The Kirby Cove trail is highly traveled by tourists and for good reason. This hike has some of the best views in the Bay Area, with outstanding views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Kirby Cove Trail also has a rocky shore beach at the halfway point that is excellent for picnics.
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take exit 442 onto Alexander Ave. Immediately turn left and cross under the highway and follow Alexander Highway for a couple of minutes. Turn right onto Conzelman Road and follow it to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point which is on your left.
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At Kirby Cove Campground
From the parking lot at the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, you immediately get rewarded with some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Bay Area, so soak it in and snap some photos. Then head to the right toward the white gates on Kirby Cove Road and start the trek down the hill. This trail is a dirt road and acts as an access road for rangers.
Continue on this road until you hit the beach. Along the route down to Kirby Cove, you will pass Kirby Cove Campground, an absolutely exceptionally situated campground, that unfortunately needs to be booked up to a year in advance for a spot.
While descending, keep right at any path splits. Once you see the beach you can walk across the rocky shore. Here you’ll find Battery Kirby, a defensive maritime artillery battery to defend San Francisco Bay. Construction began in 1898 and the Battery was in service until 1934, when it became obsolete.
The Kirby Cove Beach is a great place for a break, and we love the views back to San Francisco and the Golden Gate bridge from Kirby Cove.
Once you are ready to head back, start by returning the way you came.
On the way back up the hill, on the right side, you will see a small side trail that takes you to Battery Wagner. This historic battery was operational from 1895 to 1920. While it is a short detour off the trail to see the 19th century cement structure, we think the views from here are worth it.
Get back on the Kirby Cove Road and continue the journey back to your car.
While not shown on our map, you can also continue from the parking lot on the trail that leads out to Ridge Battery and Battery Spencer. This trail offers fine views, but is much more crowded.
There is extremely limited parking at this location, so plan to go early on a week day if possible.
There will be a lot of people on the trail mid day, so plan to avoid mid day hiking here if possible and avoid the crowds.
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