridge – it’s in view nearly the entire time so you know you’re on the right track. The path leads under the bridge and you can hear all the cars driving above.
Golden Gate Bridge Overlook
We stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge overlook and admired Goldie. From here, you can walk down to Fort Point (seen here just below the bridge) or follow the path along Crissy Field. On cold days we like to stop at The Warming Hut for coffee or hot chocolate!
The outside structure of the batteries are all accessible. We climbed to the top of a few to take in the views. The kids liked jumping from ledge to ledge and exploring the many staircases. The first forts were constructed in the 1860s and 70s on either side of the Golden Gate straight (Fort Point in San Francisco and Fort Lime in Marin). Beginning in the 1890s more forts were completed to help protect the seaport – they were armed with guns that could fire at a range of 7-10 miles. The guns from Battery Boutelle were removed in 1917 for use in WWI. Battery Crosby remained in operation until 1943. We passed by 5 Batteries on our hike, but there are many more along the coastline.
The trail marker to Marshall Beach. We didn’t go there this time – the kids vetoed that idea – I should have suggested it on our way out when the kids had more energy and not on the way back! If you do want to go, be sure to check the tides as there is not much beach at high tide!
Baker Beach & Sea Cliff
Baker Beach is off in the distance and is another great pit stop. It’s dog friendly too. We also like admiring all the homes along the bluff in Sea Cliff!
Extend the Hike!
This hike is just north of Lands End, another one of our favorites! Hiking all the way from Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge is a great option for a longer hike ~8 miles. Or you can hike Lands End separately. My post on hiking Lands End is here.