Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Sights to See

Cliff House & Sutro Baths

For almost one hundred and fifty years, visitors have traveled to the Cliff House at the westernmost tip of San Francisco's coastline to experience the magnificent natural setting and to enjoy entertainment and seaside recreation. Today, the Cliff House is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the largest and most visited urban national parks in the world.

Changing Faces

There have been three different Cliff House structures since 1863, each with a unique story of its own. Over the years, the most recent Cliff House structure (1909) was incrementally modified and remodeled to reflect a variety of styles.

The National Park Service completed a comprehensive design plan and an environmental assessment for the Sutro District in 1993. Based on the recommendations from the plan, the National Park Service has begun to refurbish the Sutro District. This presented an opportunity to enhance the Cliff House structure, unveiling existing 1909 portions, strengthening the site-building relationship, and improving the overall efficiency of the facility.

Visiting the Cliff House & Sutro Baths

The Cliff House and Sutro Baths is located on the north end of Ocean Beach, where Geary Boulevard and the Great Highway converge.

For More Information

Presidio Visitor Center
(415) 561-4323

Milagra Ridge

Surrounded by urban development, Milagra Ridge forms what biologists call an island ecosystem. Here, wildlife is isolated from other habitats, feeding and migration corridors are compromised and exotic species can easily invade native habitat. Despite this isolation, Milagra Ridge hosts a surprising number of threatened and endangered species including Mission blue and San Bruno elfin butterflies and the California red-legged frog. Milagra's proximity to urban development, its limited size and its rare wildlife make it exceptionally sensitive to human disturbance. Therefore, visitors are required to stay on trails and pets must be leashed.

History

Native Ohlone people inhabited the land we now call Millagra Ridge and Pacifica for thousands of years. Their lives probably included seasonal harvesting of seeds, greens and fruits and harvesting local animals.

In the late 1700s, the Spanish missions of San Francisco de Asis established farms in the area, and the hills of Pacifica became part of Rancho San Pedro. Livestock grazing began a agricultural era that lasted until the mid-1900s. Artichokes were grown atop Milagra Ridge until 1938, and the furrows can still be seen today.

In the late 1930s, the United States Army aquired Milagra Ridge as part of a project to defend the San Francisco Bay. Several In 1948, 6-inch guns were mounted at Milagra Ridge, only to be removed between 1949 and 1950.

In 1956, Nike Missile Site SF-51 was established at Milagra Ridge. These surface-to-air missiles were protection against attacking aircraft during the Cold War. The site was converted to the nuclear-capable Nike-Hercules system in 1958. The entire area was fenced with barbed wire and patrolled by guards with trained dogs.

The National Guard managed the area from 1963 through 1974. The buildings were demolished, the launch elevators were buried, the asphalt was removed, and the site was given to the City of Pacifica as an open space park. In 1987, Milagra Ridge became a part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Restoration

The restoration of Milagra Ridge is a collaboration with nature to support the indigenous plants, animals and processes. Students from local high schools help restore indigenous plant habitat on Milagra Ridge, which in turn assists in the protection of the ridge's endangered species. Throughout the year they work in the Oceana Nursery and participate in every phase of the restoration cycle, from collecting seed to growing indigenous plants, and finally, to planting the young plants in the landscape.

Visiting Milagra Ridge

The entrance to Milagra Ridge is off of Sharp Park Road in Pacifica. From Highway 1, follow Sharp Park Road to the east, or from Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), follow Sharp Park Road to the west. Turn north on College Drive and continue about 1/4 mile to roadside parking at the Milagra Ridge gate.

For More Information

Site Stewardship Program
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
(415) 561-3034, ext. 3437
www.parksconservancy.org

Pacifica Visitor Center
Pacifica Chamber of Commerce
(650) 355-4122
www.pacificachamber.com

Please note: All pets must be leashed. Bicycles are permitted on the paved trail only. Land management of Milagra Ridge is shared with the North Coast Co. Water District, Pacifica, California.

Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita today is part of the largest urban national park in the United States, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A secret jewel of the Bay Area, Point Bonita is still an active lighthouse. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the lighthouse and the National Park Service provides access to visitors.

Point Bonita Lighthouse is reached by a halfmile trail that is steep in parts. Discover Point Bonita's wild landscape, geology and fascinating history. The tunnel halfway to the lighthouse is open only during visiting hours: Saturdays, Sundays & Mondays 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Visiting the Marin Headlands

From the North

• Take Hwy 101 southbound.
• Exit at second Sausalito exit, just before the Golden Gate Bridge.
• Bear right onto Alexander Avenue; proceed back under the freeway.
• Follow Alexander Avenue 0.2-miles; turn left onto Bunker Road.

From the South

• Take Hwy 101 northbound across the Golden Gate Bridge.
• Exit Alexander Avenue; bear right.
• Follow Alexander Avenue 0.2-miles; turn left onto Bunker Road.

Directions to Point Bonita Lighthouse

• On Bunker Road, pass through one way Baker-BarryTunnel.
• Follow Bunker Road 3-miles; turn left on Field Road.
• Follow Field Road 0.8-miles to Point Bonita parking lot and trailhead.
• Walk the 0.5-mile trail to the lighthouse.

For more information

Marin Headlands Visitor Center
Fort Barry, Building 948
Sausalito, CA 94965

(415) 331-1540


Fort Cronkhite

Located in the Marin Headlands, Fort Cronkhite is a former World War II military post that stands at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.Fort Cronkhite today is one of the few preserved examples of these World War II "mobilization posts" remaining in the country. The fort's barracks, mess halls, supply buildings, and other structures are preserved to tell the story of the soldiers who waited here for an enemy that never came.

Fort Cronkhite is also the location of Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo Beach. Trail heads that lead up into the Marin Headlands coast line and Battery Townsley begin here.

Fort Cronkhite is also home to many park partners, including the Marine Mammal Center, The Headlands Institute, the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and others.

Visiting the Marin Headlands

From the North

  • Take Hwy 101 southbound.
  • Exit at second Sausalito exit, just before the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Bear right onto Alexander Avenue; proceed back under the freeway.
  • Follow Alexander Avenue 0.2-miles; turn left onto Bunker Road.

From the South

  • Take Hwy 101 northbound across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Exit Alexander Avenue; bear right.
  • Follow Alexander Avenue 0.2-miles; turn left onto Bunker Road.

Directions to Fort Cronkhite

  • On Bunker Road, pass through one way Baker-BarryTunnel.
  • Follow Bunker Road 3-miles and continue pass Rodeo Lagoon. Head toward the ocean and Fort Cronkhite will be on your right-hand side.

For more information

Marin Headlands Visitor Center
Fort Barry, Building 948
Sausalito, CA 94965

(415) 331-1540

NIKE Missile Site

Welcome to SF-88!
An educational Cold War museum in the heart of GGNRA

During the tense years from 1953 to 1979, the United States Army built and operated a total of 280 Nike missile firing batteries in the United States. These missile sites were emplaced as the last line of defense against Soviet bombers. Today, a dedicated group of volunteers works in partnership with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area on the continuous task of restoration at site SF-88, which has been turned into a museum. This valuable historical resource is the only restored Nike missile site in the entire country. It's a great chance for you to see the tools of the Cold War up close.

You can visit SF-88 during the week, Wednesday through Friday, 12:30 to 3:30. A guided walk begins from the Testing and Assembly Building every half hour, with the last tour leaving at 3 p.m. On the guided walk you will be able to see the tools of the Cold War up close, and it includes an amazing trip down the missile elevator into the underground storage area.

On the first Saturday of every month the park holds an open house, where docents—some of them Nike veterans—tell stories about real life experience at Nike missile sites.

Visiting SF-88

SF-88 is open for visiting from Wednesday to Friday of every week as well as the first Saturday of every month. Visiting hours are from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The site is closed during wet weather for your safety. During the week, the site manager John leads periodic tours of the RADAR vans, the fueling area and the missile magazine. During the first Saturday of every month there is an open house with volunteers and Nike Veterans interpreting each of the areas on the base. There are also protection dog demonstrations during some open houses.

 

Mori Point

The diminutive yet brightly colored constrictor may at first inspire glances of fear, but they soon turn to stares of wonder. The San Francisco garter snake's bright orange head combined with dazzling black and red stripes is impressive enough, but the belly is washed with the most delicate turquoise. Once common in small marshes on the San Francisco peninsula, the snake has been reduced to a mere handful of individuals. Due to the draining and pollution of wetlands, and illegal poaching by collectors, this beautiful reptile is now more common in zoos than it is in the wild. The hope is to change that at Mori Point.

Located on a promontory just south of the city of Pacifica, the 105 acres of Mori Point are the newest acquisition of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. High up above the cold waves below, the site boasts sweeping views from Point Reyes all the way to Pedro Point. Mori's nature includes coastal bluffs, coastal prairie, and freshwater ponds which the snake needs to survive. The snake is a frog eater, and sticks close to the water. But when the ponds dry up in late summer the garter snake moves into upland grasslands, spending the winter in small mammal burrows.

The effort to preserve Mori Point is the story of community involvement and determination. For nearly two decades, various development proposals for the area were successfully opposed by Pacifica residents and environmental organizations. Instead of a condominium, a hotel, a convention center, or a casino, the site is instead home to red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes. Both of these species are protected under the Endangered Species Act. In an interesting twist of fate, the endangered garter snake's main prey item is the threatened red-legged frog. The California red-legged frog is the largest frog west of the continental divide, and was the feisty hero of Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Red-legged frogs are threatened by invasive species such as bullfrogs, as well as by pesticide pollution.

The site is managed by the Site Stewardship Program, a community based ecological restoration program with our park's supporting association, the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy. The GGPC is the largest park association in the National Park System, giving back more money to their park than any other. They also are more intimately involved in park management than any other association, working with natural and cultural resources stewardship and trail maintenance along with typical visitor center and education program duties.

Mori Point has been the site of many enterprises over the years. Originally part of the Spanish San Pedro Land grant, Spanish missionaries grew barley, corn and beans, and grazed cattle. The Mori family settled in Pacifica in the 1890s and began farming the land. By the 1920s the primary family business was the Mori Point Tavern, which became a much-loved drinking establishment through the Prohibition years. An alleged raid in 1923 resulted in the confiscation of 23,00 whiskey bottles by federal agents. In the following decades the tavern business declined, and the building eventually burned to the ground in 1966.

Since 2006 big changes have been occurring on the site including the creation of frog ponds for endangered red-legged frog habitat, and improvements to trails and visitor amenities. Invasive plants such as jubata grass have been removed, and thousands of native plants have been planted around the ponds. The Pacifica community is enjoying the site in a new way, while the word has gotten out to other park lovers that this is the new rare gem in our Golden Gate Parks.

Places to Go, Things to Do

Marin County (north of Golden Gate Bridge)

  • Bolinas Ridge
  • Fort Baker
  • Fort Cronkhite
  • Gerbode Valley
  • Kirby Cove
  • Marin Headlands
  • Muir Woods National Monument
  • Muir Beach
  • Muir Beach Overlook
  • Nike Missile Site
  • Olema Valley
  • Point Bonita Lighthouse
  • Stinson Beach
  • Tennessee Valley

San Francisco County (south of Golden Gate Bridge)

  • Alcatraz Island
  • Baker Beach
  • Battery Chamberlin
  • China Beach
  • Cliff House & Sutro Baths
  • Crissy Airfield
  • Crissy Field Marsh & Beach
  • Crissy Field Center
  • Fort Funston
  • Fort Mason
  • Fort Point National Historic Site
  • Lands End
  • Ocean Beach
  • Pacific West Regional Information Center
  • Presidio of San Francisco
  • Sutro Historic District

San Mateo County (south of SF)

  • Milagra Ridge
  • Mori Point
  • Phleger Estate
  • Sweeney Ridge