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San Francisco, California, United States

Golden Gate Bridge Walk

Walk across one of the most beautiful bridges in the world with great views of San Francisco in the distance

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    This guide contains photos
 (8 votes, 3 reviews)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.6 miles / 5.8 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly
 
Overview: The Golden Gate Bridge is thought by many to be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, and the opportunity to walk across at least part of it should not be missed. The bridge spans 1.7 miles, but most people only walk to the first tower and back again. If you are feeling more adventurous, walk across the bridge and continue under the bridge up to Hendrik Point for a great view of the bridge with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

The Golden Gate Bridge was open to the public on May 28, 1937. It spans 1.7 miles across the gap between San Francisco and Marin and is 90 feet wide. It's average height above the water is 220 feet, with the two towers rising up to 746 feet above sea level; more than 80,000 miles of wire were used in the bridge. The bridge cost $35 million to construct and was the longest suspension bridge in the world, holding the title almost 30 years until 1964 when it was overcome by the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York.

Nineteen men fell off the bridge while it was being built, but there was a safety net in place to catch them. They were later known as the "Half Way to Hell Club" because of their near-death experiences.

On its 50th anniversary the bridge was closed to cars and opened to pedestrians who were packed like sardines trying to walk around. The weight of the dense crowd was significantly more than the bridge is used to with cars (the cars are much more spaced out), and the curved bridge became temporarily flat until the weight was lifted.


Tips: San Francisco can be a cold city because of the winds and the fog, especially near the water. As Mark Twain famously said, "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." It's best to dress in layers with something to protect you from the wind. A nice sunny day can quickly become very cold once the fog rolls in.

Points of Interest

Parking
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South Parking Lot

Park your car in the metered parking lot on the south side of the bridge. Don't miss the last exit or you will find yourself in Marin.

If the main lot is full, follow Lincoln Boulevard a little way to the spillover parking lot.
Viewpoint
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South Vista Point

At the south end of the bridge you will find a parking lot, visitor center and a gift shop. Look down to see Fort Point below the bridge and look to the other side of the bridge to see the Main Headlands in the distance.

The Roundhouse was built in 1938 as a restaurant. Today it serves as an information center selling souvenirs, books and other information about the history of the bridge; there is a restroom nearby.
Landmark
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Joseph B. Strauss Statue

Joseph B. Strauss was the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was completed in 1937. At that point, it was the largest suspension bridge ever successfully completed measuring at 1.7miles.

A poem was written upon completion:
At last the mighty task is done
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky
...
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Fort Point

If you are up for a short hike, take the path down to Fort Point. Fort Point was completed just before the American Civil War to protect the harbor, but no enemies ever showed up. Today you can walk through the fort, up the stairs to the higher levels or look at the old cannons up close. A few times a day, rangers will give a demonstration of how the cannons were used (but they won't fire them).
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Walking Across the Bridge

The best way to see the Golden Gate Bridge is walking along the pedestrian walkway (or biking along the other side if you prefer). The pedestrian walkway is on the east side of the bridge (on the bay side) and is open only during daylight (the hours are extended a bit in summer). The path is level and dogs are allowed if on a leash.

The entire span of the bridge is 1.7 miles between viewpoints. If you do not feel like walking the entire bridge, walk as far as the first support where you can look straight up to see how massive the bridge is.

If you prefer to ride your bike across, you can do so 24-hours a day, seven days a week (although on weekends bikes are only permitted on the west side of the bridge due to the larger pedestrian crowds on weekends).
Landmark
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Lone Sailor and Sea Services Memorial

The Lone Sailor Statue stands on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge and was dedicated on April 14, 2002, to all of the Sea Services (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine). San Francisco's history is closely tied with its bay and its ports--millions of people in the military have come and gone through the Golden Gate Bridge, especially during World War II.

The plaque reads: "Here the sailor feels the first long roll of the sea, the beginning of the endless horizon that leads to the far Pacific."
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Marin Vista Point

Once you've crossed the bridge you come to beautiful Marin. If you continue a little farther after the road curves to the left, you can get off the main road and walk on the Vista Point Trail, which offers great skyline views of San Francisco across the bay.
map

Hendrik Point

If you are up for a little more hiking before heading back across the bridge to your car, consider walking up to Hendrik Point, where you can walk around the old batteries or just sit and enjoy the view of the Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco skyline in the background.
Pictures in this guide taken by: chris, tomaszdunn, justbob, dsf, wooac, gigi4791, renedrivers
Reviews
coloradojohnsons
Like many others have stated if heading north out of S.F. towards The Golden Gate Bridge don't miss it because you'll have to cross the bridge and its a bit funky to turn around once you do cross to come right back.. if heading south from Marin County towards S.F. cross The Golden Gate Bridge and again don't miss the turnoff which in this case will be to the right. There is the main parking structure by the gift shop (south-east corner of the Bridge); but there is also some metered spots on the other side just head up the bluff a bit (this would be the south-west corner of the bridge and past it about .2 miles. The reason I point this out is most people miss the old Armory buried in the hill side over there and it is a really different nice view of the bridge where you take pictures from the western side of it. I used to live out there and have done it 25 times, if you are doing this for the first time I recommend adding this small portion.. you'll walk alongside Armory--> go under the road to gift shop area --> main parking then walk the bridge on the eastern view side --> the western side of Bridge is not open.
Visited on Mar 14, 2013

by coloradojohnsons on Oct 06, 2013
chris
Walking the golden gate bridge is a highlight of any trip to San Francisco. I have only walked it a handful of times and I have lived here my entire life. It can be pretty windy on the bridge, so wear a jacket or wind breaker.

The views of the Marin headlands are great and you can see Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the entire skyline of downtown SF.

Visited on Jul 11, 2009

by chris on Mar 21, 2011
krbose
This route is fun on a bike too, which after you cross the Bridge to the north allows you to easily cruise (1) UP the hills to the west past Hendrik Point for amazing views of the Bay and coast or (2) DOWN the hill to the east into Sausalito for a meal, shopping and views back of the city.

by krbose on Jan 28, 2011

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chris
chris
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