Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lands End

View Lands End in a larger map

  • Hiking Trail
  • USS San Francisco Memorial
  • Lands End Point
  • Labyrinth at Lands End
  • Mile Rock Beach
  • Mile Rock Lighthouse
  • Eagle’s Point
  • Scenic viewpoint of Marin County, Point Bonita lighthouse, Golden Gate Bridge, China Beach
  • Birds – Pelicans, Sea gulls

More Info
  • Free parking and free admission
  • Visitor center at the parking lot
  • Restrooms at the visitor center
  • Two parking lots, each about 0.2 miles away from the other
  • Bring flash lights if you decide to stay back until sunset
  • Bring a jacket, it gets cold close to the ocean

Coastal Trail

Length: ~3 miles; Time: 4 hours; Difficulty: Easy

Hiking the Lands End has been on our to-do list for a very long time. As soon as we found a warm and sunny weather forecast that week-end, we grabbed the opportunity. The Coastal Trail in the Lands End begins in the parking lot next to the Visitor Center. We parked our car here and merrily took the trail that soon connected with the second parking lot where the USS San Francisco Memorial is located. The memorial was built to honor those who fought on the navy cruise ship in the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.

After skimming through the placards that offer profound information about the battle, we continued on the picturesque Coastal Trail that took us along the Pacific Coast, offering sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County, Hawk Hill, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Mile Rock Beach, Mile Rock Lighthouse.

View of Golden Gate Bridge from a lookout in the trail

Located in the rockiest north western corner of San Francisco, the Lands End is known for its history of landslides that took away the lives of many people. The wild ocean currents, treacherous rocks and foggy weather have also caused 300+ ship wrecks. Although we could not spot, it is said that the remains of three ships can be seen from the trail during low tides.
Mile Rock Lighthouse in the middle of the ocean

Following a devastating shipwreck in 1901, the Mile Rock lighthouse was constructed in 1906 in the ocean to warn ships of the perilous rocks. The lighthouse was later dismantled and converted to a helicopter pad. This is the first time I saw a lighthouse constructed in the ocean itself!

Trail to Lands End and Mile Rock Beach

We reached a point in the trail where a detour took us down through a long fleet of stairs to the Lands End and the Mile Rock Beach. The Lands End has a labyrinth, which was originally created by Eduardo Aguilera in 2004 for meditation purposes. It was a lot of fun walking in the maze. Another fleet of stairs took us to the Mile Rock Beach. It is hard to miss out the sea gulls and pelicans flying over the ocean.

Labyrinth at Lands End

We continued on to the Coast Trail and reached the Eagle Point, which is the entrance to the San Francisco harbor. An amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge and China Beach to the right awaited us here. This marks the end of the Coastal Trail and we returned to the parking lot via the same route.

Eagle Point - Overlooking China Beach and GG Bridge

However, as it was time for sunset, we stopped by the Mile Point Beach to capture a breathtaking view of the sunset. The strong ocean currents, huge rocks, Marin County on the other side of the Pacific, Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin headlands and Golden Gate Bridge to the right offer dramatic views that any photographer would fall in love with.
Sunset at Mile Rock Beach

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