San Francisco, CA

Hiking Through Golden Gate Park To Lands End in San Francisco

“When is the hike again?” I eagerly confirmed with Amanda, a good friend of Han’s (Now I am confident and proud to say that she’s a good friend of mine too!), who moved to San Francisco from Boston in September last year but already goes around like she has been living here forever.

“The hike is on Thursday. We are going to Golden Gate Park, Lands End and Precidio…”

“OK. Sounds fantastic! I will make sure that nothing gets in the way on Thursday. Super Excited!”  I meant it!

The past month has been very hectic due to the big move. Apartment searching, lease signing and apartment setting up, furniture purchasing and constructing, marital status changing all happened in one month. Working dedicatedly just like always on top of everything only made us have pretty much no time to go explore the city except that we did get familiar with SOMA where we live very quickly by running errands in the area all the time for the first month. Anyways, the good thing is that we have good friends here to remind us that it’s time to take a break.

Mission Street at South Of Market (SOMA)

Mission Street

Amanda’s friend Jessica from Boston is visiting her in SF for a few days. Since Jessica and I are both new to the city, Amanda kindly arranged this hiking trip. Hell yeah, I am down!

The weather in San Francisco is just simply gorgeous! There hasn’t been a single day that is not beautiful since we arrived. I am still amazed by the fact that it’s sunny every day here. May 23, 2013, Thursday was a perfect day for hiking. Three of us girls grouped up and made a blast out of the trip. Let’s take a look at our hiking route here first.

The total distance from Point A to Point J is approximately 9 miles and takes about 3 hours to finish. However, we took our sweet time (spent 5 hours) to enjoy the breathtakingly amazing view along the way. As a result, we didn’t make it to Precidio. You know that plans can never catch up with changes…

Click below image to see the hiking route in Google Maps. 

Hiking Route

How To Get To Golden Gate Park From Downtown San Francisco 

San Francisco has a vast public transportation network.  The San Francisco Municipal Railway, known as Muni, is the primary public transit system of San Francisco. The system operates with streetcars, cable cars, buses and subways in the city. Another popular public transport method is Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Just like the name, BART runs around Bay Area and it can easily take you from the airport into the city in less than 30 minutes. Basically, you do not need a car to get around here. The public transportation can literally take you to every corner of the city.

In order to go to Golden Gate Park from downtown city, you want to take Muni Metro line N-Judah to Judan & 19th Avenue Station. There are couple of ways to find out – 1) by having an awesome friend in town to show you around; 2) by planning your trip ahead of time. How? Go visit and use the “plan a trip” function by inputting your starting address and destination address. It will tell you exactly how to get there including the fares. I personally like using Google Maps though. Google knows everything.

We gathered at 4th and Market where is really close to Powell Station. Taking line N-Judah from Powell to Judan & 19th Avenue is supposed to take us 45 minutes but line N was running late when we got there. Good thing was that a shuttle bus was arranged above the ground due to the delay. So we followed the instructions broadcasted by Muni Metro and took line K to Church, then switched to the shuttle bus.

Muni Metro Map

Golden Gate Park – The South Side

Although there was a little something unexpected happened with the line N, we spent less than an hour to successfully move from Powell Station to Point A – Golden Gate Park where our one-day hiking trip started.

The Entrance of Golden Gate Park on Lincoln Way from 19th Avenue. 

GG Park Entrance on 19th Av

Going from here, we headed west on Lincoln Way towards the Ocean Beach. Let me give you a simple introduction about Golden Gate Park here. You can always find out more on the internet or just follow our trail and go physically visit the park. :-) Other than some popular attractions charge admission, such as deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers, the park is free to visit.

As one of the most-visited city park in the United States, Golden Gate Park covers 1017 acres of public grounds which is 20% larger than Central Park in New York. These two parks are often compared is not only because they are both large urban parks but also because they are very similar in the shape of rectangle. It is over three miles (5 km) long east to west, and about half a mile north to south.

We started off on the south side of the park which is very chill and quiet. The trail was surrounded by big beautiful trees. The air was fulfilled with fresh grass smell. It was the kind of smell that makes you want to take deep breath constantly. There’s not much going on at this side. Trees, lakes, birds, blue sky, great air and good friends as company were simply enough at the time…

Kids playing at the lakeside

The north side of GG park

We hiked directly towards Ocean Beach where Lincoln Way encounters Great Highway. You could feel the obvious temperature change from this point as it’s really close to the ocean. A wind-block fleece or jacket is crucial for walking from Point C all the way up to Point D. I wasn’t wearing the right type of clothes at all. Thanks to Jessica for letting me wear her sweater. Check out the view at Ocean Beach here. Be prepared so that you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and the sound of the ocean which can drive away whatever problems you have with your life without being blown away by the wind.

Going into Lands End

The Ocean Beach ends at the Cliff House where we ordered coffee to warm up and rest for Lands End. Keeping heading north from the Cliff House led us to have a great angle of vision of the Sutro Baths, which was a large privately owned swimming pool complex inbuilt in the 19th century. The buildings were burned down in 1966 and got abandoned. So what we saw was the ruins.

Sutro Baths

Lands End is another amazing park in Richmond area in San Francisco within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park offers numerous hiking trails along the cliffs also down to the shore. You do not have to go through Golden Gate Park if you want to visit Lands End only. Muni can take you directly to Ocean Beach and you can just walk from there.

Lands End -1

Lands End -2

I don’t really remember what we were talking about on the trail in Lands End. I just remembered that Jessica and I were very into the conversation but we suddenly  got interrupted by Amanda. She had a really good reason to stop us though.

“Girls! Look what’s in front of you?!”

“OMG! Golden Gate Bridge!” We shouted out loudly….

Golden Gate Bridge

For the rest of the trail, whenever we looked up, one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, also the most photographed bridge in the world was just right there in our vision…

Golden Gate Bridge -2

Lands End does offer a great view of the bridge. However, one day in the near future, I will be telling you about what it’s like to bike across the bridge. Can’t wait already…

Out of The Park

Imagine that when you open your back yard door, the above view is what you see. It’s hard to imagine right? The said place is actually one of the most richest neighborhoods in San Francisco – El Camino Del Mar.

El Camino Del Mar

El Camino Del Mar led us out of the park and back into Richmond District. It’s highly recommended to bring water, some snacks or fruit on the way because there are basically no sit-down type of restaurants on these trails. But if you are an early bird and can manage your time very well, go wander around in Richmond area because there are numerous awesome restaurants in this area. We had Thai food on Clement Street at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Jessica needed to go back in town by 5 pm, so we decided to save Precidio for some other day. We figured that going back into Golden Gate Park and then go through it from the north side to the south would bring us back to Judan Street where Muni stations are. Please refer to our hiking route from Point E to J.

Girls on the trail

Girls on the trail

Golden Gate Park – The North Side

The north side of Golden Gate Park is comparatively more exciting. Museums, gardens, art and flowers are mostly on this side. We would probably arrange one day only for visiting Golden Gate Park. I know I am totally coming back here.

deYoung Museum

deYoung Museum

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

We continued walking towards the south through the park and got on 9th Avenue. The Muni station was not far to reach. We took the same line back to downtown.

Oh dear, it was such a wonderful day! I believe that I napped with smile on my face when I got home…

Now that I had a little taste of San Francisco city hike, I promise that there will definitely be more of these type of trips to share with you! Stay tuned and talk soon!

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