Have you ever had a relative or friend come visit from out-of-state and felt like you just had to take them to see the Golden Gate Bridge? As much as I feel like this landmark is always awe-inspiring, sometimes it can feel monotonous to experience it in the same way over and over.
Batteries to Bluffs Trail is an extremely short hike (1.5 miles) that can add a new perspective to your Golden Gate visit.
This is my cousin, Michael. You may recognize him from the previous post I did about the Observation Deck Loop in Henry Cowell SP. If you haven’t checked out that post yet, you can view it here.
He came to visit me all the way from Virginia for a week this January. We saved San Francisco for his last full day here since it was a weekday and we were hoping to avoid the crowds.
When we took him to the Golden Gate, of course we had to walk across it.
The real thrills of this day, though, came next.
After crossing underneath the freeway traffic on a pedestrian footpath, we came up to some already great views of the bridge and a few of the batteries (AKA “artillery battery” or unit of guns; longer definition here). We continued going until we found the Presidio Coastal Trail, which had these signs.
This short 0.2 miles had a flat and wide trail that took us through some eucalyptus trees (which I learned were brought here from Australia) and some cypress trees (which I learned were most likely already here when the Spaniards arrived in the late 1700s).
We then rounded a corner to reveal all of the steps that our path would continue down.
At the end of the turn, we were rewarded with our first glance of the Golden Gate from this trail.
Of course, it was very important to us to take advantage of the photo ops.
After all of the pictures were taken, we began our descent.
The wooden steps were a nice touch since none of us had hiking boots and the ground was wet from the heavy rain earlier in the morning.
There was a nice view of the Pacific Ocean while we walked.
We started to notice that the side of the hill has a blue hue to it. Do you know what this is from? If you do let me know because I am curious and couldn’t find any information online.
After we walked down the last few steps, there is a separate trail that leads down to the beach below.
Once down to the beach we were rewarded with the vast expanse of the Pacific and EVEN MORE great photo ops.
After spending a little bit of time on the beach, we had to start heading back up to the car since the parking was metered. There was a bit of mud and unfortunately Mike stepped in a bit of a soupy spot!
The rest of the hike from there was mostly wooden steps.
After climbing up the steps, we walked past this old battery where once was a huge gun for coastal protection. We walked around on this for a bit and then continued to the road for the remainder of the trail.
While I have never before hiked the Batteries to Bluffs trail, I have been to this area before. A little over a year ago I visited this same spot to watch the sunset and it was magical.
Jon and I went with our friends and roommates, Luke and Elena. We snagged some killer seats up on one of the batteries to watch the sun sink into the ocean.
And of course we also had to take some silly silhouette photos!
I think the best way to time this short hike would be to arrive in the late afternoon to do the hike, and then bring some snacks or hot chocolate to enjoy with the view once the sun starts to sink.
However, for those who don’t want to bring snacks and would rather enjoy the plethora of delicious food San Francisco has to offer…
Both days I’ve been the the batteries near the Golden Gate Bridge, I also went to Cafe Cole. It is about three miles away so it it’s a great option if you want to get more of a work out in. Of course there’s also always driving, public transportation, and Uber/Lyft/taxi. I’m not sure about Lyft, but Uber has a great service in the city called Uber Pool. Uber Pool is Uber at a discounted cost and merely adds the chance that you will stop along the way to pick up other pool riders, as long as your party is made up of two or less people.
Cafe Cole has a little bit of everything but what I recommend the most is their smoothies. They don’t add unnecessary sweeteners like so many other places do, which takes away a little bit of the guilt! 😉
The first time I visited, I ordered the Juniper (ginger, apple, pear) juice and the second time, I ordered the Better-Than-Prozac smoothie (banana, milk, shot of espresso, cocoa powder, peanut butter). Both are, as the kids these days say, “on fleek” (did I use it right?).
Luke and Elena ordered a carrot-based smoothie and a berry-based smoothie. Unfortunately, since it was over a year ago now, I can’t remember the names.
Cafe Cole is located in the Lower Haight, nearby Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle. To view their menu, click here.
As mentioned previously, this hike is very short: about 0.7 miles with (for the most part) half of it downstairs and half of it upstairs, then another ~0.5 miles along the road back to where the trail began. All in all, about a mile and a half.
To read more details about the trail and see a map, head to EveryTrail.
A map to the trail head:
Rain, fog, shine, or sunset, this trail will provide great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean that will have long-time SF residents feeling like excited tourists. If you’ve got a friend coming to town, or if you a spare hour or two on your weekend, head out to Batteries to Bluffs in the Presidio (and don’t forget to stop by Cafe Cole!). You won’t regret it!