Batteries to Bluffs Trail (San Francisco Presidio)

Let’s admit it. The mobs of tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf and the flocks of suburban high school girls at Union Square can get overwhelming. You want to enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer, but you would love to skip the crowds (and parking fees and overpriced bottles of water).

Looking for a touristy place to take my visiting college friends, I looked no further than Yelp to find just what I needed. Knowing that San Francisco has great outdoor activities, I decided to look up the people’s choice for hiking trails. As I weighed my options, one trail kept appearing: the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.

An easy drive from the Bay Bridge, we eventually arrived at a parking lot located on Langdon Court, nestled beside Battery Godfrey. Although the lot was small, there were plenty of spaces available, and best of all? The parking was free. We gathered up our gear and headed to the top of the battery, where we were met with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge to our right, and Baker Beach down the coast to our left.

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After catching our breath, we began our journey along the trail. Beginning on top of the mountain – or more like a cliff – the trail eventually slows down to the first flight of wooden stairs. The trail continues, alternating between stairs and a dirt path, with constant views of the Bridge and Baker Beach. Although this is a great trail for walking and even running, it is nearly impossible to have a bike on this trail, due to the amount of stairs and the narrow nature of the path. Since it has so many staircases, the path seems rather short. Eventually, you will reach Battery Crosby, which can serve as a nice resting spot if you want to continue to another trail. We took the path up to the Coastal Trail that is parallel to Lincoln Blvd, turning right at the next trail opening to the “Sand Ladder.” It was indeed a ladder made of stairs that were covered with sand, as well as many little lizards who were enjoying the sunshine.

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We eventually made it to the beach, where we found a spot with many pebbles and rocks that we could skip into the ocean. Keep in mind that Baker Beach can also be considered a nude beach. Whether you like to strip it all off, or wish to block the eyes of your innocent children, the beach is large enough to have a spot for everyone – and a spot with prime views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Once we were done, we took the path closest to Battery Chamberlain, which led us up to the Coastal Trail alongside Lincoln Blvd. We skipped the entry back to the Batteries to Bluffs Trail and chose to go straight down the path, which led us right back to the parking lot. We grabbed our picnic lunches and sat atop Battery Godfrey, taking in the gorgeous views of the ocean.

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If you’re looking for a bathroom, just head down the trail that leads toward the bridge. It will take you to the Visitor’s Center where you can use the public restrooms. Whether you want a peaceful hike for yourself or a place to take the family, the Batteries to Bluffs Trail is a wonderfully cheap way to enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer.

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