Since it’s a beautiful day AND we woke up early, my husband I decided to hike Lands End today, in San Francisco, California.
Conveniently (and amazingly) located in the city, visiting this gem is a refreshing way to start a sunny, summer day.
The trail is flat and wide for a good portion at the beginning, and becomes narrow later. We saw several families with strollers and a few people in wheelchairs too (not the whole trail). There are a few sets of stairs throughout the hike and if I’m being honest, I had to stop and take a breather at one point for a couple minutes, but nothing that anyone in relatively good health can’t handle.
While hiking I thought to myself, this is a great hike for Silicon Valley techies and folks on holiday, alike, to take a step back to quietly contemplate and get inspired by the sweeping views. But it’d also be fun to come with a bunch of friends and chat along the way.
The ocean view and Golden Gate Bridge views are uplifting. We lucked out today with all the sail boats too. I kept my eyes peeled for humpback whales, but no such luck.
I loved these rock piles along the beginning of the trail and at Mile Rock Beach (aptly named).
There are no restrooms along the trail, but there are at the Visitor’s Center, on the western end. Additionally there are no places to buy food or drink along the way (thank goodness) but there are several lovely spots to sit and enjoy your own packed picnic or snack.
Don’t leave any valuables in you car. Unplug your car charger and put it in the glove compartment. Put anything you don’t plan to hike with, in your trunk/non-visible. Unfortunately smash-and-grab is not uncommon here.
What to Wear
I wore shorts, a tank top and wide brimmed hat. I packed a light windbreaker too, and I’m glad because when we got there early in the morning, it was chilly but quickly warmed up. Other people were in hiking pants, capris, and t-shirts. I don’t recommend jeans.
I wore “regular” Nike sneakers. I saw people in hiking boots as well as hiking shoes, however I don’t think either are necessary. I also saw a handful of people in hiking sandals. There aren’t a lot of big rocks along the trail so Keens or Tevas would be fine too, although there’s no water crossings or places where your feet will get wet. I don’t recommend flip flops.
In addition to your cellphone camera, you might want something with a zoom. I took my DSLR (Canon T6S with 55-250mm zoom lens). Since the trail is flat, it was easy to carry around my neck the whole time.
Getting There and Parking
You can park on the eastern and western end. However eastern end parking is tougher, with fewer spots as it’s a residential area. I recommend parking at the Western end, which has two lots. We parked at the Merrie Way lot, just above the Cliffhouse Restaurant and the Visitors Center. The trail is ADA accessible for a good portion and you can walk down the steps to the Sutro Baths and Point Lobos observation deck. The lot’s pretty big, with capacity for a couple hundred cars but by 10am on weekends (esp. summer) it fills up.
Note: the trail starting at the eastern end lot is not ADA accessible.
You can get to Lands End by bus, read this article for more info. You could easily use your favorite rideshare app to get there too.
The only disappointment was the graffiti on a number of trees. It’s no fault of the team that manages Lands End, as they’re doing a great job. The path was clear and well maintained.
Brunch and Dining
If you didn’t pack a picnic but you did work up your appetite during the hike, you can head to the Cliffhouse Restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean views. The menu is impressive with farm fresh produce and homemade dressings but it isn’t super vegetarian, nor vegan friendly. So we headed to our favorite dosa spot in San Francisco, Udupi Palace, in the Mission.
The paper masala dosa is my go-to. I can never finish it, but I never get over the thrill when it arrives (you can see why below). Oh, and I can’t really go to an Indian restaurant without having chai…not chai tea…just chai (chai IS tea; so saying ‘chai tea’ is redundant, it’s like saying to your server. “can I please have a coffee coffee?”).
There are loads of excellent restaurants throughout SF and every cuisine or mash-up cuisine you can think of.
More Photos from Lands End