Lands End - Trail Running

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Summary

Epic is a word often overused these days, but a trail run through the fog and filtered sunlight at Lands End is a worthy description. The wide main trail, which is paved concrete at one end but then transitions to dirt, weaves through twisted cypress trees and wildflowers, providing spectacular views of Mt. Tamalpais, the Marin Headlands, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Written by

Blane Bachelor

Distance

3.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

5.0 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

0 hours

30-60 minutes.

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Epic is a word often overused these days, but a trail run through the fog and filtered sunlight at Lands End is a worthy description. The wide main trail, which is paved concrete at one end but then transitions to dirt, weaves through twisted cypress trees and wildflowers, providing spectacular views of Mt. Tamalpais, the Marin Headlands, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, as waves crash on the rugged coastline below. On the 3-mile out-and-back Coastal Trail, several sets of stairs get the blood pumping and the quads screaming, but the views more than make up for any discomfort.

What Makes It Great

It’s hard to believe that, within city limits, trail runners have access to a route that takes them, literally, to the land’s end—the edge of the continent, in fact. Beyond the terrific views, San Francisco history and flavor is found at every turn.

Not surprisingly, Lands End is a popular destination for tourists as well as locals, so expect crowds on weekends. For a more serene experience, try to visit during the week, in the morning. You won’t have tourists clogging the trail, but you will have fog drifting in from the Pacific that adds a dreamy, ethereal vibe.


At about the halfway point of the trail, you can take a short path to the shore to wander the evocative ruins of Sutro Baths, a large public bathhouse constructed in 1896 that served the community until 1966, when the building burned down. And be sure to check out the memorial to the USS San Francisco, a WWII cruiser that sustained 45 hits and 25 fires during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and the newly renovated overlook nearby. At the West Fort Miley batteries, a grassy picnic area sits among three turn-of-the-century gun emplacements. And, on a clear day, you can even spot glimpses of several shipwrecks in the Pacific. Keep an eye out for them at the Mile Overlook, located at the end of the paved segment of the Coastal Trail.

Who is Going to Love It

Lands End is an ideal urban trail for runners looking for a quick workout before (or after work), as well as great spot for visitors to get a taste of San Francisco’s rugged coastline. Although not overly technical, part of the trail is dirt, with some quad-burning sections of stairs. It’s not ideal for longer runs, but for taking in the sensational scenery and burning some quick calories, it can’t be beat.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

While Lands End encompasses a number of smaller trails and open space, the main Coastal Trail leads runners and hikers on a 3-mile out-and-back trail from the parking lot trailhead to Eagle’s Point. A convenient place to take the trail is from the parking lot just off Point Lobos Avenue; from there, walk north until you hit the trailhead. If this lot is full, you can turn north onto El Camino Del Mar, where there is a larger parking lot. Grab a map from the newly renovated visitor’s center, called Lands End Lookout.

Lands End is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; no fees or permits are required to explore it.

Location

Lands End

680 Point Lobos Ave.
San Francisco, CA, 94121
37.779676, -122.51093

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