How does this work?
San Francisco, California, United States

Find Nature at Lands End

The wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco is a land of rich history and spectacular nature

Viewed 112363 times
    This guide contains photos
 (10 votes, 3 reviews)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.4 miles / 5.5 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Lands End is the wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco, a corner strewn with shipwrecks and a history of landslides. At the tip of Lands End is Point Lobos, named by the Spanish for its many lobos marinos (sea wolves); the barks of those sea lions, as they are called today, drifted up from the rocks below. The sea lions have since relocated to the calmer waters of San Francisco Bay. Trails at Lands End offer a cliff-top walk through dark cypress and open grass and 30-mile views up and down the California coast.

The craggy headlands that border the Golden Gate have always challenged developers. The rocky exposed bluffs, often windswept and cloaked in fog, have hampered attempts to tame this corner of San Francisco. Despite the terrain, this section of the Coastal Trail was once a railroad bed, and the adjacent street, El Camino del Mark, once extended through Lands End. The two roads led to the Cliff House, Sutro Baths and Ocean Beach. Landslides eventually closed both routes.

Tips: This is a GREAT little walk in San Francisco if you are looking for a nice escape from the city.

The Palace of the Legion of Honor is a great museum if you have a couple of extra hours to spare


There are several nice stops along the path where you can stop to have a snack or picnic while enjoying the great view.

Picnic tables, grills and a restroom are available at West Fort Miley. Park at the West Fort Miley parking lot, walk a short way back along El Camino del Mar (near the entrance to the parking lot) and take the first paved road uphill to the left.


Bicycles are permitted on most trails at Lands End. Bikes are not permitted on open terrain of the Coastal Trail between Pointed Rock access road and Eagles' point; Coastal Trail bikers can bypass that gap by using El Camino del Mar. Check the maps posted here and at trailheads throughout the park for current access information.

Dog Walking

Dogs are permitted on designated trails at Lands End and beach areas. Check the map above for access information. Current dog walking information is also available on the park's website,, and by telephone at 415-561-4732.

Viewing Wildlife

Lands End is a great place to spot birds--more than 250 species, including Brandt's cormorants, brown pelicans, Heermann's gulls, red-winged blackbirds, Anna's hummingbirds and chestnut-backed chickadees. Turn your sights to the surf and you might see dolphins, seals, sea lions or a migrating whale.

Points of Interest



Park in the parking lot just off of Point Lobos Avenue and walk north toward the trailhead. If this lot is full, you can turn north onto El Camino Del Mar where there is a larger parking lot.

Seal Rocks

In 1887, at Adolph Sutro's urging, Congress designated Seal Rocks a marine preserve--one of the nation's first--to protect the colony of sea lions that resided there. The colony has since moved around the Golden Gate to Pier 39, but you can still spot sea lions and seals off Lands End.

Sutro Baths

The Sutro Baths were a large public bath house constructed in 1896 and served the San Francisco community until 1966 when the building burned down (how ironic).

Take the short path down to the shore to get a closer look. There is a small tunnel you can walk through under the main platform to see the waves crashing on the nearby rocks.

When you are done, continue back up the path to meet up with the main coastal trail.

Rails Along the Golden Gate

In the late 19th century, three miles of sand dunes lay between the developed portion of San Francisco and Ocean Beach. San Francisco mining engineer and entrepreneur Adolph Sutro owned much of the Lands End area. He had bought the Cliff House in 1881 and would soon build his famous Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights gardens.

Sutro persuaded his financier cousin to construct a steam railway along the cliffs above the Golden Gate to bring city residents across the dunes and bluffs to his beach attractions. The steam-powered ferries and the Cliff House Railway operated from 1888 until 1905, when electric streetcars replaced the locomotives. Landslides closed the track in 1925. You can now hike the former railroad bed along the Coastal Trail to the Cliff House.

Vista Points

Sweeping views of the entire Golden Gate are offered along the trails at Lands End. Vistas include the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, Pacific Ocean and the Mile Rock lighthouse, all of which can be seen from the California Coastal Trail.

Three overlooks along the trail offer seating and photo opportunities. At Eagles Point, at the east end of Lands End, a wooden viewing platform and staircase on the cliff face provides a sweeping view of the entire Golden Gate--the entrance to San Francisco Harbor.

Drive-in vista points are located on El Camino del Mar and the Lands End parking lot and offer similar views. Continue north along the Lands End overlook with its view of the Sutro Baths, Cliff House, Seal Rocks and Pacific Ocean to the trailhead where more information is available.

Behind you, you will find a staircase leading to the USS San Francisco Memorial, which you will visit later in the tour.

Shipwreck Remains

The Mile Rock overlook at the end of the paved segment of the Coastal Trail offers views of the remains of three historic shipwrecks. At low tides the wrecks of the Ohioan, Lyman Stewart and Frank Buck are visible by looking northwest almost at the shoreline. Offshore to the northeast stand Mile Rocks, the Mile Rock lighthouse and the point of land known as Lands End.


About halfway along the trail you will reach an optional detour that allows you to walk to the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth was created by a local artist and also offers great views of the Marin Headlands across the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

Take your time to walk the maze, but don't cheat!

If you want more time at the beach, there is a trail leading to the shore where you can get closer to the waves crashing on the rocks.

End of the Trail

Once you have reached the other end of the Lands End Trail you can either walk back along the same route or walk along the road that leads through the golf course past the Palace of Legion of Honor Museum.

Palace of the Legion of Honor

The Palace of the Legion of Honor is a museum in Lincoln Park surrounded by a golf course. It houses a standing collection as well as several temporary exhibitions.

Address: 100 34th Ave
Phone: (415) 750-3677
Hours: Tue-Sun 9:30am-5pm
Admission: Adults $10, Seniors 65+ $7, Children 13-17 and college students with ID $6, Chldren 12 and under Free

USS San Francisco Memorial

The USS San Francisco Memorial honors those who fought on the navy cruiser that spearheaded the naval battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. The ship sustained 45 hits in combat. The names of 107 men lost in the battle are engraved in the memorial, flanked by part of the actual shell-riddled bridge of the warship. You can walk around the memorial by following the Coastal Trail to the stairs leading up to the Fort Miley vista area or drive in along El Camino del Mar.

Sutro Heights Garden

Adolph Sutro created his garden in the 1880s for his own pleasure, but invited the public to stroll among the exotic tree species, delicate flowerbeds and stone statuary. The quiet lawns are a favorite place for picnickers and a rest stop for hikers and bikers.
Pictures in this guide taken by: oruwu, vpsf, chris, Steve44MCaUSA, stevelabo
One of my favorite things about SF is that you can live in the city, and at any point easily bike out here. This trail is incredibly beautiful; the ruins of the Sutro Baths were the most breathtaking part of the trail. Parts of the Cliff House railbed are preserved along the trail - imagine taking the train along these cliffs! It must have been a marvelous era, when safety wasn't such a big concern. Along the trail, you can see where the Yelamu Ohlone tribe once lived, hunting, fishing and gathering along the coast. Beware that you might not see shipwrecks if the tide is high – I didn't, though the lighthouse was visible.
Visited on Nov 30, 2013

by jqln on Dec 22, 2013
My favorite getaway in the city. Few people who live in San Francisco know about this great area with amazing views and nice hiking trails. On a nice day pack a lunch and stop off at one of the many viewpoints or walk down to one of the few secluded beaches to enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the jagged rocks.

On a clear day you can see the Marin Headlands across the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

Visited on Mar 07, 2010

by chris on Mar 11, 2011
The parking lot next to the U.S.S. San Francisco is just about the darkest location in SF. The SF Sidewalk Astronomers meet there for observing parties.

Also, there is a rock maze on the rocks above one-mile-beach. Nothing fancy but it has remained intact for years.

by wooac on Mar 13, 2010

Find Nature at Lands End Trail Map

POIs: numbers | icons View large Trail Map

Have an iPhone or Android?

  • Map your route while you move
  • Add trip photos to your map instantly
  • Share trips right from your phone
  • Find and follow trips from other travelers

Available For:
iPhone | Android

About the Author

84 guides
view chris's profile
I've been keeping track of my travels on my travel blog, When I'm not...

Find Nature at Lands End 3 Day Forecast

Extended Forecast
How To Get There
Get directions from: