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Urban hike in San Francisco, from Ferry Plaza to Fort Point

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Kites at Marina Greens

Marina Greens; Click for a photos from this hike ...

Choose a day that isn’t too cold. Start the walk from  Ferry Plaza. If you start on a Saturday, you will be able to pick up your lunch from the Farmer’s market. When you are done exploring Ferry Plaza, start walking westwards and stay as close to the bay as possible. Many of these piers offer pedestrian walkways. The route is unmistakable, so there is little to no chance of getting lost. If you are planning on completing the hike, plan on walking about 10-12 miles and spending anywhere between 3-6 hours.

Here is what you will see on this hike – San Francisco skyline from several vista points, sailboats dotting the sea, yachts moored at the harbors, large container ships crossing underneath the Golden Gate bridge, kites doing acrobatic maneuvers by the marina, kids playing in big or small groups, people of all ages sunbathing or jogging, couples of all genders holding hands or kissing, buildings with military architecture – extensions of Presidio. In spring, you will see Crissy Field in a wildflower bloom.

Gas House Cove near Fort Mason

Gas House Cove near Fort Mason

While walking by the Piers, peek into the offices located in the warehouse buildings. Many of them are inside shipping containers. Offices inside shipping containers inside warehouse buildings – the whole thing is begging to be transformed into an architectural haven. Some of the piers are weather beaten and add a bit of naturalness to the otherwise popular touristy spot.

I am glad that Musee Mecanique moved to Fisherman’s Wharf. Here it gets the number of visitors it deserves. Museums can sometimes exude the feeling of stillness and death. Not here, the cacophony of the coin operated toys keeps this place lively. And it is heartening to see that Wii and PlayStation haven’t taken the joy out of these old contraptions. The old juke boxes are delightful. Laffing sal, a toy of 1930s, is imposing from her pedestal, and scary when she laughs with her bosom threatening to suffocate you with its rhythmic upheavals. And don’t miss naughty Marietta on the hand cranked animated picture machine. Well, it is not too naughty really, not even by the standards of early 1900s, but is is something that Great Grandpa would have sneaked a peek at when no one was looking.

At the end of Hyde street, you can walk on to the wooden decks where sailboats are moored. This is the backside of the Fisherman’s Wharf, so the views are fantastic. Except for the moored boats and an occasional local walking his dog, it will be solitary. But not quiet – these decks creek and groan and wobble with the waves. If you want a cheap boat ride of the Bay, look out for individual boat owners on Jefferson between Taylor and Jones.

Sunbathing at Aquatic Park

Sunbathing at Aquatic Park

At Aquatic Park, you will often see hardcore athletes in body suits, presumably keeping up with the swimming part of their triathlon practice. Where Van Ness meets McDowell, the road starts to climb upwards. It is start of Fort Mason. From the little height, the first view of the fort against the Golden Gate bridge is exciting. Sometimes, looking back you can catch a glimpse of the huge container ships against the C shaped walkway that marks the boundary of the aquatic park. When I see these container ships, I imagine Michael Palin running around, on the ship deck – these ships are not too different from the ones he went with in 1988 in “Around the world in 80 days”. Don’t miss the little gadget at the top of the hill from where you can see the sag of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crissy Field is pride of San Franciscans – it is a wasteland turned into park. Sometimes it can be a bit too cold and often it is too crowded. If the wind doesn’t blow sand in your eyes, you will be able to see the native vegetation of San Francisco and walk all the way to Fort Point. Alternately, if you like rock climbing, you can step into Planet Granite for a few hours and enjoy their beautiful climbing walls for a very reasonable fee. Or watch pros doing so for free.

Tcho Chocolates

Tcho Chocolates

Somewhere along the walk, step into Tcho chocolate house, located at Pier 17, and enjoy a cup of Blue Bottle coffee with their delectable chocolates of single origin that taste of fruits and nuts.

For more photos of what you will see on this walk, click here.

5 Responses

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  1. I like it when people get together and share views. Great website,
    continue tthe good work!


    July 27, 2015 at 11:00 pm

  2. […] is special. If you are the type who loves long hikes, urban or otherwise, check out our Ferry Plaza to Fort Point hike – the best urban hike San Francisco has to offer.  For a shorter and almost equally […]

  3. […] taste of their chocolates was on a walk along Embarcadero and we were impressed. On that occasion, we had picked up a small pack of 8 tasting squares. On […]

  4. […] enough of the history. Why should you go there now? Walking along Embarcadero, from Ferry Plaza to Fort Point is a fantastic urban hike. It is all about the glorious views of the Bay with people watching […]

  5. I searched for ‘Triathlon Photos’ and found your site – well done!


    June 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

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