Baker Beach, a sandy stretch about a mile in length, is located in the southwest corner of the Presidio near the 25th Avenue Gate. For stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Marin Headlands, sunsets, birdlife, and the Golden Gate Beach, the site cannot be beat.
Baker Beach features a picnic area, connections to popular trails, proximity to the beautiful coastal bluffs, and monthly demonstrations of an historic artillery gun at Battery Chamberlin. Dress in layers, bring a blanket, and soak it in.
Despite its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the Baker Beach picnic area is cozy, sheltered from the wind by the surrounding sand dunes. The tables are popular when the sun comes out, so get there early to claim a spot, especially on the weekends. The site is equipped with barbeque pits. Restrooms are nearby.
This picnic site is managed by the National Park Service Special Park Uses Group (SPUG). Visit the SPUG website for information about group permits
, or contact them by phone at (415) 561-4374.
"Disappearing Gun" at Battery Chamberlin
A quick walk up the beach will take you to Battery Chamberlin, located at the north end of the Baker Beach parking lot. Here visitors can see a piece of history - a 50-ton, six-inch “disappearing gun” like the kind that defended San Francisco's coast in the early 1900s.
Demonstrations of the big rifle occur on the first full weekend of each month, typically between 11 am and 3 pm. During these demonstrations, visitors can explore an underground cartridge room inside the battery. It features photos and small exhibits on San Francisco's coastal defenses.
To confirm the date and time of the demonstrations, contact the Presidio Visitor Center at (415) 561-4323. Learn more about Battery Chamberlin
Nature and Wildlife
The call of the wild beckons at Baker Beach, located beneath the dramatic coastal bluffs. The area is known for its unique dune plants and serpentine rock formations (California's state rock).
Plants are in flower nearly every time of year. Some species survive the sandy, dry conditions by developing a long root that taps into water well below ground, while flowering runners extend horizontally along the surface. Botanists in training should keep their eyes out for classic Californian foredune flora, including sagewort, dune tansy, yellow sand verbena, and silver beach bur. Lobos Creek
, the Presidio's primary fresh water source, drains to the Pacific Ocean at the south end of the beach. Every day, nearly two million gallons are drawn from the creek through the Presidio's Water Treatment Plant, built by the Army in 1912. The Lobos Creek Dunes are just east of the beach, across Lincoln Boulevard.
On the wildlife front, Baker Beach is a great place to see V-shaped flocks of Brown Pelicans, once an endangered species. Migrating shorebirds like sanderlings and willets can be seen feeding for sand crabs at the surf. Occasionally dolphins and harbor seals surface in the ocean waters.
North to Marshall’s Beach
At its northernmost point, Baker Beach ends at a rocky respite. Just on the other side the shoreline resumes, this time called Marshall’s Beach. While Baker Beach provides a classic community beach experience (with parking and restrooms nearby), tiny Marshall's Beach is quiet and contemplative. The rugged shoreline is a spectacular setting for observing the birds and the bluffs. Some say that the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge
can be had from this vantage point.
Marshall's Beach is acessible on foot via the Battery to Bluffs Trail
. To get there from Baker Beach, take the "Sandladder" at the north end to the California Coastal Trail
, and then make a quick connection to the Battery to Bluffs Trail.