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Crissy Field and Fort Point

With 100 acres of bayside open space, Crissy Field is a delight for strollers, joggers, windsurfers, bicyclists, dog walkers, and people looking to spot birds and even sea lions or dolphins. Spring is a good time to see many native wildflowers in bloom. You can mosey along the Golden Gate Promenade while admiring spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Strait; check out the marsh, lagoon, and dune scrub; picnic; or sunbathe at the beach.

This part of the Presidio was once a coastal wetland, but was filled in for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. In 1921 the army constructed Crissy Airfield here, which served as the center for West Coast military aviation until 1936, when Hamilton Field opened in Marin. After the Presidio became part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, the tidal marsh and lagoon were restored, transforming Crissy Field into a shoreline park.

Trail/Pathway Details

Golden Gate Promenade

Trailhead: If you intend to do the entire stretch, the best access points are the East Beach parking lot (east end) or the Fort Point or Warming Hut lots (west end).

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Hard

Obstacles: The accessible route to the visitor center inside Fort Point is poorly lit in places


From the East Beach parking lot, the broad, paved trail travels west along the beach. Many wind and kitesurfers launch from East Beach to take advantage of the stiff winds that typically blow through the Gate; stop a moment to watch them skimming the waves, with the bridge towers and sometimes a container ship in the distance. Beach mats allow you to roll right out onto the sand, and a beach wheelchair is available from Fort Mason.

Soon you come to a small trail that leads away from the bay and across the marsh on a wooden boardwalk. This protected wildlife area has easy-to-operate gates at both ends of the boardwalk. A spur trail leads down near the water's edge. Back on the main trail, you travel along the large lagoon, where I watched a pair of pelicans land and take off during my early-summer visit; depending on the time of year, you may see many types of ducks and shorebirds here. To your right, a number of wooden boardwalks extend toward the beach, with benches and space for several wheelchairs alongside; these gave me the sense of being on the beach without worrying about getting stuck in the sand.

Past the lagoon, a large grassy field marks the site of the former airfield. You soon come to the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center, on your right. Follow the sidewalk to the main entrance, then wrap around the building to reach the ramp. If that entrance is locked, ring the buzzer (54 inches high). The amount of educational information stored in such a small space surprised me, and I especially enjoyed feeling the pelts of some of the marine mammals.

After the visitor center you come to the West Bluffs picnic area, with several picnic tables and barbecue grills on concrete pads. The nearby Warming Hut has a small café and shop. Just west of the hut, you can roll out onto Torpedo Wharf (although the surface is very rough and cracked), built in 1907 and rebuilt for use during World War II. Past the wharf, the trail to Fort Point is less appealing, as it becomes a sidewalk with a cross slope and then continues through a parking lot with no safe path of travel. Fortunately, there are often many pedestrians along this route and cars tend to move slowly. Here you are traveling right at the water's edge; at high tide and during storms, waves can splash the roadway along this stretch.

As you approach Fort Point, look for surfers and porpoises – when conditions are right, this is a favorite spot for both. After touring the fort, head back along the trail toward your starting point. San Francisco's skyline rises in the distance; late in the day, you may even see the buildings aglow with reddening light from the setting sun. Crissy Field is also an excellent spot from which to view the rising moon, or to watch as great billows of fog come pouring through the Gate.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Available for pickup at Fort Mason, Building 201; five days advance notice is required. To reserve, you can send email via the NPS website or call 415-561-4958; (800) 877-8339 Federal Relay Service, (877) 877-6280 VCO, (877) 877-8982 Speech to Speech, (800) 845-6136 Spanish, (866) 893-8340 TeleBraille

Accessible Parking: Yes

Crissy Field lot near the East Beach entrance off Mason St.,has the most spaces and best access. Several are in the lot behind the Warming Hut and in the lot at Fort Point.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

In the East Beach parking lot near the outdoor shower and at the Fort Point parking area. The older restrooms just west of the Warming Hut are also accessible.

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

A somewhat sheltered picnic area with accessible tables is near the marsh boardwalk at Crissy Field, close to the East Beach parking lot. Accessible picnic tables with a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands are east of the Warming Hut.
A wooden boardwalk extends toward the beach
A wooden boardwalk extends toward the beach (Eileen Ecklund)

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • bicycling
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • wildlife viewing

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: National Park Service (Golden Gate National Recreation Area), Presidio Trust
Phone: Presidio visitor center: (415) 561-4323; Fort Point: (415) 556-1693
Hours: Trails are open 24 hours. Fort Point: Wed.-Sun., 10 am-5 pm. Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary visitor center: Wed.-Sun., 10 am-4 pm.
Fees: None
Dogs: In restricted areas
At Crissy Field, dogs are allowed off-leash under voice control except for the wildlife protection area at the west end of Crissy Field beach, where leashes are required all year except from May 15 to July 1. Dogs are allowed on leash along the Golden Gate Promenade; no dogs inside Fort Point. Note that as of summer 2012, the GGNRA's dog management guidelines were under review and are subject to change
Public Transportation: Muni, PresidiGo
Useful Links: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Presidio Trust
Reviewed by Eileen Ecklund, June 20, 2012
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing