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Exploring Lands End

Lands End in San Francisco

Lands End in San Francisco

I love San Francisco. Don’t get me wrong. I love LA, too. But as far as cities go, SF is one of my favorites. Last week Joan and I drove up to visit family for Thanksgiving. My mom is a fantastic cook, and I knew we’d have to get out and stretch our legs after our early dinner so we could at least partially justify that apple pie we’d enjoy later that day.

Trail Details
Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: 60 min.
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 443 ft
Dogs: Yes
When to go: Year-round
And so we headed out to explore Lands End. This rugged and wild little corner of San Franciso hardly feels like a city at all! It feels more like the edge of the world. Beautiful cypress trees frame sweeping coastline views, rugged, rocky beaches and glimpses of old shipwrecks. And the Golden Gate Bridge. On the scale of difficulty, this one ranks more like a nice walk in the park, but totally worthwhile and a perfect choice for the entire family after Thanksgiving dinner.

Getting to Lands End

Lands End is located on the northwester corner of San Francisco, and is stewarded by the National Parks Service. We started by parking in the lot at the end of El Camino Del Mar (turn-by-turn directions on Google Maps).

When we went on Thanksgiving Day, there was plenty of free parking available.

The Lands End Trail

Head toward the coast, and follow a long flight of stairs down to the Lands End Trail. At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll follow the trail to the right (east), but take your time to enjoy the views.

Lands End Information

There are a number of overlooks along the Lands End trail, but much of your view will be filtered through trees.

Sign to Mile Rock Beach

At the 0.56 mile mark, we followed the steps down toward Mile Rock Beach. You’ll descend (and later ascend) about 180 feet down to the rocky beach.

Mile Rock Beach

Over the years, many ships have wrecked on the rocks off this section of coast. It’s easy to see why. Numerous rocks poke up above the surface, hinting at the treachery lurking just below.

There are a number of informal (and possibly illegal?) fire rings setup on this beach. We explored a bit, then took the trail up to the Eagle Point Labyrinth.

Eagle Point Labyrinth

During the early 20th century, this was part of a military base, and this point was fortified with guns to guard the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Now children play in the stone labyrinth, and everyone enjoys the amazing views.

From this point, you have a great view back down on Mile Rock Beach.

Mile Rock Beach from Eagle Point Labyrinth

We wound our way back to the steps and up to the Lands End trail, then headed back to the car and the promise of Mom’s apple pie.

The Lands End Trail normally is open clear through to the ritzy Sea Cliff neighborhood, but it was close for repairs along that final segment. It’s scheduled to reopen sometime in January 2014.

Hiking through Lands End feels light years away from San Francisco, but it’s not. Go explore it. But don’t forget your camera or your sense of adventure.

Lands End Trail Map

Download file: lands-end.gpx

Photo Gallery

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Lands End Resources

Lands End Weather Forecast

[forecast width=”100%” location=”94121″]

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