Stretching a mile below the rugged cliffs on the Presidio’s western shoreline, Baker Beach’s spectacular outside-the-Gate views of the Bridge and the Marin Headlands are unsurpassed.
Keep your eye out for harbor porpoises frolicking in the surf and for California’s State Rock (serpentine). Learn about an early 20th-century “disappearing gun”. Picnic and restroom facilities available.
- On sunny weekends, be prepared for crowds and parking congestion.
- A picnic area with tables, grills, and restroom facilities is tucked in the cypress grove at the east end of the parking lot.
- Baker Beach can be warm enough for sunbathing and picnicking.
- Look for the display of historical military photographs inside the Battery Chamberlin magazine.
- Hikers can pick up the Coastal Trail on the cliffside.
- The northernmost end of Baker Beach is frequented by clothing-optional sunbathers.
California State Rock: Serpentine
Outcrops of gray-green serpentine protrude among the cliffs between Fort Point and Baker Beach. Serpentine forms when rocks deep in the earth’s crust are altered and forced to the surface. Serpentine yields soils unusually high in magnesium and low in calcium, which spur special adaptations among rare plant species.
The best views of San Francisco’s serpentine cliffs are from the overlooks on Lincoln Boulevard, north of Baker Beach.
The army built Battery Chamberlin on Baker Beach in 1904 to protect the harbor’s minefields. In 1977, the Golden Gate National Parks acquired a 97,000-pound cannon of the type originally emplaced here, and visitors today can still see this “disappearing” gun that can be cranked in and out of its hidden emplacement.
Early San Francisco Water
In 1858, John Bensley dammed Lobos Creek at its mouth near Baker Beach and built a redwood flume that carried the water around to Fort Point and modern-day Fort Mason, marking the advent of the city’s first permanent water supply.