San Mateo Section 1
Fort Funston, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to Mussel Rock City Park, Daly City
Even though the long beach on this walk borders a major urban area, it seems nearly as remote and distant from city bustle as a deserted island. The beach walk follows the base of high, steep eroding cliffs. Although houses perch on the cliff top, the beach usually draws only a few solitude seekers.
After a visit to the Fort Funston Environmental Education Center or a look at the hang gliders soaring gracefully just off the cliff edge taking advantage of the strong winds around the high cliffs, find the sandy trail near the west end of the Education Center buildings. The trail meanders south and west as it drops 200 feet down the dunes. At the bottom at ¼ mile, you come to the Phillip Burton Memorial Beach, named for the legendary congressman who sponsored the Golden Gate National Recreation Area enabling legislation in the 1970s.
As you walk south on the beach, the cliff gets higher, more unstable and eroded, soon towering 400 feet. The cliff looks unstable because the San Andreas Rift Zone comes onto the beach just north of Mussel Rock, causing extreme uplifting of the land. Most visitors north of Mussel Rock are surf fishermen seeking striped bass.
As you approach Mussel Rock at 3¾ miles, riprap at the top of the beach shores up the base of the slope. Climb up the rocks to some wooden steps, then Cross an old landfill to the Mussel Rock City Park parking lot and the end of this short section.
SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: Take a pleasant beach walk from either end and back, up to 8 miles round trip.
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 kilometers).
Open to: Hikers.
Surface: Sandy trail, beach.
Access point: Fort Funston Environmental Education Center.
How to get there: Fort Funston is in the very southwestern corner of San Francisco, west of Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd.) 1.5 miles south of Sloat Blvd. and I mile north of Alemany Blvd. Turn west and park in the Environmental Education Center parking lot.
Elevation gain/loss: 175 feet+/ 200 feet-.
Cautions: Watch for high waves on beach.
Further information: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Fort Funston (415)331-1540, ask for a TDD line if you need one. Bay Area District, California State Parks (415)330-6300.
Facilities: Restrooms, water, picnic tables at Fort Funston.
Campgrounds: Pacific Park RV Resort is on the next CCT section.
Lodging: Pacifica, Daly City and San Francisco all have choices.
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