Approximately 25 miles south of San Francisco, in the small town of Princeton, Pillar Point Harbor is a home port for commercial and sport fishing boats and a take-off point for whale watching, scuba diving, and kayaking in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The harbor is sheltered by the Pillar Point headland to the north and two large breakwaters to the south. You can stop for a meal or a snack on the lively little waterfront and, in season, go directly to the fishing boats to buy fish from the people who caught them. The docks themselves aren’t accessible during low tide, but the fishers will bring the fish to you. You can also try to catch something yourself from the recreational fishing pier (42-inch railings).
For a ride that allows close-up observation of life in a saltmarsh, take the West Shoreline Trail. A half-mile section of the paved Coastside Trail takes off to the south from the end of the harbor road, traveling along the harbor to El Granada Beach. A lovely way to end the day is to dine at one of the ocean-view restaurants on Capistrano Road.
West Shoreline Trail
see access criteria for definitions
Trailhead: At the parking lot off West Point Avenue
Length: 1-2 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Level
As you roll out on the trail, the restored saltmarsh is to your left, with the harbor beyond. Romeo Pier, a rickety green shed perched at its end, juts far out into the water. The Pillar Point Air Force Station, a radar facility atop a promontory, is above you to the right, surrounded by a fence and Monterey cypress. Looking out at the breakwater, you may spot harbor seals lounging on the rocks or pelicans diving in the ocean; the quieter waters of the harbor are popular with kayakers and paddle-boarders. Farther along, at a small inaccessible beach, the trail climbs slightly, and with the cross-slope, wheelchair riders will want to hug the hillside. Someone has laid out stones in a maze here. The trail ends 50 feet from the breakwater.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking: Yes
Accessible spots are scattered throughout the harbor and boat launch parking lots, and one is in the gravel parking lot at the West Shoreline trailhead.
Accessible Restroom: Yes
Across from the Harbormaster’s Office at the foot of Johnson Pier. An accessible portapottie is at West Shoreline trailhead. The restroom at the boat launch near the Coastal Trail is mostly accessible, but the entrance and the turnaround area are tight because of trash can placement, and the stall door is difficult to open and close.
Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes
Behind the Harbormaster’s Office