What’s Best: Three views: Take a walk across the graceful span from the north side, look down upon the bridge towers from atop Hawk Hill, or see the gate from the Pacific side at Kirby Cove.
Parking:From Hwy. 101 north, take the Sausalito exit after coming through the Waldo Tunnel your last exit before the bridge. Veer right on the uphill grade toward the Marin Headlands, and then turn left into a large, unpaved parking area. From Hwy. 101 south, take the Alexander Ave. exit, just past the Vista Point exit, on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Turn left, going under the freeway and turn back toward the bridge; keep right toward the Marin Headlands, and then turn left into the parking lot. Agency: Golden Gate National Recreation Area; Golden Gate Transit
To walk the Golden Gate Bridge, go down the stairs to your right as you facethe roadway. You’ll go under the roadway superstructure to Vista Point. Go down the stairs that lead to the 10-foot-wide walkway. You’ll reach the north tower, with its curved railing section and deco light stanchions, after about .25-mile. Pedestrians may walk the bridge until 9 p.m. After nightfall is a film-noir time to venture out, with city lights in the distance and the artfully lit bridge towering above dark waters.
Golden Gate Bridge Map Distances Photo Gallery
To Battery Spencer, drive uphill on Conzelman Road for about .25-mile and park on your left. Wander out through the relic cannon emplacement, at a height about halfway up the bridge towers. Huge freighters churn in and out the Golden Gate. Battery Spencer is a small walk with a big scenic payoff. To Kirby Cove, walk down the gated road adjacent to Battery Spencer parking area. The road winds down through cypress and other conifers to a wild beach, usually strewn with driftwood. Pine needles carpet a forested flat above the beach at group campsite. The beach features a Pacific-side view of the bridge. This is a ruggedly beautiful beach and the only one readily accessible on the steep southern shore of the Marin Headlands. Black basalt and red-brown chert marble the base of the seacliffs. Be Aware: Surf conditions make for unsafe swimming.
To Hawk Hill, continue driving up Conzelman Road from Battery Spencer. Some 20,000 eagles, hawks, falcons, and other raptors soar over the hill each year. After 2 miles, past a turnoff to McCullough Road, park on your left. This is where Conzelman becomes a one-way road down to Marin Headlands. You will see two tunnel openings on your right. The short trail to the top is near the beginning of the one-way road. As the raptor flies, Hawk Hill is little more than a mile from the north bridge tower, and about 150 feet above it. Migrating raptors don’t like to fly over water, and both east and west of the Golden Gate are vast sheets of the wet stuff. On the short walk back, you have the option of taking trails through either of the large but short tunnels bored as part of the WWII-vintage Battery 129. Note: Conzelman continues to the Fort Cronkhite, an alternate route from that described in TH16.
Bike: This trailhead parking is a good starting point for trips across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. Use the west walkway on weekends. On weekdays cross under the bridge to use the east walkway. See TH14 for cycling options on the south side of the bridge to Crissy Field, Presidio, or the Pacific coast.
Conditioned road bikers may opt for a Headlands loop, beginning at the north side bridge parking. The route follows paved roads with ups-and-downs totaling about 1,000 feet over about 7 miles. Start up Conzelman from the bridge parking, climbing steeply at times for the first 2 miles, to the Hawk Hill parking. The road becomes one-way, lessening traffic concerns, as you drop some 800 feet through open country. From the bottom of the valley, pick up Bunker Road going east, which climbs gradually to the long Barry-Bunker Tunnel; it has an adequate bike lane. Come out of the tunnel and turn right on Alexander Avenue, climbing back to the parking area.