Point Bonita Lighthouse
Point Bonita is located in the Marin Headlands at the southern most point near Rodeo Lagoon & the Nike Missile Site. Built in 1855, the lighthouse is still active and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is reached by a half mile trail that is steep in parts. The National Park Service opens the tunnel entrance to visitors on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s a narrow window, but this hidden gem is well worth the trip.
When researching hikes in the Marin Headlands for my birthday I came across many trails and historic landmarks that Chris and I hadn’t explored. Almost done with all of the parks in San Francisco, we pointed our adventure compass north to Point Bonita. After doing some research we discovered that MUNI is currently testing the 76X bus route to Point Bonita on Saturdays & Sundays. The bus runs every hour, but you have to tell the driver that you want to go there, otherwise he/she will just drive the normal route to Rodeo Cove. We met up with the bus at Sutter & Sanome, the beginning of the line, and took it to Bunker Rd & Miwok Trail.
Routesy, the iPhone app, ended up being the most useful map for figuring out where we needed to go. A lot of the MUNI maps online showed all of the stops in the city, but only 1 or 2 once you were in the headlands – which is useless. We quickly discovered that you cannot take the Miwok Trail from Bunker to Point Bonita – as one map lead us to believe. Instead, we walked up Field Rd past the Marin Headlands Vistor Center where we stopped to ask for better directions.
We were enlightened by the gruff gentleman inside that there are no trails that go to Point Bonita and that we had to walk up the side of Field Rd to get there. He also informed us that the 76X pilot program is kind of a mess. More often then not one bus driver will drop people off at Point Bonita and then no one will come back to pick them up. So! If you do end up taking the bus over, remember – you can take the bus there, but you need to walk back to Bunker & Miwok Trail if you want to get home.
The entrance to the Point Bonita half-mile trail is marked with a half sphere bunker.
The trail itself was pretty easy – I thought. It’s a well-maintained, relatively large downhill trail on the way there. The views of Bonita cove and SF are beautiful.
The coolest part of the trail is going through the giant slanted rockface. It looks like something out of a travel magazine or other-worldly sci-fi movie.
Once through the creepy cave, the trail narrows as the lighthouse comes into view.
The suspension bridge to the lighthouse is brand new, built in 2012. It looks trustworthy enough, but it sways with the wind and can be quiet off-putting for those afraid of heights.
The lighthouse, as you can imagine, is very tiny. You can walk around it and go inside, but it’s super cramped quarters for many people to be in and all try to listen to the historian at once. Chris and I ended up exploring on our own, but before long we can seen everything there was to see and headed back.
I highly recommend visiting Point Bonita and the lighthouse. We actually stopped for a bit on our way back and ate a picnic lunch on one of the benches that lines the trail. Even on a warm day, as you should know now with most of SF, bring a jacket for when you’re at the lighthouse – it is extremely windy and cold. It’s probably easier to rent a car, but if you want to do it on the cheap or want a bus adventure the 76X is the way to go. If you’d like to see all of our pictures, check out Chris and my flickr set.