This is the most iconic place to take a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. Parking is crazy in the tiny lot that hugs the side of the road, but it’s definitely worth a stop! To get to the look-out you have to take a 2 min walk up a hill where you arrive at the abandoned bunkers of Battery Spencer. It looks like a ghost town! These batteries were built in the 1890’s and active up until the end of WWII. Just beyond the battery is the look-out point for the bridge. This spot is above all the traffic and feels oddly close to the tower of the bridge- you get a close-up view of how massive this structure actually is!
Kirby Cove is the first accessible beach on your way into the Headlands and it has a grand view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s definitely the most tourist-y beach to visit in the Headlands, but you have to go if you’ve never been. I’ve never seen it crowded. Sharing the same little parking lot as Battery Spencer, you have to walk down a mile-long dirt road to arrive at the beach and picnic area. There is also a campground you can reserve and receive a gate code in order to drive down! Be warned, however, that the Battery Spencer parking lot is classically known to be a common car break-in spot. Just don’t park for a long period of time (overnight) or leave anything valuable in your car.
Further up the windy road is Hawk Hill! This is the highest look-out point of the Golden Gate Bridge and there’s plenty of parking. If you are a cyclist or a really fit tourist with a rental bike, you should definitely bike up this steep hill and ride the “headlands loop”! It’s one of my favorite rides in the Bay Area and it has an amazing descent on the other side of the hill! A lot of active people also choose to hike up to the top of Hawk Hill from the Golden Gate Bridge instead of drive. There are two spots that I suggest you check out here!
- Walk through the 1st tunnel at the North side of the parking lot. You exit the tunnel and then walk through a 2nd one! Here you arrive at Battery 129. If you keep walking you’ll eventually end up at an amazing staircase that overlooks the Headlands. If you feel like hiking down & up some stairs, there’s a cool path that winds down to the road below you.
- Another place you should check out is the summit of Hawk Hill. Head to the end of the parking lot and walk up the dirt path that leads you above the tunnels. There are some cool historic buildings here and a fun structure (Pictured above. I think it’s a helicopter landing pad?!) that I’ve always wanted to climb and do yoga on.
Thanks for reading Part 2 of Exploring the Marin Headlands series! Stay tuned for more! You won’t want to end your Headlands adventure here because all the coolest stuff is on the other side of the hill!! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!