San Francisco’s trademark bridge is worth the walk for its epic views of the bay and city skyline. This local’s guide for walking the Golden Gate Bridge will give you eight practical tips (like parking and bridge hours) along with four route options that showcase the bridge from different angles.
The Golden Gate Bridge is iconic not only for its distinctive red color but also for its stunning location. It’s perched at the mouth of the bay, providing a gateway to the Pacific and connecting SF with the rest of Northern California. The pop of red and graceful Art Deco design are in striking contrast to the national park lands located on either side of it. In fact, it’s called the “Golden Gate” because of the golden hillsides that characterize the Marin Headlands to the north of the bridge.
The bridge is visible from nearly everywhere in SF, muscling itself into the skyline like a persistent photo bomber. But don’t just admire it from afar, you can also get close-up by strolling the bridge This guide for how to walk the Golden Gate Bridge is informed by my own experience as a local. I never tire of those views and after your inaugural stroll on the bridge, you won’t either.
In fact, if you are keen to do a photography shoot of the bridge or just want to see it from every angle, check out this guide to 14 awesome Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints.
This article starts by answering some commonly asked questions about how to walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, further down, I offer four routes for doing the bridge walk.
Read More: In addition to walking the bridge, this complete guide will help you other logistics for how to visit the bridge.
(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)
Top Tips for Walking the Golden Gate Bridge
How Long is the Golden Gate Bridge?
It’s 1.7 miles one way from the Welcome Center on the south end to the vista point lookout on the north end. If you just go to the end of the bridge, but not all the way to the north side vista point, then it’s 1.3 miles one way. Check out this article on Golden Gate Bridge facts to learn more tidbits like how and when it was built and why Hollywood movies love blowing it up.
How Long Does it Take to Walk the Golden Gate Bridge?
To do the full 3.4 mile round trip, would take ~1 hour at a brisk pace and closer to 2 hours if you are stopping for pictures and to admire the view. Obviously, we recommend the slower pace, otherwise you are missing the whole point of walking the bridge.
Are Dogs Allowed on the Bridge?
Alas, no. If you are looking for a dog-friendly hike with some bridge and ocean views, we recommend the nearby Lands End hike.
Are there Pedestrian Hours for the Bridge?
Yes. Pedestrians are allowed to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge according the following schedule:
–During Standard Time (usually later November to early March), the bridge is open to pedestrians daily from 5am-6:30pm.
–During Daylight Savings Time (usually later March to early November), the bridge is open to pedestrians weekdays from 5am-8pm and weekends from 5am-9pm.
Can You Ride a Bike on the Bridge?
Yes. On weekdays after 3:30pm and on the weekends, the bikes use the west side sidewalk. However at other times, pedestrians have to share the east side walkway with the bikes, so be alert.
What Side of the Bridge Can You Walk On?
On the bridge itself, pedestrians are confined to the east side walkway. But there are several ancillary trails worth exploring, which are mentioned below.
Are There Bathrooms at the Bridge?
Yes. There are public restrooms at both the Welcome Center and the Vista Point.
How Do You Get to the Golden Gate Bridge?
On the Bus: If you want to take public transportation to the bridge, catch one of the following bus routes to the south end Welcome Center: From downtown and Union Square (101, 30, 70) or from Civic Center (101, 30,70, 92, 93). $2.25 one way.
By Uber: An Uber from downtown to the Welcome Center will cost ~$17-20 one way.
On a Sightseeing Bus: You can combine a trip to the bridge with other sightseeing using a hop on hop off pass. It will takes you on the tourist trail throughout the city. The bus stops at both the Welcome Center and the Vista Point so you can walk the bridge as a one-way. This kind of pass is only worth it if you also want to have an action packed day visiting further flung spots like Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury. Otherwise, just take a city bus or an Uber.
By Car: There is a small pay parking lot at the Welcome Center and a larger one just down the hill at Battery East. There is also a free parking lot at the Vista Point on the north end. Use this guide to find all of the Golden Gate Bridge parking lots.
Four Cool Routes for the Bridge Walk
When most people think of walking the Golden Gate Bridge, they are just thinking of the pedestrian walkway on the bridge itself. But if you are up for doing some additional mileage, you can take a hike to the bridge from one of several connecting pathways. These extended routes gives you more opportunity to see the bay, the Pacific and the bridge itself from different angles.
1. The Classic Walk
The classic, and most popular way to to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge is to start at the Welcome Center at the south end of the bridge. From there, it’s 1.7 miles (one way) across the bridge to the Vista Point on the other side. There are some very nice views of San Francisco from the Vista Point. However, you don’t have to go all the way to have a nice stroll. Simply walk as far or as long as you want and then turn around.
2. From Baker Beach on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail
This option is nice if you are interested in creeping around some of SF’s old military bunkers. And by starting at Baker Beach, you can check out one of the nicest beaches in San Francisco. It’s got a wide sand beach and great views of the bridge in the distance. From the beach, walk up to the bluffs and take the Batteries to Bluffs Trail east toward the bridge. Cross under the bridge to the Welcome Center and then continue walking on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Distance to the south end Welcome Center: 1 mile
Distance to the north end Vista Point: 2.7 miles
There is some parking at Baker beach, but public transportation would probably be more convenient. From downtown, take the 38BX or the 1 to 25th St. Transfer to the 29 and get off at Bowley.
3. From Crissy Field on the Battery East Trail
Crissy Field was once a 1920’s military airfield that is actually older than our Air Force. Over the past 20 years, it has been painstakingly reverted to it’s natural tidal marsh state and is now a popular waterfront park. Just west of Crissy Field is Fort Point, which is a civil war-era brick fort and National Historic site. Start in Crissy Field, detour down to to the fort and then backtrack up the Battery East Trail.
This trail heads up to the top of the bluff with stops for seeing more battery gun emplacements. This routing is also cool because you get interesting views of the bridge infrastructure from below. Once at the welcome center, carry on across the bridge.
Distance to the south end Welcome Center: 1.8 miles
Distance to the north end VIsta Point: 3.5 miles
There is a fairly large pay lot at Crissy field. To get there by bus from downtown, take the PresidiGo shuttle to the Main Post. Or take the 30 bus to the Sports Basement near Crissy Field.
4. Across the Bridge into Downtown Sausalito
This walk assumes that you start at the south end Welcome Center. But rather than turning around, you keep walking over the Golden Gate Bridge, down to Fort Baker and then into Sausalito. From there, you can catch a ferry back to San Francisco. The advantage of this routing is that you can wander around historic Fort Baker, you get great views of Angel Island, and you can finish up with a nice lunch and a cold one in Sausalito.
If you chose this particular walk across the Golden Gate bridge, do not Google map the route. It will send you down Alexander Avenue, which is a very busy road that doesn’t have proper sidewalks. Rather, you should take the more pedestrian and bike-friendly Conzelman Road.
To get there, take the pedway under the bridge to the west side Conzelman Road trailhead parking lot. Take Conzelman south and downhill, passing through a car barrier. Then wind down, under the bridge, past the pier and into the fort. Then take East Road around the peninsula before you connect with Alexander for a short stint before heading into Sausalito proper.
Distance from the Welcome Center to the ferry dock: 4.8 miles
Taking a Golden Gate Bridge Tour
You can also explore more of the bridge by taking a tour. You can go on the bridge on a bike tour which takes you into Sausalito and then back to SF on the ferry. You can go under the bridge with a sunset cruise (highly recommend- drinks + sea spray). Or you can soar high above the bridge in a private helicopter tour.
However you do it, be sure to enjoy your bridge walk and make sure your phone has a lot of battery juice, because you are going to want to take a lot of pictures. Have fun and happy trails!
Plan Your Trip to SF
Save time planning your trip to SF with these insanely useful links:
- Find the best areas to stay in SF.
- Figure out how to get from SFO airport to downtown SF.
- Or, if you are driving, score a deal on a car rental.
- Go beyond the obvious tourist sites by purchasing one of our recommended San Francisco guidebooks. They cover urban hikes, foodie spots, self-guided walking tours and even an urban atlas.
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