Lands End Trail: A Scenic San Francisco Walk
The walk from the Legion of Honor to the Cliff House along the Lands End Coastal Trail was probably less than a mile. A beautiful walk filled with unexpected history! The entire walk is in The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the largest urban parks in the world, but you completely forget that you're in a city!
As we made our way through this cypress forest, there were numerous opportunities to see the Golden Gate Bridge. While we came across other people who were also enjoying the day, the trail was not crowded. We could quietly stroll at our own pace and take in every vista point.
The cypress forest was not always here. Originally, Lands End was almost treeless. Back in 1933, the city government of San Francisco and the federal government's Civilian Works Administration (CWA) decided to beautify the space and planted thousands of Monterey Cypress.
Here's our first view of the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Adolph Sutro created the Sutro Baths in the late 1800s so the public could experience the Pacific Ocean. The roundtrip train ride to Sutro was five cents, so anyone could afford to enjoy these salt water baths, the largest in the world. Since landslides were problematic for the railroad, this service ended in 1925. However, the baths were open until 1964, when they were bought by developers who began demolishing the baths to build high-rise apartments. Then in 1966, fire destroyed what remained of the site. Now the baths are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The original Cliff House was built in 1863 as a resort for the wealthy. Twice, Cliff House has been reconstructed after fires destroyed it. The National Park Service acquired Cliff House in 1977 and rehabilitated it to its original neoclassical style in 2005. Now it houses two restaurants. The Bistro is casual dining with no reservations taken. In contrast, Sutro's is more upscale dining and reservations are recommended.
The Golden Gate Straight to the right has always been difficult for ships to navigate. Rocky shores. Swift tides. Submerged rocks. And, of course, dense fog. At least a dozen ships have sunk into these waters. We looked for signs of wreckage, but the tide wasn't low enough for us to see any pieces.
My Person and I enjoyed bowls of clam chowder in the Bistro as we watched the sun set. Those rocks are known as Seal Rocks. The sea lions that once lived at these rocks moved to Pier 39 after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Some have returned to Seal Rocks, but we didn't see any on our visit.
After our lovely day exploring the Legion of Honor, walking the Lands End Coastal Trail, and dining at Cliff House, we decided to walk a little farther down Ocean Beach around the exterior of Golden Gate Park. We caught the N-Judah train back to Civic Center and our cocoon where we blissfully and promptly collapsed. Ah, the simple joys of middle age!