Batteries to Bluff Trail

The Batteries to Bluffs Trail is a 2.2-mile widely traveled circular trail near San Francisco, California that contains stunning wildflowers and is suitable for hikers of all abilities.

The route is open all year and provides a variety of activities.

The Batteries to Cliffs Trail is a traditional San Francisco climb on the city’s western bluffs, rich in history and with classic, coastal views.

With a round-trip distance of 1.7 miles, it’s short enough to fit into your San Francisco sightseeing day, or even better, in the evening at sunset.

With wooden steps carved into the bluff, the hike is moderately steep. Views of the Golden Gate Bridge, ancient batteries, and isolated Marshall’s Beach are the rewards for your efforts.

The Presidio, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, includes the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.

Consider a dream hike in San Francisco: a trail overlooking the ocean with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a tranquil spot where you can relax and watch the waves crash, or a scenic route where you can get your morning workout while birds sing and flowers blossom.

This pathway does not need to be imagined; it may be found in the Presidio’s Batteries to Bluffs Trail.

Where do you Park for the Batteries at The Bluffs Trail?

The track starts and ends right next to Lincoln Boulevard, and you can start from either end.

Parking is available on the shoulder of Lincoln Boulevard near the trail’s southern end, although space is limited.

Instead, this path description begins at the Langdon Court parking lot, which is located at the path’s northern end.

The Golden Gate Overlook, as well as Batteries Godfrey, Boutelle, and Marcus Miller, are all within walking distance.

From the parking area, trails go to the batteries, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center (which has some nice souvenirs).

Park for the Batteries at The Bluffs Trail

Crissy Field Parking:

The walk to the bridge is longer, but there is more parking near Crissy Field’s western end.

Even when the lot is packed on sunny days and weekends, there are usually a few places available.

It’s free on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with a 3-hour restriction, but there are fees on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ($1.20 per hour, $7 all day; machine accepts credit cards and coins).

Fort Point Parking:

Along with the approach to Fort Point, there is a medium-sized lot with some parking spaces, as well as another large lot in front of the fort.

The spots sometimes fill up quickly, but if you wait, you should be able to acquire one soon.

Parking is free and there are no time limits, and the parking lot has a beautiful view of the bridge.

It’s a 20-minute climb to the bridge, with part of it being the stairs depicted above.

Welcome Center Parking:

The majority of people try to park here because it is close to everything and quite handy.

This is not a good idea. It is not only limited to two hours but it is also congested with automobiles and tour buses, with queues of cars waiting to park.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., parking is pay-to-park; 25 cents for 15 minutes, $2 for 2 hours, maximum of 2 hours parking. Credit cards, $1 bills, and coins are accepted, but change is not given.

Employee Parking:

There is a larger parking lot on Merchant Road, just west of the Toll Plaza, that is only available on weekends for a $5 flat price.

Because of its proximity to the bridge, this lot tends to fill up on weekends, and it serves as a weekend overflow lot for the more congested Welcome Center lot.

To get there, you can either drive under the bridge from the Welcome Center parking lot or from Lincoln Blvd on the other side.

However, a short distance further will get you to the free Merchant Road Lot.

Merchant Road Parking:

It’s just up Merchant Road from the bridge’s west side staff parking lot.

There is no charge for parking, although there is a four-hour time limit (though I doubt they have someone keeping track of how long people park there).

On nice days, it tends to fill up, though people come and go frequently. The bridge is only a few minutes away and offers some spectacular views.

It’s close to the Battery West remains and the cliff-side walkway that leads to the bridge.

Batteries to Bluffs Trail Map

How long is the Batteries to Bluffs Trail?

Begin your journey at the Golden Gate Overlook, which is located to the north.

Between two cypress trees, you’ll find a well-photographed perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The pathways leading down to Battery Godfrey and connecting to its northern battery neighbors can be seen from here.

When you’re ready, head south through Battery Godfrey to the southwest edge of the parking area, where you’ll find the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.

With overhanging pine trees and daisy-like aster, the dirt walk is flat and level.

The brick door you pass by is an ammo magazine, which houses the battery’s ammunition. At 0.3 mile, you’ll come to an overlook.

Marshall’s Beach is below, with the Golden Gate Bridge to the north and the Point Bonita Lighthouse to the west.

The serpentine, California’s state rock, is the blue-green tint you observe on the cliffs.

Return to the Batteries to Bluffs Trail when you’re ready. Because the route ends at Marshall’s Beach, you’ll have to ascend 250 feet to reach the path’s finish at Lincoln Boulevard.

I’ve categorized the elevation gain as 500 feet because there are ups and downs on this pendulum-swing climb.

Cumulative gain compares the difference between the highest and lowest points on the trail to net gain, which quantifies the difference between the highest and lowest points on the trail. On the Coastal Trail, I started at the bridge viewing area.

With all of the wildflowers nearby wild mustard, wild radish, thistle, and so on — now is an exceptionally ideal time to stroll this and other paths. The east trailhead is a short distance from Langdon, just off Lincoln Blvd.

The west trailhead is roughly 0.7 miles away, at the top of Battery Crosby. From the battery, a short walk goes up to Lincoln.

As you look down from Lincoln, you can see more of the BTB now that several trees have been cut and removed.

There is an alternate trail that leads directly to the Batteries to Bluffs west trailhead from Lincoln.

This was done today; there were several tree roots to go over and one tough point. Take it easy here. On one side of the trail, a weak fence zigzags.

The Batteries to Bluffs trail is largely wood steps with a few short paths in between (no railings save on one side of the small footbridge).

The final step down from the footbridge is now quite steep; it wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of additional steps were put here in the future. The vista must be seen to be believed, particularly on a clear, sunny day.

Bring your camera, but note that dogs are not permitted on this trail. Today I counted 339 steps from the west trailhead to View Point, a viewpoint with a bench.

There is a smaller pathway (approximately 48 steps) that leads down to quiet Marshall’s Beach from the main Batteries to Bluffs walk.

The west trailhead is toward the top of the Sand Ladder, above Baker Beach (approximately 253 steps from Lincoln to Baker Beach).

From Lincoln, you may also reach the Connector Trail, a lengthy wood stair that leads to Immigrant Point Overlook and Rob Hill Campground (about 208 steps).

The foot of the Connector Trail can easily be seen as it ascends from the crosswalk on the south side of Lincoln; good info signs and trail markings can be found throughout the park.

How do I get to Marshall Beach?

Marshall’s Beach is a secluded beach in San Francisco with breathtaking views. Although this beach is the closest to the Golden Gate Bridge, few people visit or even know it exists.

Marshall’s Beach is a little beach, only approximately 1000 feet long, but it feels private and uncrowned because so few people visit.

There are a few people walking up and down the trail on a nice bright afternoon, but the beach is otherwise deserted.

Except for a couple of naked sunbathers. It’s a short walk down to the beach along with the Batteries to Bluffs pathway.

The walk is made up of both robust wooden stairs and dirt walkways that are quite flat. There’s nothing particularly slick or steep.

The dirt trails can be muddy and slippery after a storm, but it’s otherwise a well-kept track.

Only on the way up does the hike appear to belong. However, while you’re resting, you can take in the scenery.

The Golden Gate Bridge is right there, and you can see the Marin Headlands across the river and part of Baker Beach to the south from the route.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the closest beach at this location.

However, getting to the beach takes some effort. The walk down to the beach from the bluffs is long, and the climb back up is a great challenge! It is, nonetheless, worthwhile.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to Baker Beach in the south, the Batteries to Bluffs Track is a popular hiking trail that travels along the cliffs.

A deviation branching off the main trail about halfway down the trail leads down to Marshall’s Beach.

The trailheads are the starting points. There are two trailheads for the Batteries to Bluffs along Lincoln Blvd: one is near the bridge and the other is further south, immediately off Langdon Court (aka Overlook) parking lot.

You can start at either end of the Batteries to Bluffs walk to get to the beach, but it’s much easier to start at the northern end (closer to the Golden Gate Bridge).

The northern end is significantly closer to a parking lot as well as bus stops. It’s difficult to get parking near the trail’s southern end (there are only a few spots along the road), so you’d have to park at Baker Beach.

That would entail walking a little distance down the beach to the sand ladder, ascending the ladder all the way up to the road to reach the Batteries to Bluffs trailhead, and then descending a long, steep flight of stairs to Marshall’s Beach.

The hike would take at least three times as long and include much more difficult climbing.

How long is Bay Area Ridge Trail?

The Bay Area Ridge Trail is a 550-mile multi-use loop that encircles San Francisco Bay’s highest and often most picturesque spots.

The public has access to 340 miles of the loop, including the 2.5-mile part that runs through the Presidio.

The San Francisco Bay Trail, the Golden Gate Bridge Trail, and the Presidio Trail all pass through the Presidio on their way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail begins at Arguello Gate and follows the northern perimeter of Presidio Golf Course, eventually merging with the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and the California Coastal Trail.

It comes to a close near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Along the journey, there’s a lot to see and do. Indeed, because there are so many different things to see, such as the Presidio’s forest, three scenic overlooks, and several must-see historic and cultural points of interest,

such as Spire, artist Andy Goldsworthy’s striking 100-foot sculpture made of felled Monterey cypress trunks, this trail may be ideal for those who enjoy variety.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail also passes through Rob Hill Campground, the Presidio’s lone campground, which is located on four acres at the park’s highest point.

Trails in the Bay Area are well-used by a wide range of recreationists.

While parts of the more distant parts are almost entirely used by trekkers, many of the paths are also open to bicycles and horseback riders.

Notes:

  • There are no restrooms in the Langdon Court parking lot. The closest are across Lincoln Boulevard from the Langdon Court parking lot at Fort Scott Field.
  • Parking is free at Langdon Court parking lot, and there is no entrance fee to hike the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.
  • You can also park along Lincoln Boulevard south of the Batteries to Bluffs Trail here. Space is limited.
  • Dogs are not allowed on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.

PARKS: Presidio of San Francisco

DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

LENGTH: 0.70 miles round-trip