Presidio of San Francisco (August 13, 2012) -- Sitting at the Presidio’s new Pacific Overlook, it is hard to keep your mind from wandering over the horizon and becoming mesmerized by the windblown whitecaps and the hypnotic sounds of the waves breaking over the rocks below. The overlook, and the Golden Gate Overlook a few hundred yards to the north, are the latest additions to the Presidio’s hiking and biking trail network. Connected by an upgraded section of the California Coastal Trail, both overlooks offer breathtaking, picture-postcard views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pacific Ocean, and nearby coastal batteries.
Perched atop rugged coastal bluffs, the Pacific Overlook provides views of the Pacific Ocean from Land’s End to the Golden Gate. “Looking from a lofty eminence, through the broad gateway with its lofty sentinels of rock guarding either hand, one comes to realize for the first time the dignity and vastness of the Pacific,” wrote the San Francisco daily Alta California in August 1885. From this vantage point, as your eyes track a solitary ship steaming west, it is easy to imagine the many ships that traveled these waters before it—from the San Carlos, the Spanish galleon that discovered the Golden Gate, to troop ships sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge en route to the Pacific Theater in World War II—or even what the Golden Gate looked like a mere, evolutionarily speaking, 18,000 years ago when the strait was a vast meadow and the coast lay 25 miles to the west near the Farallon Islands.
"The Pacific Overlook was designed to capture the dramatic setting and give the feeling of being perched high at the edge of the bluff”, said Rania Rayes, landscape architect with the Presidio Trust. “With a gently sweeping curve defining its edge, the space embraces the wide expanse of views while also offering intimate seating areas, each with its own vantage point."
Located at the convergence of three major Presidio Trails—the state-wide California Coastal Trail, the regional Bay Area Ridge Trail and the international Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, the overlook reflects its natural surroundings and preserves a willow grove just below the plaza. Its rustic wooden benches are made of reclaimed cypress from the Presidio’s reforestation project. New bike lanes and footpaths along Lincoln Boulevard make the overlook the perfect rest stop for cyclists and hikers. The nearby Batteries to Bluffs Trail allows visitors to explore historic batteries, restored coastal habitat, and seasonal springs stretching to the beach below.
The Golden Gate Overlook offers park visitors a unique view of one of the world’s great landmarks—the Golden Gate Bridge. Designed to evoke adjacent military fortifications, the overlook is oriented to showcase the bridge’s signature towers in alignment and provides a view down the spine of the bridge that brings the gentle arc of the road, which is almost imperceptible when driving across the bridge, into focus.
Opened as the Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 75th anniversary, the overlook reflects the majesty of its surroundings, with the bridge’s towers rising above the bay like centurions guarding the gateway. Its spectacular, panoramic views of the bridge, as well as the Marin Headlands and the Pacific, offer a new appreciation for the bridge’s grandeur.
A new segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which opened this week, offers campers at the Rob Hill Campground and hikers along the Anza and Bay Area Ridge Trails a route to the two new overlooks. The quarter-mile path is part of a larger loop trail that is intended to be accessible to people with disabilities. The trail traverses the Presidio’s diverse landscape, extending through the Presidio’s historic forest and providing iconic views of the Bay, Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge.
Presidio trails and overlooks are being transformed through a partnership between the Presidio Trust, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service. Once complete, the trail network will provide a variety of opportunities to explore the park—from rugged hiking trails to in-road bike lanes—providing a welcoming experience for visitors of all abilities and interests.
The Pacific and Golden Gate Overlooks are the sixth and seventh completed as part of the Presidio’s Trails, Bikeways and Overlooks Campaign which envisions a series of eight major overlooks linked by 24 miles of trails and bikeways. The campaign was spearheaded by an unprecedented lead challenge grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund which has enabled the long-envisioned construction program to be realized. Matching funds from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, the California State Coastal Conservancy and Bay Area Ridge Trail Council also helped make the Golden Gate Overlook and associated trails possible. To learn about how you can contribute please contact Kathryn Morelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 561-3050.
The Presidio Trust is a distinguished federal agency created to save an historic American place and transform it to serve a new national purpose. The Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park site located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The areas overseen by the Trust include expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The park is home to 13 distinctive plant communities featuring 280 native plant species, 16 of which are rare or endangered. Thousands of hours of volunteer work have restored many acres of natural resource habitat. 21st-Century “green” practices are employed in all building and landscape rehabilitation efforts.
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Parks Conservancy is the non-profit membership organization created to preserve the Golden Gate National Parks, enhance the experiences of park visitors, and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for the future. The Conservancy is an authorized “cooperating association” of the National Park Service, and is one of more than 70 such nonprofit organizations working with national parks around the country. To learn more, please call (415) 561-3000.