Monday, June 9, 2008

Land's End - Coastal Trail

“The writer loves the fog as it pours in; he loves the sun when the fog pours out. The rest of California is Beach Boys country, but San Francisco has that moody thing going on, those blues notes wrapped in moisture, an atmosphere that tempers California dreaming and makes life more real. But he loves the sun, too, that Frisbee-tossing, forehead-baking golden sun that prevents the loss of eight months of the year to winter. The fog brings reality, but it is still a California reality, one spent outdoors the whole year round.”

-Eric Maisel

Locale: Land's End-Coastal Trail, San Francisco, CA

Date: Sunday, June 8, 2008

Duration: 3.5 miles (2.5 hours)

Price: Free

Activity: Easy

All in All: A great walk through Sutro ruins, beaches, and Sea Cliff

Rating: ****

If you have a few hours to kill and are in the city, you might want to trek down to this easy brief hike in between China and Ocean Beaches. Follow Geary straight towards the water and park along the street down by the Cliff House. Currently the big parking lot at Merrie Way is under construction and you can't park here but there's plenty of parking across the street. Start by walking along the Sutro Bath ruins. As many locals know, this once housed a large pool house surrounded by the Pacific, theaters and artifacts. It was built by millionaire mayor Adolph Sutro in the late 1800's. It was later destroyed by the big earthquake and fires. Now all that's left is the foundation of some of it and muddy water but look at the picture of what it once was (found at Louis' Restaurant) and you can imagine why thousands flocked to it everyday. After exploring the ruins climb back up to the sidewalk and up to the intersection at the top of the hill and you'll find coastal trail on the left. It starts on a paved double path. Up ahead you'll see the Golden Gate and you'll hear the sounds of an old lighthouse.

Most likely you'll be accompanied by runners, bicyclists, tourists and dog walkers. The trail eventually becomes dirt and you will climb stairs. At the end of Coastal Trail, continue along the sidewalk on El Camino Del Mar. You are now in wealthy country and you won't be mistaken by this once you see the mansions and beautiful multimillion dollar houses that make up the Sea Cliff neighborhood home to many of the rich and/or famous such as Robin Williams. Continue straight until you see a road going down on your left to China Beach. Enjoy a nice picnic or wade through the cold waters of the ocean while taking in some rays and enjoying the great views of the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands beyond it.

Walking back to your car - just follow the same way that you arrived along Coastal Trail. If you long down at the cliffs below you may see some remnants from shipwrecks. These spots are pointed out on a large map post at the end of the trail.

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