Field Trip San Francisco: Hiking Land’s End

Lands End GGB

Yesterday I decided to cut out early to enjoy the lovely weather and it didn’t take much to convince my husband to join me; by three o’clock we were on our way to hike the trails at Lands End, a Golden Gate National Park and one of our favorite spots for viewing wildlife, listening to the crashing waves and watching the sun dip below the horizon.

Lands End Lookout 2Lands End Lookout 1This was our first visit to the Lands End Lookout, completed in April 2012. Perched high above the ruins of the Sutro Baths, this 4,150 square foot visitor’s center provides public restrooms, a small café, educational exhibits and retail space. Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, the building makes use of daylight, passive cooling, captured rainwater, reclaimed redwood, solar panels, LED lighting, low-flow fixtures and 40% flyash concrete.

Sutro Baths Then and NowSutro Bath Ruins 1 Sutro Bath Ruins 2

Sutro Bath Ruins 4

A wild river otter (Lontra canadensis) has taken up residence in the ruins, but we never saw him (or her), despite the perfect weather.

Lands End Dolphins 2

We did however see several pods of dolphins!

Lands End Dolphin 1Lands End Dolphin 3Lands End Dolphin 4

Were you able to spot them in the preceding photographs? If you go, take binoculars!

Lands End Arch Rock Ruins

Lands End Sunset RocksSutro Bath Ruins Sunset

Lands End Sunset Pelican

After our hike, we stayed to watch the sunset. The perfect ending to a lovely day!

If you’re planning a visit to San Francisco, I highly recommend allowing several hours to walk these coastal trails. If you come mid-week, there’s usually parking available in the Lands End Lookout parking lot. Other nearby sights include The Cliff House and Ocean Beach. Most people go to the Cliff House for the restaurant, but I’m anxious to see the camera obscura. Ocean Beach is great for long walks along the water, but I don’t recommend trying to swim – the water is too cold and dangerous (sharks and strong currents). There are plenty of surfers and shore birds to watch and sand dollars to find. If you go, my only requests are that you don’t litter and don’t worry the birds – their life is difficult enough without being chased by dogs and stupid humans.

If you get hungry, we like The Pizza Place on Noriega (we had dinner there after our hike). It’s a casual neighborhood restaurant (filled with locals & surfers) that makes very good thin crust pizza (we like the Greek or our own combo of caramelized onions, goat cheese and arugula) and has a good selection of beer on tap. Along with our pie, we always order the salad of the day; it never disappoints. Yesterday, it was kale with radishes, roasted red pepper, crushed croutons and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette – an outstanding combination! A large 20″ pie will set you back about $25, but it easily feeds four adults. They also do pizza by the slice, calzones and gluten free pies. We like to sit at the bar, though you’ll find plenty of families sitting at the tables.

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