America's Best Urban Hike

Hike San Francisco's Grand Walk, Sutro Baths to Crissy Field

Many years ago we dubbed it the “Grand Walk” and said it was one of the most scenic and stunning trails in the West. We were wrong. This is the most scenic urban hike in America! San Francisco’s 6-mile Coastal Trail from Sutro Baths to Crissy Field is a tour de force of views and iconic highlights from start to finish, and plenty of stairs to boot!

Start at the ghostly Sutro Baths, with postcard vistas of the Cliff House, sea stacks, and the rollicking Pacific. Head up the stairs and continue on the trail through Lands End as the Golden Gate Bridge quickly comes into view, your North Star for the journey as it’s visible nearly the entire hike.

Detours are a must on this walk, like the one leading to Mile Rock Beach and the popular large labyrinth dramatically perched at the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Golden Gate. The trail features several wooden and natural steps undulating along the coast.

People walking th labyrinth in San Francisco near Mile Rock Beach

You’ll pass through swanky Sea Cliff, following the residential sidewalks to a less-known backdoor route to popular Baker Beach. Walk the strand the full distance (where you may also see some full moons—nudists sometimes roam these parts) before ascending the 243-step Sand Ladder, a total thigh-burner, with—ironically—more breathtaking views!

Next up: the Batteries to Bluffs Trail and spectacular Battery Crosby, perhaps the best stretch of this hike, with wooden stairs leading up and down to classic coastal scenery. Definitely detour to secluded Marshall’s Beach (practically empty on a late afternoon) and take a seat on some driftwood—the Golden Gate seems close enough to touch. You’ll have to climb back up again and follow the batteries to that big orange bridge. Go under it, through a fun tiny tunnel, to sidestep the tourists and bicycles, and continue on to Fort Point. Now you’re east of the bridge and things get busier. But ditch the people and walk the final stretch along Crissy Field’s beach. Waves gently lapping, Alcatraz’s lighthouse blinking, and the Golden Gate Bridge looming.

For a less crowded experience, do this hike late day, and time it so you finish at sunset. This is a point-to-point hike. There’s parking at Sutro Baths or Crissy Field. We recommend walking it west to east. It’s straightforward, with the only navigation being through Sea Cliff. When exiting Lands End, you’ll be on El Camino Del Mar. Follow it east, and veer left onto Sea Cliff Ave. when it forks. Turn left on 25th Ave. north, which leads to an entrance to Baker Beach. Walk on Baker Beach all the way to the Sand Ladder at the eastern end. Take this up to the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. When you cross under the bridge, follow the signs to Fort Point and Crissy Field. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Up Umunhum

    Rising from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is one of the Bay Area’s highest points, reaching an impressive 3,486 feet. With the new 7.4-mile (round-trip) addition to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, locals can finally step up to its peak.

    View
  2. Cross It Off Your Bucket List

    Crosstown Trail San Francisco may be one of the most beautiful city walks in America, passing through less-visited nooks and crannies while also taking in greatest hits, including mosaic stairways.

    View
  3. Kirby Your Enthusiasm

    Just west of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin is one of the Bay's most-accessible secluded beaches. Kirby Cove is accessed by hiking or biking a 1-mile fire road down to the beach, where the reward is an all-time classic Golden Gate view.

    View
  4. Napa's Wild Side

    It’s wine country’s Amazon. Cutting 50 miles through the famous Napa Valley and emptying into San Pablo Bay, the gentle Napa River is an ecological—and recreational—delight. And Napa Valley Paddle helps you enjoy it.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Weekend Sherpa Podcast: Take it Outside

    Adventure for your earbuds. What's new in the world of the outdoors? Listen to Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss local hikes, beaches, bike rides, camping spots and all kinds of travel and adventure in California and beyond!

    View
  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

    View
  3. Secluded Royale

    Panoramic coastal views and a killer leg workout combine on this 2.7-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike to secluded Coast Royale Beach in Orange County

    View
  4. Border Field State Park

    Border Field State Park is the southernmost point in California as well as one of the last beautiful undeveloped coastlines in the state. Visit this natural refuge for a 4.5-mile hike featuring important history and wildlife habitats, plus stunning SoCal beach scenery.

    View