Above the Cliff House is a wonderful place for a hike: Land's End. There is something for everyone: views of the Golden Gate, nature, shipwrecks, and an old rail bed. I didn't spend time up there as a child, but I got to know it well when I worked at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital.
A week or two ago I went up to see the progress on the new Cliff House visitor center. The parking lot is finished, as are the new, flat trails connecting it to Land's End. I prefer to park up at Land's End. First stop is the U.S.S. San Francisco Memorial which honors those who died at Guadalcanal.
You can find photos of the monument being built and dedicated here.
If you are interested in the military, than head up hill and explore the bunkers of Fort Miley.
I'm going to intersperse some old postcard images from my collection. Take a look through the photos labeled "Land's End" in the S.F.P.L. collection, too.
My other goal was to take photos of the old restroom ruins. I think they are right below this foundation which is directly below the lovely new seating area on the recently upgraded trail.
I used to duck down under a certain tree a little further down the path and then cut back. However, I discovered that a lot of trees and brush have been cleared and native plant restoration is in process, leaving no "legal" access down the slope. So I continued east, and headed down the hill to see if I could find a lower place to cross over. It was really green in spots.
And brown in others, with wildflowers here and there.
The coolest thing I ever saw at Land's End was a red fox. I think that will be a once in a lifetime experience.
Mile Rock Lighthouse wasn't always an orange and white stump. Read more about it here.
Many ships have wrecked off the waters of Land's End (not to mention at Sutro Baths and along Ocean Beach). Notably two sister ships, the Frank S. Buck and Lyman Stewart, built side by side are buried side-by-side. Here is the engine block of the Stewart. That reminds me of a great local book: Shipwrecks at the Golden Gate, which I pulled out last time the King Philip was visible on Ocean Beach.
You can see these remains and others from the main trail. What is now a trail used to be a road "El Camino Del Mar", and before that it was a rail bed. In fact tourists came out not only to visit the beach and Sutro Gardens, but to see shipwrecks.
A subject for a whole 'nother post is the Ferries and Cliffhouse Railway which carried San Franciscans from downtown to the wilds of the Outsidelands. There is a fantastic movie filmed 1902 by Thomas Edison from the front of the train. If you watch it here there is a bit of history, as well as a frame by frame description. Note the tunnels. It is also available on YouTube:
The steam was later converted to streetcars.
You can continue the hike all the way to Eagle's Point, on the edge of the Lincoln Park Golf Course. Did you know that the Legion of Honor Museum and the golf course sit on a former cemetery? There are still some memorial stones on the golf course.
If you haven't spent anytime at Land's End I encourage you to do so. You will see and learn something new every time you visit. If you don't want to hike out and back you can catch the 18-46th Avenue bus at the Legion of Honor back down to the Cliff House.