Point Bonita Lighthouse Trail Golden Gate National Recreation Area

While nearly everyone that visits San Francisco makes sure to visit the Golden Gate bridge, they often miss the other scenic areas of Golden Gate national Recreation Area that they certainly would want to see if they were a little better informaed and knew were just a few miles away. One of these is the Point Bonita lighthouse and hike.

While the main goal of doing the short hike to make your way to Point Bonita Lighthouse and the new Point Bonita lighthouse bridge, you should certainly slow down a bit and not make a beeline for the lighthouse. Taking your time will allow you to take advantage of the beautiful sights along the way. There are plenty of gorgeous views of the California coastline at the Marin Headlands, along with an abundance of wonderful plant life and trees which make for some incredible photographic opportunities:

point bonita lighthouse trail scenery

This includes some beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge that many visitors to San Francisco never see:

Point Bonita lighthouse trail start

point bonita lighthouse trail Golden gate bridge

The trail definitely is not flat with a hill that you descend (and thus must climb back up on the way out), bit it is paved and is wheelchair accessible:

point bonita lighthouse trail path

In addition to the beautiful views, there is also the opportunity to see wildlife such as harbor seals basking on the rocks just offshore below the cliffs:

point bonita lighthouse trail harbour seals

Toward the end of the trail you reach a tunnel that you must go through to reach Bonita lighthouse. When the lighthouse is open to the public (Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM), the tunnel is open. When the lighthouse is closed, there is a steel door that blocks you from entering which also means that you can’t see the lighthouse even from a distance:

point bonita lighthouse trail tunnel

Once you make it through the tunnel, you emerge to see this breathtaking sight:

point bonita lighthouse

If you have the opportunity to visit San Francisco, make sure that you give yourself at least a full day to explore some of the lesser known areas of Golden Gate National Recreation Area…

Hawk Hill Golden Gate National Recreation Area

If you are looking for a beautiful and unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge, you definitely want to head to Hawk Hill in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. When driving north, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take the Alexander Avenue exit which is immediately after the Golden gate Bridge Vista Point turnout where you park to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. After exiting, turn left and go under the highway. You will then make a right onto Conzelman Road. It’s a fairly steep road and the turn is the first right hand turn yo can make.

There are number of pullouts and parking stops along the road which all offer spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Hawk Hill is at the very of the hill (approximately a mile up). You’ll go around a small roundabout as you make your way to Hawk Hill and you have reached it when the two-way road turns into a one-way road. Here are a few photos taken from Hawk Hill.

Hawk Hill Golden Gate

Hawk Hill wildflowers

Hawk Hill California poppies

Hawk Hill Alcatraz

Golden Gate Bridge Hawk Hill

Better Food For National Parks Initiative

Golden Gate Bridge at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

OK, I think this is a fabulous idea — having the National Parks across the US provide the local, seasonable food for the area the park is located as (at the very least) an option for those visiting the parks. I’m not the only one that thinks that way. The Institute at the Golden Gate’s Food for the Parks initiative has the goal of expanding the availability of local, nutritious, and sustainable fresh food to all National Park visitors. This program hopes to take advantage and leverage the National Park Service’s purchasing power to make small changes in the food supply chain which will ultimately affect the food systems across the country and beyond.

In order to achieve these goals, the Institute put together two publications which it hopes that the National Parks in conjunction with food service providers will use as a guide to take the needed steps to continue to help spread this idea.

The first of these is called Food for the Parks: Case Studies of Sustainable Food in America’s Most Treasured Places. This PDF document highlights parks and concessionaires which have already implemented healthy and sustainable food programs. Looking at these programs, it pinpoints the best practices of these programs so that these can be adopted by other parks around the country.

The second of these is called Food for the Parks: A Roadmap to Success. This PDF document can be used as a sort of toolkit by providing strategies and ideas to help initiate and inspire collaboration among the parks and food service providers. It encourages the two to be partners in order to create a fresh, healthy, and sustainable food program which can be used in parks or any other similar places across the country.

The best part of the Food for the Parks initiative is that it ultimately can become a model to help encourage ongoing incremental improvement within the current large-scale food system that reaches far beyond just the National Parks system. Having the National Parks service leverage its buying power to requests improved food offerings by concessionaires, these new choices will become available not only to the National Park service, but to all the concessionaire’s customers as well. This would include the better food choices being available to institutions such as hospitals, sports stadiums, and universities. The hope is that by working together, National Parks and food providers can both create and expand markets for sustainable foods and products which in turn will reduce the impact on the environment while benefiting local economies which surround the parks.

Does this sound like an initiative that the national parks should be doing?