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Bridge to Marin Headlands

Escape the city and head for the hills! Cross the bridge in search of nature, beaches, lighthouses and awesome roads!

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 19.2 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Just a few short miles from the bustle of San Francisco lies the relative peace and quiet of the Marin Headlands where you can enjoy... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Start Here

The hills of Marin Headlands can pose a challenge to some, but to most folk the 500 foot (150m) climb up Hawk Hill is worth the effort.

Enjoy the views of the coastline, the bridge and the rolling hills and you'll be distracted from the climb. And if at any point you decide that this one big hill isn't for you .. simply turn around and head... More

2. Side Trip: 'Twisty' Lombard St.

A side trip here would add 0.9 miles to your total journey. There's elevation gain of 174ft (53m) to reach Lombard Street.

One of the most iconic images of San Francisco, Lombard Street is also one of the crookedest streets in the world. The quarter-mile long switchback road was designed this way in order to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade, which was considered too steep for cars and pedestrians alike.

4. SF Maritime National Park

Travel back in time to see how 19th Century sailors fared on the Pacific Ocean at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, which includes tours of historic vessels, a visitor center, a maritime museum, and a library/research facility.

(415) 447-5000
Free admission to Hyde Street Pier.
Paid admission required to board vessels.
... More

Formerly the headquarters of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company this preserved block of historic brick buildings is now home to a selection of stores and restaurants.

(415) 775-5500
Free admission.

6. Short Hill: Fort Mason

If you're feeling uncomfortable on this short hill, dismount and walk your bicycle.

A side trip here would add 0.3 miles to your total journey. There are no hills on this side trip.

A huge warehouse of science experiments, the Exploratorium has hundreds of hands-on exhibits for a child or an adult to explore, discover and play.

Touch magnetic black sand, watch a giant ring of mist rise 30 feet in the air, perform some math on a calculator powered by gravity, or crawl and feel your way through a dark obstacle course in the ... More

The Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915 was an event dedicated to progress, the celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal and the rebirth of San Francisco following the disastrous 1906 earthquake.

Considered by many the most romantic feature of the fair, the Palace of Fine Arts was the only building to remain in place after the demolition... More

10. Side Trip: Wave Organ

A side trip here would add 0.9 miles to your total journey. There are no hills on this side trip.

11. Wave Organ

Listen to the music of the waves at the Wave Organ, an art installation that includes 25 organ pipes that rumbles, gurgles and sloshes when the waves move in and out of the pipes.

This piece of environmental art was created by Peter Richards and George Gonzales in 1986 for the Exploratorium, including pieces of masonry salvaged from a demolished... More

12. Side Trip: The Presidio

A side trip here would take you to the Presidio area which you may choose to explore in depth. View our Free Ride guide to see more details of routes in the Presidio.

In 1846 the U.S. Army took control of this once windswept dune area from Mexico and transformed it into a large military base called The Presidio. In 1994 the National Park Service took over the area and it became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Today, the military buildings still stand, although non-profits, businesses and ... More

14. Yoda Statue

Today's Presidio has as much in common with Star Wars as it does wars past. The revitalized former military base is now home to many companies including famed movie special effects artists Industrial Light and Magic and LucasArts. This modest Jedi statue is a welcome nod to the current tenants. Impressive, it is.

Celebrating the life and achievements of the father of Mickey Mouse, the Walt Disney Family Museum is a relatively new addition to San Francisco having opened in 2009. The museum is a great attraction for both children and adults alike, as it presents the story of the man's rise to great things, as told by himself and those who knew him well.

... More

Once the military’s first Air Coast Defense Station on the Pacific Coast, Crissy Field is now a great place to take a break at one of the cafes or picnic tables that sit along a promenade trail. After a quick break you can head to the beach and watch the kiteboarders and windsurfers weave and bob under the Golden Gate bridge or check out the... More

Want to catch some air? House of Air is an indoor trampoline park that lets the kid in you jump and twist on a floor covered with 42 trampolines!

The trampoline floor is also surrounded on all sides by full-sized trampoline walls set at angles to the floor, allowing flyers maximum uninterrupted bounce.

(415) 345-9675
Paid admission.
... More

18. Side Trip: Fort Point

A side trip here would add 0.8 miles to your journey. There are no hills on this side trip.

19. Fort Point

The once grand military fortress guarding the entrance to San Francisco Bay is now dwarfed by the bridge stretching above it. Fort Point National Historic Site has been well preserved for its architectural and historical appeal and can be explored for free by the public.

(415) 556-1693
Free admission.

20. Short Hill: Long Avenue

In contrast to its name, Long Avenue is quite short. Dismount and walk if you're feeling uncomfortable.

The World Records that the Golden Gate Bridge held back in 1937 may have now been surpassed, but the jewel in San Francisco's crown remains proud as an icon of engineering and art-deco design and possibly the most recognizable bridge in the world.

Held in place by cables supported by the two 750ft tall towers, the 1.7 mile span connects the San... More

22. Hawk Hill

Well done on making it to the highest point on this route! Now check your brakes and get a tight grip on your handlebars because it's all downhill from here!

23. Side Trip: Point Bonita Lighthouse Trailhead

24. Point Bonita Lighthouse Trailhead

Built in 1855 and relocated in 1877, the Point Bonita Lighthouse was built to guide ships coming entering the San Francisco Bay during the gold rush era. Now operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the lighthouse is still guiding ships into the Bay.

To visit Point Bonita and the lighthouse you'll have to lock up your bike at the trailhead and... More

Housed within a converted church, the Marin Headlands Visitor Center is worthy of a visit to learn more about the people who lived in these hills. From coastal Miwok native Americans to the men and women who manned the military bases and defenses of this area, the excellent interpretive facilities explain all in detail.

(415) 331-1540
Free... More

This non-profit organization opens its doors to the public at the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands to share in an understanding of the animals it cares for.

In addition to research and education programs, the center is directly responsible for caring for up to two thousand sick marine mammals each year, many of which are cared for at... More

27. Rodeo Beach

Popular with surfers and sunbathers alike, this sheltered Marin Headlands beach is a great location to hang out and enjoy the ocean shore.

28. Bunker Road Tunnel

Keep to the cycle lane on this single-track section of the road and there'll be plenty of space for both you and the cars. Head for the light at the end of the tunnel, and consider the 500ft of hill above you that this short-cut saves you the trouble of scaling!

29. Alternative: Sausalito & Ferry Return

Bear right at the junction and head up the short hill back to the Golden Gate Bridge. Or, you could cut your return journey short with an alternative 1.7 mile route to Sausalito, where you can catch a return ferry back to SF.

The alternative route takes you to the Sausalito ferry dock in just 1.7 miles, cutting 3.5 miles from your total journey ... More

At the former fishing village of Sausalito you’ll find a perfect place to browse the little boutique stores that line the bay-side road. Follow this up with refreshments or a meal at one of the many well regarded restaurants near the center of the town where you can also enjoy views of the San Francisco skyline across the water.

(415) 332-0505
... More

31. Sausalito Ferry Dock

Blue & Gold Fleet sails back to San Francisco's Pier 39 (Fisherman's Wharf) whilst the Golden Gate Ferry service returns to the San Francisco Ferry Building.

(415) 705-8200 | Blue & Gold Ferry website
(415) 455-2000 | Golden Gate Ferry website

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