Fort Funston - San Francisco

Fort Funston is gorgeous.

If you enjoy the outdoors, and are interested in exploring an area of San Francisco that is not well-known among tourists, consider spending an afternoon in this Golden Gate National Recreational Park area.

view of coastal cliffs and trails at Fort Funston Beach

Located in the southwestern corner of the city, it's an area of wide beach, sand dunes with walking trails, and steep bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean.

The park represents what the neighboring Sunset and Richmond districts looked like before they were developed, and there are several activities that you can participate in here.

You can walk, ride horses, bring you favorite doggie companion (it's one of the few designated park areas that allow dogs to roam freely off-leash), or watch people take-off from the cliffs at this popular hang-gliding destination.

landing zone for hang gliders at Fort Funston

The Beach:

Below is an image taken from Fort Funston beach.

As you can see there are some darker areas in the sand. This is because there are high concentrations of a dark-colored mineral called "magnetite", or magnetic sand, here. If you happen to bring a magnet with you to the beach, you could experiment with separating and lifting up the magnetic sand!

View of Fort Funston Beach

It's quite a hike to get down to the beach. If you plan to make the trip, be prepared for a healthy hike back up.

There are Dutch sand ladders built into the dunes to make it easier on you, but as you might be able to tell from the image below (which is about a third of the way down), it's still a bit of a distance.

Dutch sand ladders at Fort Funston

The next image is taken from the beach, looking up at the steep cliffs. To get some perspective, see if you can spot the little person standing right-of-center at the top!

Cliffs at Fort Funston

A Great Beach for Dogs:

If you aren't a fan of canine companions, that might be a reason to avoid this beach.

It's a really popular place for dog owners to bring their furry friends, and you'll see dogs romping around everywhere. The pictures that I have here don't really do justice to the numbers of them.

dogs at Fort Funston

Perhaps this is a clue though...

They have a water station especially for dogs, with several water bowls so that your companion can remain properly hydrated. It's typically a very busy stop.

Water dishes available for doggie visitors to Fort Funston

Before It Was a Park:

Historically, before Fort Funston became a protected National Recreation area, it played a role as a coastal protection zone of the San Francisco bay area, during the first and second World Wars. It also served as a launching site for Nike missiles (anti-aircraft missiles), but was de-activated in 1963.

Pictured below is the entrance to the Battery Davis gun emplacement.

Battery Davis at Fort Funston


There are wonderful views in several directions as you walk through the park.

If you walk along the upper sand dunes there are views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as of the northernmost San Francisco neighborhoods.

If you walk along the paved loop walkway, you will be rewarded with views of the Twin Peaks region of San Francisco.

The following 3 images demonstrate some of the views...

View of sand dunes at Fort Funston at northernmost neighborhoods of San Francisco.

view from Fort Funston

another fort funston view

Location, parking and map:

The park is located just off of Skyline Boulevard, in the southwestern corner of San Francisco.

There is one main parking lot, and this is where I would recommend you park. If you need to use facilities, there are a couple of porta-potty style restrooms here.

There are also a few parking spots just off to the right side of Skyline Boulevard, before the park entrance, if you are coming from the north. People who park here, hike up the sand dunes, to the connecting network of trails.

View Larger Map

Visit some of my other beach pages:

return to San Francisco Beaches from Fort Funston

return to San Francisco Travel Guide homepage from Fort Funston

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