Living in San Francisco, it’s easy to forget how truly tiny the place really is: only 7 by 7 square miles. Densely packed into our little city, however, is an incredibly diverse collection of neighborhoods, landmarks, micro-climates, even national parks. One such stretch of natural beauty is often overlooked in favor of its more prominent colleagues (Golden Gate Park, for example) — but it’s truly worth exploring.
The appropriately-named Lands End occupies the very northwestern tip of the city, where you’ll find gorgeous rocky bluffs, forested trails, and the occasional coyote. The area encompasses a number of local institutions: Sutro Baths, the ruins of a private swimming complex from the late 1800s; the Legion of Honor, an art museum that’s picturesque in and of itself; and Fort Miley, a prior military reservation that now houses the San Francisco VA Medical Center. The corner of the city is steeped in rich urban history, while still retaining its distinctly wild, untamed beauty.
My friend S and I started our casual weekend hike at the main Fort Miley parking lot, where you’ll find monuments and trailheads. We walked along the Coastal trail for a bit before detouring towards the water and arriving at a maze, made of pebbles taken from the nearby beach. Afterward, we backtracked and then some, arriving at Sutro Baths, taking in the gorgeous view and even spotting a pod of dolphins. It was an incredibly refreshing, leisurely nature walk that took no time at all — maybe an hour and a half. It was also so easily accessible and so immediately gratifying that I’m already planning out my next escape.