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San Francisco Scenic Walk: Crissy Field to Fort Point

Crissy Field to Fort Point is San Francisco's Most Scenic Walk

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San Francisco Scenic Walk: Crissy Field to Fort Point

San Francisco Walkers at Crissy Field

© Betsy Malloy 2006. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The walk from Crissy Field to Fort Point is one of the country's most beautiful urban walks, with panoramic views in both directions.

For more than 200 years, the waterfront between the Marina and Fort Point was part of the Presidio, a military base since early Spanish colonists first occupied the area. Today, it is preserved for hiking and outdoor recreation.

You can take this walk at any time of day. In the morning, the Golden Gate Bridge will be bathed in sunlight. In evening, you may see a nice sunset behind the bridge and enjoy city lights as you return. It's a little more than a mile in each direction, and takes about an hour to an hour and half, depending on pace and how much time you spend gazing at the scenery.

Scenes from Crissy Field

Enjoy some of our best shots in this Crissy Field Photo Tour

The Sights

Print our handy map to take along with you. It shows how to get to Crissy Field and where things are. Print this list and take with you, too.

Crissy Field: The restored tidal flats along the Crissy Field waterfront, and the promenade that passes through them form one of the city's most pleasant locales, but it wasn't always like this. The U. S. Army's Crissy Field, named to honor Major Dana Crissy operated here as a first-line airfield from 1921 until 1936. The abandoned field remained part of the Presidio of San Francisco until 1994, when the land was transferred to the National Park Service. Restoration efforts that included re-planting thousands of native plants one by one have restored the marsh and created a waterfront walking trail.

These directions assume you park at the Crissy Field parking on Mason Street. Midway between that parking lot and Fort Point, The Warming Hut serves coffee drinks, juices and sandwiches.

Going West - Golden Gate Bridge Views: Walking westward, you're faced with always-changing Golden Gate Bridge views. Walk off walking path and in a few steps you're on the beach. You may see an egret stalking its prey in the shallows, a windsurfer skipping over the waves like an insect or an ocean-going freighter passing under the bridge.

Fort Point: Follow the path west to its end and you'll be at the only brick fort west of the Mississippi, built between 1853 and 1861. Modeled after South Carolina's Fort Sumter, it was to be the most technologically advanced fortification of its time. Designed to house 500 soldiers and 126 cannons, it took so long to build that it was obsolete before it was completed. All the soldiers packed up and moved out about 1900, but the fort remains nestled below the southern anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge. Go inside and climb to the top level for a unique perspective.

Going East: The return to the parking lot reveals the views you walked away from: Alcatraz Island, the San Francisco skyline and Palace of Fine Arts, the only remnant of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. Late on a clear afternoon, they glow with golden light.

Where to "Go"

You'll find public restrooms near the Mason Street parking, at the Warming Hut and in the visitor center which is reached by following the paved path leading away from the water at the end of the lagoon.

Getting to Crissy Field

Check our map to see where Crissy Field is located. You can park in the Crissy Field lot just off Mason Street, or at Fort Point just below the Golden Gate Bridge. If you're using a GPS, enter 603 Mason Street, which is the visitor center address.

If you're using public transportation, take Muni bus 28 to the Presidio Main Post stop and walk toward the water. Enter the bus number in the Schedules section at the Muni website to find the bus route and timing.

If you're a hearty walker, you can get to Crissy Field from Fisherman's Wharf. Walk west toward the Golden Gate Bridge, around the edge of Aquatic Park below Ghirardelli Square and follow the pathway over the side of the hill through Fort Mason and keep going west past the marina.

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