Lands End Coastal Trail

The Lands End Trail is on every tourist’s wish list. With its postcard-perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands and access to a hidden labyrinth perched high on the cliff there’s no question why this trail is so popular. The trail begins at Sutro Baths and is usually done as an out-and-back hike. However, I prefer doing the hike as a loop and ending with a visit to the hidden abandoned battery.

Starting at Sutro Baths and heading to Mile Rock Beach, the first mile of this trail might require a little patience. While the first part of the trail is flat and wide, it is often crowded with tourists, couples or families out for a slow stroll. The crowds start to thin near the turnoff for Mile Rock Beach. Take the stairs down to Mile Rock Beach and then follow the narrow path along the cliff to find the secret labyrinth. You can return to the Mile Rock stairs via a path on the opposite side of the labryinth, but people with short legs may need to do a little rock scrambling to reach the upper path that leads through the trees and ends at the Mile Rock stairs.

After returning to the main trail from Mile Rock beach you will head to the left and climb up even more stairs. But, don’t worry, the rest of the trail will be a piece of cake! After you reach the end of the coastal trail, follow the sidewalk to the right and walk along the golf course and past the Legion of Honor before making your way to Fort Miley. After you pass the Legion of Honor it will look like the trail disappears, but look for the trail to the left of the restrooms and follow the signs for Fort Miley.

Often forgotten, Fort Miley is popular with skateboarders and graffiti artists. Aside from the scenic views, exploring this abandoned battery is one of my favorite parts of this trail. The trails here are not well marked and you’ll need to do a bit of navigating to find your way. Walk along the top of the battery towards the cliffside bench and look to your left to find the abandoned octagon house that is hidden in the trees. Take the path to the octagon house and then follow the trail as it leads you to a ropes obstacle course. From here continue to follow the trail and you will find yourself back at the trailhead!

The Trailhead

Located next to the parking lot and Lands End Visitor Center at 680 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, the trailhead begins on the path above Sutro Baths.

The Route

This loop follows the Lands End Coastal Trail and then wraps past the Legion of Honor and through Fort Miley. Not all of the trails are well marked and you may have to do a bit of navigating around the labyrinth and Fort Miley. (See the tips in the hike description above.)

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