Coastal Hike from Sutro Heights Park to Crissy Field
8.0 miles     1200 ft
20 Feb 2011

A gorgeous hike along the Pacific coastline with several detours to vista points and beaches.

Location: San Francisco

Elevation Profile

Start Location

Location: Intersection of Balboa St & Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 94121 . Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: February 2011)

Capacity: Dozens of cars may be parked here.

Latitude: 37.775057     Longitude: -122.511238

End Location

Location: (Crissy Field Parking) E Beach & Javowitz St, San Francisco, California 94123 . Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: February 2011)

Capacity: Dozens of cars may be parked at Crissy Field parking lot. In Feb 2011, we realized that Javowitz St was not recognized by some Garmin GPS units. The intersection of Mason St and Yacht Rd is very close to the Crissy Field parking lot. If parking is tight at Crissy Field, you may try parking Yacht Rd or Estrian Way (see Google Map for details).

Latitude: 37.805868     Longitude: -122.451178

Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» Walker's Map of San Francisco by Pease Press: Excellent quality maps showing many parks and trails in the San Francisco area. Many of these parks do not have free trail maps online. Cost was $7.95 in April 2011.

» GGNRA Trail Map: Decent trail map. Mileage information is missing.

» Presidio Trail Map: Good map showing various trails near the Presidio. Also see Presidio Trails (PDF) and Presidio Map for further information.


Route: There are two ways to start the hike:

  1. Walk on pavement next to Great Highway to reach Cliff House → Sutro Bath ruins → Point Lobos.
  2. Walk 0.1 miles along Balboa St to reach the intersection with La Playa St. Enter Sutro Heights Park on your left. Walk through Sutro Heights Park to reach Point Lobos St. Cross over to reach Coastal Trail to reach Sutro Bath ruins → Point Lobos.

From Point Lobos onwards, follow signs for Coastal Trail all the way. The trail is heavily used. So if you're unsure, you may ask fellow walkers for directions.

Trail Maps: A good map is Walker's Map of San Francisco by Pease Press. It is available for sale for $7.95. For the northern section of this route, Trail Map of Presidio has excellent details. The section of the hike between Land's End and Baker Beach is on paved roads. For this section, there are hardly any signs and you would need a map. For the rest of the hike, you are likely to get by without maps.

Side Trails and Landmarks: The information below may overwhelm you — it is helpful if you care to know names and historical significance of landmarks that you encounter along the route. It is possible to enjoy the hike without this knowledge.

  1. Sutro Heights Park: websiteYelp reviewsdetailed writeup by Joseph Stubbs. Sutro Heights Park is at the intersection of Balboa St and La Playa St, close to the starting point.
  2. Cliff House: website. Cliff House lies along Great Highway, close to the starting point.
  3. Sutro Baths Ruins: websiteYelp reviews. These ruins lie just north of Cliff House. Take a side trail to see the ruins and Point Lobos, a lookout location.
  4. Land's End Park (websiteYelp reviews) has side trails taking you to interesting locations:
    1. USS San Francisco Naval Memorial lies in the southern section of Land's End. Nearby, there is a short flight of steps reaching a great lookout point
    2. Mile Rock Beach (websiteYelp reviews). A side trail takes you to this beautiful beach. A fork along the same trail takes you to a man-made rock formation called the Labyrinth. This is one of the best lookout points along the trail, with 270-degree views.
    3. Painted Rock: Yelp reviews — As you walk along Coastal Trail in Land's End, you shall see signs for a side trail leading you to Painted Rock. In Feb 2011, the side trail was closed because of a landslide. However, a large section of this trail was walkable and safe.
    4. Eagle's Point: Yelp reviews. A great lookout location towards the northern end of Land's End.
  5. From Land's End, the trail is along paved roads for about half a mile: El Camino Del Mar — continue along Seacliff Drive — left on 25th Avenue to reach a cul-de-sac where a short trail takes you to Baker's Beach. Google Map for details. You may make a side trip to China Beach along this section.
  6. Baker Beach (Yelp reviewsDetailed writeup by Joseph Stubbs). Either walk the entire length of the beach and return to Coastal Trail via the Sand Ladder at Baker Beach: Yelp reviews. Alternately, you may walk half the length of the beach and walk up the gently graded Coastal Trail to reach the intersection with the Sand Ladder.
  7. Batteries to Bluffs Trail: Yelp reviews. This trail starts at the intersection of Coastal Trail with the Sand Ladder at Baker Beach. A nice trail that meanders along the coastline, parallel to the Coastal Trail.
  8. Marshall Beach: Yelp reviews. A small stony beach accessible from Batteries to Bluffs Trail. The beach provides a wonderful spot for photographing the Golden Gate Bridge.
  9. Golden Gate Bridge: Yelp reviews. The Coastal Trail offers close up views as it takes you below the bridge.
  10. Warming Hut: Yelp reviews. A restaurant next to Fort Pier Point, within 0.2 miles of Golden Gate Bridge. Some people call it a "tourist trip" because of exorbitant prices.
  11. East Beach: Yelp reviews. You may walk on the beach or along a trail that parallels the beach.
  12. Crissy Field: websiteYelp reviewsDetailed writeup by Joseph Stubbs. Ending point of the hike.
A detailed writeup of landmarks along this route, by Joseph Stubbs.
Cliff House - Sutro Bath Ruins
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