At different times a Native American fishing ground, a treacherous coastline for doomed ships, and home to an amusement park and swimming facility, Lands End is an important part of Ohlone and San Francisco history. However, by the 1990s it had become a place in dire need of restoration and visitor experience improvements.
A careful, 20-year planning process helped capture the tremendous cultural and natural importance of this site. In 2006, the Parks Conservancy and National Park Service began a series of projects that created a new trail system, trailhead, overlooks, parking lot, and visitor center. They have also restored important coastal habitats and fostered a volunteer program that continues to care for Lands End today.
The project’s planning team involved numerous stakeholder groups including the local community and Ohlone Tribe members. The team did archeological surveys, searched historic archives, and consulted interpretive specialists to determine how to protect and present the site’s history. The fragile sea-battered Sutro Bath ruins were stabilized and preserved, as were other important cultural artifacts such as Ohlone shell middens that are too sensitive for exposure to the elements.
Lands End lies in a unique environment where fresh water meets the ocean. The site supports several critical habitats, and restoration of these native landscape continues today. Every Saturday, a group of dedicated volunteers is joined by others who just drop in for the day to continue to help restore and beautify Lands End. Learn more about how you can join them to continue to protect and restore this park treasure!
The trailhead and overlook above the Sutro Baths provides the main entrance to the Coastal Trail at Lands End. Restoration along the Coastal Trail east of Mile Rock completed in 2007 increased important habitats for the site's abundant bird species, and improved drainage and reduced erosion. Two new overlooks, Mile Rock and Lifesaving Station Overlook, provide views across the Pacific Ocean to the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Bridge. In 2008, the Merrie Way parking facilities were expanded, views restored, and coastal dune scrub and wetland habitat protected. This project received the 2010 Beautification Award from San Francisco Beautiful.
The 4,150-square-foot Lands End Lookout, which opened in 2012, is a major milestone in the ongoing revitalization of Lands End. The building includes informational exhibits, park-related retail, a café, and restrooms. Visitors can enjoy an interpretive experience that complements already completed historic and ecological restoration.
Six completed overlooks along the California Coastal Trail at Lands End offer visitors a place to pause and enjoy the site's breathtaking views. Parking upgrades, accessibility improvements, and seating areas have allowed a wider range of visitors to get to and enjoy the park. The addition of permeable surfaces with native plantings improved drainage and water recycling and have helped create and protect important coastal habitats.
In addition to donations from thousands of individual Parks Conservancy members, and dedicated volunteers, this project has received support from the following:
- Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
- Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
- Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund
- California Coastal Conservancy