Rodeo Lagoon is one of my favorite spots on the central California coast. This past February, we took advantage of some remarkably dry weather to hit the trails in the Marin Headlands. It was Super Bowl Sunday and we enjoyed a late afternoon ridge hike and practically had the place to ourselves!
Here is a nice view of the Wolf Ridge high above Fort Chronkhite from the parking lot at Rodeo Beach. We took a 5.2 mile loop hike which traverses a portion of the ridge.
The hike starts at Rodeo Beach, one of my favorite spots in the Marin Headlands.
A few surfers jockeyed for waves at the north end of the beach. The surf was pretty calm and it looked like a nice day to be out in the water.
A couple hundred feet up the trail you can look back down on the lagoon and beach. This is one of my favorite views in the bay area. I don't know why - it just is.
After a few more minutes of hiking, we came upon the Battery Townsley, constructed in 1938. Park Service volunteers were conducting tours and a very friendly lady gave us the last tour of the day through the tunnels buried in the hillside. During WWII, this entire installation would have been carefully camouflaged to hide it from spying eyes.
A little bit higher up the ridge we got an even better view of the beach, looking over towards Point Bonita, with San Francisco in the background. Sutro Tower is visible on the ridge in the background (in my neighborhood!), with the hills around Pacifica (Montara Mountain and Point San Pedro) stretching out to the south.
This is the site of the massive 68-foot long artillery gun mounted in the hillside at Battery Townsley. With a range of 25 miles, the idea was that you could triangulate on an enemy warship, project its speed and trajectory, and hit the target within three shots. Seems kind of improbable to me, but the Park Service volunteer assured us that the crew was quite capable.
Here's a photo of a gun similar to that mounted at Battery Townsley.
We saw a few folks up on the trail but we mostly had the ridge to ourselves since it was close to sunset. This is the view looking north towards Tennessee Valley.
There is a paved trail at the top of the ridge that takes you up to Hill 88 (elevation 988 ft), which has a history as a radar site for nearby Nike missile installations.
There are quite a few abandoned buildings at the top of the hill. This one provides a view of Ocean Beach in San Francisco, through the window.
Once on top of the ridge, we found sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean to our west.
Looking west along the ridge at sunset. It was a beautiful day to be up in the Marin Headlands.
This is the view coming down from Hill 88. You have to backtrack just a little bit to pick up the rest of the Wolf Ridge trail, which drops down on the backside of the ridge and then joins the Miwok trail to loop back around to Rodeo Lagoon.
We got a late start and took an unexpected tour of Battery Townsley so we ended up hiking down the road back to the car in the dark. It was worth it though!