Lands End Trail

San Francisco, California

4.7/5
based on 24 reviews

Details

Distance

3.26 miles

Elevation Gain

500 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Julien Bacal

The Lands End Trail is one of the best hikes in San Francisco, California with great views of the coastline and the Golden Gate Bridge. The trail runs through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is protected by the National Park Service.

The Lands End Trail is a 3.26 mile out-and-back hike located in the northwest corner of San Francisco along the city's rugged coastline. Offering spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and the Pacific Ocean, the hike is one of the most popular trails in San Francisco for both locals and tourists.

The Lands End Trail in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a fairly easy 3.26 mile out-and-back hike along the coastline of San Francisco. Entrances to the trail are at both the Visitor Center parking Lot just up from Cliff House or in the Sea Cliff neighborhood off of El Camino del Mar (near the Lincoln Golf Course and Legion of Honor).

Some key facts about the Lands End Trail:

  • Length: 3.26 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy, good for all skill levels
  • Elevation gain: Minimal, relatively flat
  • Location: Northwest corner of San Francisco
  • Trailhead access: Parking at Visitor Center lot or Sea Cliff neighborhood

Be sure to arrive at the trail early as it both starting points can get very crowded especially on weekends. For the best weather and views, late summer and fall months tend to be warmer and potentially have less fog. This will definitely help if you're hoping to a view of the Golden Gate Bridge or out to Ocean beach.

The Lands End Trail can get quite busy, particularly on weekends and sunny days. To avoid crowds, plan to start your hike early in the morning. The best times to visit are on weekdays if possible or in the off-season during late fall, winter and early spring when fog is more likely.

From the trailhead, head along the Coastal Trail and continue along the path taking in viewpoints until you reach the Sutro Baths and the visitor center. From here, you can simply head back the way you came to return to your car. If you wish to make this hike a loop, you can head back along El Camino del Mar. The loop trail is only slightly longer, making it a 3.4 mile hike. The out-and-back keeps things simple and allows you to take in one more view of any points you may have missed along the coast or to make sure you get that photo opportunity you were thinking of on the way out.

The Lands End Trail can be done as an out-and-back hike or as a loop combining the Coastal Trail and neighboring El Camino del Mar. The out-and-back covers 3.26 miles while the loop is around 3.4 miles.

Dogs are allowed here leash-free if kept under voice control, but leashes are recommended for the safety of your dog and others who use the trail. Keep an eye out as this path is also used by mountain bikers and trail runners.

The Lands End Trail is dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed off-leash if under voice control. However, leashes are recommended due to the mix of hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers sharing the path.

The highlights of the trail include access to China Beach, views of the Sutro Baths, Mile Rock Beach, Point Lobos, the USS San Francisco Memorial, and the Golden Gate Bridge. This is a great hike if you're looking to explore different viewpoints of San Francisco or if you want to get a scenic hike in with coastal views and not have to cross the Golden Gate.

It's also not too strenuous, making it a family-friendly hike.

Highlights along the Lands End Trail include:

  • Panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Scenic overlooks of the Marin Headlands, Pacific Ocean, and San Francisco Bay
  • Historic sites like the Sutro Baths ruins and USS San Francisco Memorial
  • Secluded beaches like Mile Rock Beach and China Beach
  • Dramatic cliffs and rugged coastline

With its relatively easy terrain, the hike is suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.

How Long does it Take to Hike?

The Lands End Trail typically takes 1.5-2 hours to complete at a relaxed pace with stops. Plan for more time if you want to have a picnic or linger at the scenic overlooks.

Directions to Lands End Trail

If you're driving, you can head West on Geary Street. Turn right on 32nd Street until making a left on Camino del Mar and continue until it becomes Lincoln Highway. You can park on the street at the entrance to the Lands End Trail or in the parking area for the Legion of Honor. Be sure sure to check signs for parking restrictions. If you prefer a designated parking lot, you can start the trail in reverse heading west on Geary until you see the lot on your right hand side as you come down the road and reach Camino del Mar (right after passing 47th Ave).

Parking Options

  • Street parking along Camino del Mar or Lincoln Highway
  • Parking lot at Legion of Honor
  • Designated Lands End Trail parking lot on Geary Blvd

After the Hike

Looking for a spot to stop off and picnic? Mile Rock Beach or Sutro Baths make for a great place to post up. You can stop by Devil's Teeth on Balboa en route to the hike to pick up some goodies!

After your hike, enjoy a picnic at scenic spots like Mile Rock Beach or the Sutro Bath ruins. Stop at Devil's Teeth Bakery on Balboa Street to pick up sandwiches, snacks and baked goods for your outing.

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app
Download GPX File

Features

Photography
Running
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Groups
Scenic

Lands End Trail Reviews

One of those places that probably will always have lots of people but it’s not long or hard so it’s a must do. I also came here late at night during the 4th of July, the moon was nice a full and illuminated what wasn’t covered with trees it was beautiful.

I walk, hike, run on this trail several times a week. I work just up the hill at the VA and love to come here after work for some exercise. I prefer to take this trail sometime Monday through Friday, as it gets really packed on the weekends. It is even fun on a rainy day! For more cardio you can hike down to Mile Rock Beach and then back up. Those stairs are tough.

My family and I did this hike back in Feb and it was beautiful! We had done some research before hand and read that it was a great beginner hike and that anyone could complete it. So we took the plunge and took our whole family out (3 kids in stroller & 10 adults). Highly recommended walk/hike, but for sure not wheelchair & stroller friendly, there are sections that are too narrow or filled with stairs.

Hands down one of my all-time favorite places to go. I take all my friends from out of town here because you get stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Sutro Baths, and GG bridge.You really can't go wrong with this hike - the main trail is very accessible, but there are lots of offshoots you can explore, so it fits most levels of experience. If you're lucky, you may even see some whales or dolphins!

Plenty of parking. Trails are perfect for strollers and toddlers. There are a couple of areas with stairs so have a extra help for the stroller if you decide to bring one. From the trails you can see whales coming up for air.

One of my favorite things about this trail is the ability to start from pretty much anywhere. There is an abundance of available parking spots alongside the entire trial.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Mile Rock Beach

Crab Fishing at China Beach

Baker Beach

Baker Beach Sand Ladder

Sutro Baths Ruins

Camp at the Rob Hill Campground