Baker Beach: San Francisco, California

At the northern tip of San Francisco’s Presidio, Baker Beach offers spectacular views from outside the Golden Gate. Beach wheelchairs are available if you reserve in advance and can transport one here from Fort Mason. An accessible bench sits in the northwest corner of the oceanfront parking lot, and nearby, behind the restroom, a short path leads to a grassy area where picnic tables are set on pavement and dirt among cypress trees.

Battery Chamberlin, near the north end of the northern parking lot, is an artillery installation the U.S. Army maintained and frequently remodeled from the late 1800’s through World War II. It still has a six-inch “disappearing gun” from the early 1900’s, designed to pop up from behind a parapet to fire, then drop down again. The gun is revealed every weekend, weather permitting, and on the first full weekend of each month, from 11 am to 3 pm, park rangers demonstrate how it works. The approach from the parking lot is level but steps prevent close access to the installation. 

Lobos Creek Valley Trail

see access criteria for definitions
Trailhead: At the southwestern end of the Presidio Trust maintenance yard parking lot, which is on the east side of Lincoln Boulevard, across from Bowley Street and Baker Beach.
Length: Under one mile total.
Typical Width: 4+ feet.
Typical Grade: Gentle.
Terrain: Hard. The boardwalk sags a bit in the middle and shrubbery encroaches on it in places.
Obstacles: No turnaround area at the end of the boardwalk.

Description

If you visit Baker Beach in spring, be sure to take the short trek along this boardwalk through the restored dune habitat of Lobos Creek Valley to see the wildflowers in bloom. Look for purple dune gilia and San Francisco lessingia (both endangered), sticky monkey flower, bush lupine, paintbrush, coast buckwheat, and more. It’s also a great place to spot birds and butterflies. The boardwalk begins near the southwestern edge of the parking lot and winds first south and then east through the dunes; it undulates as it follows the dune contours, but the slopes are gentle. Along the southern edge of the dunes, behind a fence and a tangle of coast live oaks, is Lobos Creek, the last free-flowing creek in San Francisco and the Presidio’s main water source. For the most part it isn’t visible from the trail, but you can often hear it as you follow its course eastward.

After about a quarter of a mile the trail swings north, and shortly after that a spur trail takes off to the left; follow it to reach an observation platform that looks out over the dunes from a slight elevation. Here you’ll find a bench and an interpretive sign describing the area’s history and the dune ecosystem restoration. This is a good turnaround point; the boardwalk continues to the north and then loops west, but stops at a set of stairs where there is no space to turn around.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

  • Beach Wheelchair: Yes
    Beach wheelchairs are available for pickup at Crissy Field and Fort Mason, Building 201; five days advance notice is required. To reserve, you can send email via the NPS website or call 415-561-4958; (800) 877-8339 Federal Relay Service, (877) 877-6280 VCO, (877) 877-8982 Speech to Speech, (800) 845-6136 Spanish, (866) 893-8340 TeleBraille.
  • Accessible Parking: Yes
    Several accessible spots are in both the north and south (oceanfront) lots at Baker Beach, and two are in the lot at the Lobos Creek Valley trailhead.
  • Accessible Restroom: Limited Accessibility
    At northern and southern (oceanfront) parking lots. The restroom building in the northern lot has no 5′ x 5′ turnaround space except in the stall.
  • Accessible Picnic Tables: Limited Accessibility
    One group of tables in the picnic area behind the restroom is reachable via an uneven and frequently sandy asphalt path. These tables do not have 27″ knee clearance.
Other Things of Interest

The northernmost end of Baker Beach is frequented by clothing-optional sunbathers.

Additional Information
  • Hours: Parking lot: 6 am-7 pm
  • Map: See here.
  • Fee: None
  • Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on Baker Beach south of Lobos Creek, but are allowed off leash under voice control north of the creek. Dogs are not allowed on the Lobos Creek Valley Trail.
Bonnie Lewkowicz Bonnie Lewkowicz (59 Posts)

I has worked for more than 30 years advocating for, and educating about access to outdoor recreation and tourism for people with disabilities. I hold a degree in Recreation Therapy and was a travel agent specializing in accessible travel for many years. In this capacity, and now as Associate Director at Wheelchair Traveling, I consult with the travel industry about accessibility, conducts disability awareness trainings and writes about travel and outdoor recreation. I also authored a book titled, A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast, about accessible trails and has produced several access guides to San Francisco. My most current project is a website of accessible trails along the entire California Coast (www.wheelingcalscoast.org). My extensive experience as a wheelchair rider combined with her professional experience has provided me with in-depth knowledge about inclusive tourism and outdoor recreation.


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