If you're taking a stroll down the Golden Gate Promenade, you'll undoubtedly spot eager birders with binoculars fixed on the brackish waters of Crissy Marsh. The fresh water that flows through the Presidio's largest watershed ultimately meets the salty waters of San Francisco Bay here, creating a vibrant destination for more than 100 bird species, including those stopping for rest as they make their long journey along the Pacific Flyway.
It wasn't always this idyllic. The marsh was used as a dump beginning with the early Spanish settlers. From the late 19 th and early 20 th century, the marshland was gradually filled in to make room for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and later to support decades of Army industrial use.
Crissy Field's resurrection began in the late 1990s, when, over the course of five years, 40 acres of pavement was removed and natural habitat was restored with almost 100,000 plants representing 110 native species. The 2001 grand opening of the renewed Crissy Marsh threw out the welcome mat for both people and wildlife. No one was happier to visit than the Great Blue Herons and other "spearfishing" birds that today grace us with their startling presence. The area now has more new habitat available nearby at Quartermaster Reach Marsh.
When you visit the area, try to spot a Caspian Tern, a Belted Kingfisher, or one of the big guys - the Great Egret. Along with El Polín Spring a mile upstream, Crissy Marsh is the place to get your birdwatching on.
Birds aren't all you'll spot. The marsh gets active use from school groups visiting the park to learn about the natural world, especially youth from Crissy Field Center. You might also spot happy couples taking selfies with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Crissy Marsh is located between the Bay Trail, the Golden Gate Promenade, and the Tennessee Hollow Trail, and next to Quartermaster Reach Marsh. The closet restrooms are at East Beach, where you can also pick up a snack at the Beach Hut Café. The Muni 30 bus stops nearby and limited parking (very limited on the weekends) is also at East Beach.