Urban Hiking in San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from the Post Card Viewpoint

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most iconic landmark. On a clear day, there are many places where you can catch a glimpse of it including Land’s End, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Presidio, and from areas across the Bay in Oakland. You can also experience the Bridge first hand by driving across it. But in my opinion, the best way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge is to walk on it.

There are many ways that you can get to the Golden Gate Bridge on foot. I’m going to document the way I went, which involves a little extra hiking because, well, it’s what I like to do. It also includes a detour to Fort Point, which is worth the extra effort.

Here is the route that I took. I’m going to embed the screen clipped version first as the result from Google Maps below cuts out some of the detours I took. I like my route better than Google’s suggestion because there are more (and better) photo opportunities along the way.

Hiking trail to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Overall, the hike is going to cover a little under 4 miles. You should budget between 2-3 hours for the hike. The exact time will depend on how many photo stops you take and how long you spend at Fort Point. There are a couple of other notes and suggestions that I would make:

  • I started the hike at the Presidio Park Archives since there was plenty of parking there. You may also want to check out the Hamilton Street Parking Lot and do a round trip from there, which may be slightly shorter (~0.25mi).
  • The weather can vary significantly on the hike, even on sunny days in the summer. You will want to dress in layers and be prepared to carry your jacket/sweatshirt and to layer up when necessary. It can be breezy, or downright windy, up on the bridge and even a little cold. It can also be a little brisk at Fort Point. On an overcast days, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have a windbreaker and warm clothes.
  • If it is a clear day, be sure to bring your sunscreen as the hike is not shaded.
  • The overall elevation change is minimal. I’d classify this as an easy hike. The only thing that makes it a little difficult is the distance traveled.
  • Another word of caution is walking on the Golden Gate Bridge. If you have a fear of heights, you may want to pass on walking onto the Bridge. I’m not deathly afraid of heights, but I find it unsettling. Luckily, the walkway on the bridge is wide enough that you don’t have to skirt the edge. If I did, I may have struggled with the walk on the Bridge. Just be forewarned and be prepared as you venture out onto the structure.

In addition to the photo at the top of the page, here are a couple of the other images that I captured during the hike. Luckily, it was a clear day with excellent visibility. When the fog rolls in, there can be times when you can’t see the top of the bridge, while you’re on it!

West Bluff Picnic Area, Alcatraz Island, Downtown San Francisco

Photo from underneath a pier on the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

If you’re able, and not too afraid of heights, this is one hike that cannot be missed while visiting the city. It is, by far, the best way to experience The Golden Gate Bridge.

By the way, San Francisco has an amazing number of urban hikes. Here are a couple of other fun hikes I’ve taken during trips to the city:

If there are any other interesting hikes that you know of in the city, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to explore the city!


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