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The Golden Gate National Recreation Area protects over 80 thousand acres in Northern California. For this trip, we decided to explore the Marin Headlands section. The Marin Headlands is a peninsula just north of San Francisco on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d been to San Francisco many times before and had seen the bridge from that perspective, but this was the first time for all of us viewing the bridge, Alcatraz and the city from this vantage point. There far fewer tourists here and we enjoyed the view that much more, even though the bridge remained mostly shrouded in fog.
We stopped in two places. The first was Point Bonita. We hiked down the steep half mile trail through a tunnel in a hill and across a bridge to Point Bonita Light. There was a ranger on hand whose grandmother had lived in this lighthouse as a child. We spent a lot of time talking to him about the lighthouse which was constructed in 1855 as the third lighthouse on the West Coast. It is still active today and managed by the coast guard.
The second place we stopped was the Marine Mammal Center. Thank goodness for places like these! Our group felt it was well worth the visit and admission just to support the organization’s efforts to rehabilitate sick and injured marine mammals.
That said,we didn’t spend very long there. Our agenda for the day was pretty packed and we were there in between tour times. You can self-guide, but this is really not a zoo/aquarium. The animals are unwell and too much noise and commotion is not good for them. They can be viewed from a distance, but without the narrative from the docent on success stories, it was really too sad to linger for long.
On the drive to the lighthouse, we found a pullout with a seal rock that was close enough for us to really see the seals without binoculars.
Location: 948 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965
Designation: National Recreation Area
Date designation declared: 10/27/1972
Date of my visit: August 12, 2012