Home > Hike, Muni, San Francisco > Western San Francisco Hike: Presidio, Lands End, and Sutro Baths

Western San Francisco Hike: Presidio, Lands End, and Sutro Baths

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Starting at the N Muni Metro stop in Cole Valley, this route takes you north to the Presidio via stairways, through the Presidio on the Presidio Promenade path, along the Coastal Trail to Lands End, and on through the Sutro Baths to end at the N-Judah’s final stop at Ocean Beach. You will have a chance to walk on the nicely constructed stairs of the Batteries to Bluffs Trail and will pass many of San Francisco’s beaches on this journey.

Places visited: Presidio, Lands End, Sutro Baths, San Francisco stairways
Approximate length:
11 miles
Hiking time:
5-6 hours
Map:
Presidio (PDF), Lands End and Sutro Baths (PDF)
Terrain:
Mix of flat stretches and moderate hills, with a few steep stairway sections.
Transit schedule:
Muni Metro N Judah
Start point: N Judah stop at Carl and Cole
End point: N Judah stop at Judah and La Playa

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take the Muni Metro N Judah to the Carl and Cole stop.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, taking a train to San Francisco. At the Civic Center BART/Muni station, transfer to Muni, taking Muni Metro N Judah to the Carl and Cole stop.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to Embarcadero station. Transfer to Muni Metro inside the station, and take the N Judah (Outbound) to Carl and Cole.
    From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Hyde and Grove streets (just before Market Street), and walk to the Civic Center BART/Muni station on Market Street. Enter the Muni Metro station, and take the N Judah (Outbound) to Carl and Cole.

Notes:

  • This route offers many chances to pick up lunch or a snack: the Carl and Cole area at the start of the walk, Haight Street (one block north of Waller), Geary Street, and near the N Judah line at the end of the route. This is a nice route to pack a lunch for a stop in the Presidio or along the beach areas of the Coastal Trail.
  • I provide a suggested route through Lands End and Sutro Baths, but both of these areas  have additional trails and areas to explore. They are contained enough that you can wander a bit and easily get back to the main route. Be extremely careful in the Sutro Baths area along the crumbling walls and always keep your eye on the water for changing surf conditions. You will also pass Baker Beach and China Beach on this route, where you may wish to stop for awhile (an extended stop at the beach is not included in the time estimate).
  • As of this writing (January 2010), construction has begun on the Doyle Drive replacement in the Presidio. Because this route goes near the construction area, it is possible that you could encounter a detour from 2010 to early 2013; print the current map to bring with you, and check the project website for any updates.

Directions:

  • From the N stop at Carl and Cole, turn right and walk north on Cole Street.
  • Cross Frederick and Beulah streets.
  • Turn left at the next block, Waller Street.
  • In two blocks, when Waller ends, turn right at Stanyan Street.
  • Walk north on Stanyan past Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle.
  • Pass the Koret fitness center on your right.
  • Cross Turk Street.
  • Turn right at the Lone Mountain sign and head up the stairs.
  • Cross the next street (Beaumont) and continue up the stairs.
  • Turn left when the stairs end, at Parker Street.
  • Cross Anza Street.
  • At Geary, cross the street and turn right.
  • In three blocks, turn left at Blake.
  • At the end of Blake, head up the stairs to the Laurel Hill playground.
  • Veer right and then left to go around the basketball courts.
  • Head straight and up the ramp out to the street.
  • Turn right at the street, Euclid Ave.
  • Continue on Euclid past Manzanita Ave., Collins Street, and Laurel Street.
  • Veer left at Masonic Ave.
  • Veer left onto Presidio Ave.
  • Cross California, Sacramento, and Clay streets.
  • Turn right at the next block, Washington.
  • Turn left at the next block, Lyon.
  • Continue north on Lyon Street. When you reach the border of the Presidio, Lyon Street becomes a stairway. Head down the flights of stairs, stopping for views along the way if you like.
  • Continue straight on Lyon when the stairs end.
  • At Lombard, turn left to enter the Presidio at the Lombard Gate.
  • Head towards the kiosk and then look for the Presidio Promenade sign.
  • Start following the signs for the Presidio Promenade, which take you on a path paralleling Letterman Drive and Lincoln Blvd.
  • At the intersection with the Tennessee Hollow Trail, turn right briefly to visit the Wayburn Redwood Grove. This is a good place to stop for lunch or a snack.
  • When ready, head back to the Tennessee Hollow/Presidio Promenade intersection, and turn right to continue on the Presidio Promenade.
  • When you reach Highway 101, the Presidio Promenade veers west (left) and parallels the freeway for a short distance.
  • Continue following the Presidio Promenade as it veers away from the freeway and becomes a divided bike/pedestrian path.
  • At McDowell Ave., you may wish to take a brief side trip to visit the Presidio Pet Cemetery.

Optional side trip to visit the Presidio Pet Cemetery:

  • Turn right at McDowell Ave., and walk to the street’s end at Crissy Field Ave.
  • Turn left and look for the pet cemetery on your left.
  • Enter the cemetery for a closer look at the gravesites.
  • When ready, head back the way you came on McDowell Ave.
  • Turn right at the Presidio Promenade to continue the route.

End optional side trip

  • Continue on the Presidio Promenade as it shortly passes under the freeway. On your right after you pass under the freeway are views of Crissy Field below.
  • Continue on the Presidio Promenade as it nears the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza.
  • At the sign for the gift shop, don’t go up, but continue on the path.
  • After passing under the bridge, you will begin following signs for the Coastal Trail.
  • Pass through an area of World War II era batteries, stopping to investigate if you like.
  • At the fork past the batteries, turn right and towards the stairs. At the time of this writing (early 2010), a signpost wasn’t visible right at the fork; the sign is off to your right near the stairs.
  • Take the stairs to begin walking on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.
  • Pass a fork on your right that heads down to North Baker Beach.
  • Continue on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail as it winds it way along the coast.
  • At Battery Crosby, head over the bunker (don’t turn left just before the bunker).
  • Shortly, the Batteries to Bluffs Trail ends at a juncture with the Coastal Trail.
  • Turn right to continue on the Coastal Trail.
  • Continue straight past a trail heading out to Baker Beach.
  • Shortly you will see a another battery (Chamberlin) ahead of you. Follow the trail right, heading towards the battery.
  • When you reach the battery, you can either walk south along the beach or on the trail to the left of the battery.
  • Head through the parking lot and continue along the right side of the road, paralleling the beach.
  • As the road starts to curve, follow the Coastal trail away from the road and towards another parking lot.
  • Continue on the sandy Coastal Trail as it passes the parking lot and buildings and zigzags through an area of shrubbery.
  • Shortly, the trail ends at a cul-de-sac. Continue straight at the street.
  • Very shortly, turn left (straight ahead is a dead end).
  • Turn right at the next block, Sea Cliff Ave.
  • Follow Sea Cliff past 26th and 27th avenues, watching for views between the houses.
  • Continue on Sea Cliff as it veers left.
  • Shortly, you will see a parking lot for China Beach on your right. If you would like to visit this beach, you can take a detour down to your right. If not, stay left to continue the route on El Camino Del Mar.
  • Shortly, at the next intersection, stay straight (not left), continuing on El Camino Del Mar.
  • Continue on El Camino Del Mar for a few more blocks until your see the sign for Lands End on your right.
  • Turn right into Lands End. Here, you will follow the Coastal Trail through Lands End. This route follows the main trail, but feel free to take side trips to the viewpoints, and then return to the main trail.
  • Continue on the Coastal/Lands End Trail, passing a juncture going towards the Legion of Honor/Museum.
  • Continue on the Coastal Trail, passing stairs on your left to a parking area and the USS San Francisco Memorial.
  • Turn right at the Sutro Baths Upper Trail.
  • Follow the trail all the way to the point, which is the Point Lobos overlook.
  • When you are done enjoying the views at the overlook, head back and then veer right to explore the Sutro Baths area.
  • Head up the ramp or one of the other trails towards the Cliff House on the road above.
  • At the road, Point Lobos, turn right.
  • Follow the road as it curves around past the Cliff House and then head south along the coast along the Great Highway.
  • Pass Ocean Beach on your right, and (soon) Golden Gate Park on your left.
  • At Lincoln, turn left to cross the Great Highway.
  • Continue straight on Lincoln, passing a parking area and businesses on your right.
  • At then next block, La Playa, turn right.
  • Cross Irving Street.
  • Turn left at the next block, Judah.
  • Walk up to the N Judah stop almost at the next corner, on the right (south) side of Judah. Congratulations, you made it!

Getting back from the end point:

  • For all directions, board the N-Judah here at the end of the line, where it will head towards downtown (inbound). From San Francisco, take the N-Judah to your starting point. For the East Bay and the Peninsula, take the N to Civic Center station (or Powell, Montgomery, or Embarcadero stations, but transferring at Civic Center will give you a better chance of a seat on BART) and transfer to BART. For the North Bay, take the N to Civic Center. Exit the station and walk one block to the Golden Gate Transit stop at 8th and Market streets.
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Categories: Hike, Muni, San Francisco
  1. January 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

    are the baths actively used?

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