matthew conway

Gentleman, Rubyist, Herokai & Go enthusiast

Exploring Lands End

- Hayes Valley, San Francisco

At the end of the four day holiday weekend (Independence Day), Ashley and I decided to go for a hike around the Lands End area of San Francisco. It was a fantastic afternoon, and it only cost us $4.00 each to take the N Judah lightrail, roundtrip between Hayes Valley and Ocean Beach.

When we reached the end of the N line, we were at Judah Street where it intersects with Great Highway, which spans the Western edge of San Francisco–about 3.5 miles.

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

We were headed for the Cliff House/Seal Rocks area, but we were actually still a couple blocks south of Golden Gate Park. We enjoyed a long stroll north and luckily got to pass the Dutch Windmills this time!

Seal Rocks (San Francisco, California)

The Pacific is too cold for my liking, but there were several surfers paddling out in the icy water–in wetsuits, of course. The water at Ocean Beach is especially nippy and the current is strong. A dangerous combination for casual swimmers, it has swept away and drowned many. Dedicated local surfers tend to stick to the northernmost part of this area, Kelly’s Cove.

Pacific Ocean, near Sutro Baths ruins

Passing the Cliff House restaurant smelled delicious and it made me hungry, but I restrained myself and decided on a pit-stop for coffee at the Lands End Lookout cafe, instead. Their coffee and hot chocolate really is not half bad! It comes in handy on cold windy days in this area.

Map of Lands End (San Francisco, California)

This is the first time we’d ventured past the Sutro Baths ruins on to the Lands End trails. I mean, Ocean Beach and the Sutro ruins are beautiful, but I frequently had to stop along our way through Lands End and say a few things, in awe, which I won’t repeat. The views were stunning.

Winding Steps

Recalling my Boy Scout days, this was not what I would call a very long or difficult trail, so I think it’s perfect for a bit of casual exploring on the weekends. If you’re still hungover, you’ll be fine. If you’re visiting, this will fit in nicely with the rest of your activities for a day.

Kanrin Maru Monument

There’s not much I can say about the trails themselves that you don’t get from this: I was smiling the whole time, snapping photos with Ashley and of the amazing views, and I really felt like I was far from the San Francisco I see every day. I was in the great outdoors, if you will, and I needed that. It’s hard to believe I’m just a short trip away from such beautiful, perfect nature.

Golden Gate Bridge

Check out more photos from my Exploring Lands End set on