There’s less to be said about this walk than the others – although it was just as memorable an experience. Or two.
1. Bus to Marin Headlands, back over the Bridge to the city on foot
At the start of my first visit in 1997, I felt I just had to see the Golden Gate Bridge up close. I caught the bus from the city across to the north side of the bridge. Passing under the busy road, I found a path cutting diagonally up the hillside that forms the most prominent of the Marin Headlands. It was in the shade at first, zig-zagging up, then crossing over to join another trail in the sunshine on the top of the ridge. Turning left, I walked along and down the ridge with views across grassy slopes. There were great views opening up of the bridge, with the city behind it, and I managed to prop up my camera on an old ruined wall to get a photo of myself with this famous setting.
Then I headed down to the road and spent a bit of time around the ruined fortifications, with even more dramatic views of the sunlit bridge framing the skyscrapers behind it.
Then I ran south across the bridge, passing other runners heading in the other direction. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on foot is easy enough, but it just feels so great! It's one of those places you just want to see and feel under your feet - a bit like the Great Wall of China.
On the other side, I half ran, half walked along the shoreline to Fisherman's Wharf (see the City Highlights story) and then through the city to grab some fast food, gaze up at the gigantic skyscrapers, and then catch a BART train back to Berkeley. Total distance, around 9 miles (14 km), but you could easily restrict it to about 3 miles if you caught a bus back from the south end of the bridge.
2. Walking across the bridge from the south, over Marin Headlands to Sausalito, and taking the ferry back
On a later visit with a colleague, we took the bus to the southern end of the bridge where there's a visitor centre, and walked north across it, then onto the Marin Headlands. This time we followed trails to the north, then joined a minor road, passing a series of designer houses with panoramic views looking down across the Bay. Then a trail descended to a bridge across the highway, and into the suburban wooded streets of Sausalito. A path descended steeply to the centre of town, beside the harbour. The walk was less than 5 miles (8km) in total, taking about 2 hours at an easy pace with only one short climb at the north end of the bridge. We had time to browse around the shops, and then caught a ferry back across the Bay via Tiburon (a small town on the end of a peninsula) and past Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a fitting end to another spectacular trip.
Either of these options is well worth the effort. The bridge itself is a little over a mile long - around 2 km - rather less than the Tay Bridge in Dundee, and lots of other people go out to walk or run across the bridge. At the time of the second visit (2000) it was under renovation, being retrofitted to withstand severe earthquakes. There is a network of hiking trails on the Marin Headlands, leading out to Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais, with regular buses so it's easy to get there and back.
Contributed by: Andrew Llanwarne
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On the Marin Headlands, with the bridge and city behind
Looking north from the bus stop towards the Marin Headlands