2.5 miles, 1-3 hours
At the easily accessible Candlestick Point SRA, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, the East Bay Hills, San Bruno Mountain, and downtown San Francisco.
This walk highlights and tours about 2/3 of the park and can easily be done in a couple of hours. The entire trip is kid-friendly and on a combination of both paved and well graded dirt path. Along the parking areas are a number of access points.
There are several unique features to this park.
For one, it's very easy to get to. It's also an experiment in urban recovery. The park is generally on contoured landfill, mounds and vegetation seem designed to provide a wide variety of scenic vignettes, and it's an interesting fusion of grasslands, wetlands, beach, lawns, and fishing piers, with just a smattering of remnant industrial remains. The landscape makes it easy to forget you’re in a former industrial zone yet in the background there's Candlestick Park and Hunters Point Shipyard, making for an interesting contrast.
Bring along some snacks and pack something warm and wind-resistant, just in case.
The park offers a retreat from metropolitan congestion and the opportunity to relax in peaceful scenery. The location on the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay provides a variety of recreational opportunities that include windsurfing, fishing, bird watching, biking, roller-blading, walking, and picnicking. Individual and group picnic sites, as well as fishing piers and other outdoor activities not easily available in the city offer a get-away of open space.
Candlestick Point SRA was the first state park in California developed to bring state park values into the urban setting. Several stories are told of where the point got its name.
The earliest reference dates from the Spanish DeAnza expedition in 1781 noting a candlestick shaped rock pinnacle on the point. The point was also referenced in a U.S. Geodetic Survey in 1869. The rock disappeared around 1920.
The more romantic story is that the area was used to burn old and abandoned ships during the early settlers’ days. When the wooden ships were burned off the point, the last part sinking into the water resembled a candlestick.
Another story is that the point was a local hunting ground named after the candlestick bird, the
chicken-sized long-billed Curlew known for its delicious meat that was nearly hunted to extinction by the 1950s.
During World War II, Candlestick Point was expanded by 170 acres of fill into the San Francisco Bay to build a shipyard for the Pacific War effort. After the war, the landfill remained and became both a local sewer and garbage dump. Shortly after, the football stadium was built in an effort to halt the blight and move the New York Giants to San Francisco.
On the bay side of the stadium grounds, the abandoned fill sat without purpose but in 1977, the California Legislature voted to develop the land as a state park -- the first urban state recreation area.
Take the Candlestick Park exit off U.S. 101 in San Francisco.
8am to 5pm daily, closing later in summer months.
Note: The main day-use parking lot and Last Port parking area are closed on Thursdays and Fridays. Event parking fees are charged on San Francisco 49'er home game days.
Seasons/Climate Recommended Clothing:
The weather can be very changeable. Candlestick Point is in a wind gap and can be subject to high afternoon winds and fog. A typical day can start warm and still. By early afternoon, winds frequently start building from the west. Layered clothing and wind protection is highly recommended.
Candlestick Point SRA is a truly unique state park on San Francisco Bay and offers a surprising variety of activities that include:
Walking, a fitness course, smooth trail biking, rollerblading, fishing, windsurfing, picnicking, birding, a Community Garden.
An outstanding windsurfing location, primarily in the spring and summer.
Fishing opportunities are found along the park's shoreline and two public piers. "Old Pier" on Jamestown Avenue is temporarily closed for rehabilitation. "Fishing Pier" at Sunrise Point is open and has shelters and restroom close by. Seasonal catches include halibut, striped bass, perch, and sturgeon.
Bird watching is best during the winter when migrant waterfowl and shorebirds are in the bay. Pelicans, egrets and hawks can be seen throughout the year.
The park's community garden offers individual garden plots to grow vegetables.
There are a lot of ADA designed tables in the park but firm pads on which tables sit are often a bit small to permit easy movement around tables, getting to grills, or to water easily.
Available are both wind sheltered individual and group picnic areas with great bay views. Call the park to reserve one of the four group picnic sites. They have a 50 person limit per group site.
ADA compliance has been built into most picnic sites to some degree:
Jackrabbit and Mudflat Picnic Areas. Accessible tables on small pads may be usable. Accessible restrooms are nearby. Routes of travel to tables may require crossing short stretches of lawn. Paths to restrooms and parking are generally accessible.
Windharp Group Picnic Area. Accessible tables on small pads. Water spigots may require assistance. Accessible restrooms are in park but not nearby. Accessible Parking is available. Routes of travel from parking to tables are generally accessible.