This San Francisco hike offers nature, history — and unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge

Lands End is a rugged oceanside park within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the 82,027-acre expanse that includes many of the Bay Area’s most jaw-dropping landmarks and vistas. Lands End is usually less crowded than some of the other local spots.

Hugging San Francisco’s northwest shore, Lands End offers an unobstructed view of the iconic structure that draws so many visitors from around the world — the Golden Gate Bridge. And seeing it here doesn’t require elbowing your way through the crowds at Baker Beach or Fort Point. The site’s trails weave through the forests and beaches that abut the steep cliffs and sharp rocks that form a natural “gate” for the ships that sail into San Francisco Bay. Hiking here is a way to feel a little wild again, even in the quintessential 21st-century city.

The Coastal Trail is an easy 1.7-mile route that follows the bed of the railroad that operated here in the 1880s and takes visitors through tunnels of trees and past scenic outlooks. It’s not a strenuous hike. Pause at Point Lobos, named for the sea lions, orlobos marinos, that sometimes sun themselves on the rocks below.

It’s not hard to learn something at Lands End, as signage along the route provides interesting facts about the area’s history and ecology.

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