Marin Headlands is where you will find the postcard picture of the Golden Gate Bridge-
There is no better place in San Fran to watch as the sun sinks into the sea, encouraging the evening fog to roll in through the mountains and blanket the evening city- its pretty incredible, but don’t just rely on my words- judge for yourself…
Again, I would mostly use my bike to get here- but there are also buses that will stop just off the freeway and at Sausalito- one of the most quaint and desirable places overlooking the San Fran harbour.
Climbing up over the bridge, the first stop-off is the most populate Battery Spencer;
Here you will be greeted by a plethora of budding photographers and their various camera set-ups, particularly if you are making the visit at dusk or dawn- Quick tip- (it gets pretty damn busy and near impossible to find parking spots to catch the sunset (particularly at weekends), so if travelling by car don’t leave it too late and if you get a spot keep it and walk to other lookouts rather than keep driving.)
There were some pretty interesting set-ups to be observed- groups of people with mechanical motors to generate moving time-lapse photos, swinging camera tripods and there was a guy with some sort of flying device that cradled a small camera- All were engineered to give the best and most iconic shot of the sunset across the Bridge.
But for me there is no camera technique that captures the spectacular and enchanting sea fog that sometimes dwindles in as the evening cools. It really is a phenomenon that is stunning to experience first hand…
Battery Spencer is the closest view to the bridge, but if you continue further upward the views are even more rewarding.
From Hawk Hill, (the highest point in the Headlands) it is possible to have complete, undisturbed 360 panoramic views; With the city and the Harbour to one side, the endless Pacific Ocean to the other and in the Distance, Mount Tam and the San Andreas Ridge line.
A much more quiet and secluded spot than Hawk Hill, this is my preferred and spot to watch the sun drift into the ocean and the city lights begin their nightly shift.
Sunset at Hawk Hill
° ° °
To truly experience the Headlands one shouldn’t be encouraged to only visit at sunset, but make a day and even a night of it. If camping out or bike riding through the valleys and moors under moonlight (see biking in San Francisco post) is not to your taste then there is also a Hostel to accommodate.
Although I never actually stayed in the hostel, I have read only good reviews and in truth it would be hard for it disappoint as it is located right at the heart of the Headlands beauty.
During the day Rodeo beach is a popular local surfing spot and a welcoming retreat from the bustling city only 15 minutes to the South.
The Headlands also convey some of the most incredible hikes right along the cliff edges of the Pacific Peninsula and up into the higher valley ridges.
Walking along these dirtpaths it is perfectly common to bump into families of deer, sheep and less commonly wild cats, particularly as the sun begins to fade.
The Peninsula is riled with rows of large battery arsenals that used to contain huge artillery guns to protect the threat of any Pacific based, just off the coast of China, invaders. Although most are internally shut off, some of these batteries stretch for up to a kilometer into the hillside and would once of contain thousands of army platoons, tanks and missiles- to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if many still do secretly contain such arm-power- it is America after all.
° ° °
In conclusion, make a day of it- head to the beach, take a hike along the coast, explore the batteries and finish up at either Hawk Hill or Spencer Battery for the best sunset the city has to offer. Marin Headlands provides some of the best treasures that San Francisco has to offer, so discover them!!