When in San Francisco it’s one of the top things to do – cycle across the Golden Gate bridge. Thank goodness for electric bikes is all I can say, because I definitely couldn’t have managed the eight mile trip if it was just under my own steam.
We hired bikes from a hire shop in town and, after a quick demonstration from a staff member of how to use the power and a quick demonstration from us of our ability to ride a bike, we were set loose into the big wide world. We made our way towards the National Park Bike Path which would take us through Aquatic Park, past Fort Mason, down to the Marina, along by the water’s edge to the base of the bridge. The weather was dull and misty and low clouds obscured the bridge, which was disappointing.
The path took us along beside a beach, which was very popular with dog walkers. Either the good people of San Francisco like to own many dogs, or there were lots of professional dog walkers out that morning.
After about an hour we stopped for coffee in a little cafe called The Warming Hut (very appropriate name and very welcome because it was quite a chilly day) just opposite a pier where people were fishing. The mist and clouds continued to lift slowly and by now we could see a little bit more of the bridge.
The path ended at Fort Point, the seacoast fortification at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The fort was completed just before the start of the American Civil War in 1861 to defend the bay against hostile warships.
On the fence, preventing access under the bridge, there is a set of yellow handprints, and on the ground below there is a set of paw prints. As we stopped to admire the views, several runners and walkers touched the hands before turning round and heading back off along the path. A little investigation on Google, came up with this explanation for the hands and paws.
The fog had nearly lifted, the sun was struggling to filter through, and we could just make out the tops of the towers.
This was when I was very, very thankful to have an electric bike as we had to take a steep, curving path up towards the road which went across the bridge. If I’d been on a push bike I would have had to walk most of the way and we might not have made it to the other side before nightfall!
Our plan was to cross the bridge, go down the other side and into the town of Sausalito where we were going to catch the ferry back to San Franscisco.
I had been slightly concerned about riding a bike on the road with the busy traffic, but I needn’t have worried because there was a separate, fenced off, path for the cyclists and pedestrians. The path was not wide, but there were areas every so often where you could pull off to the side to admire the view and rest, which was very welcome because we were not allowed to use the power setting on the bikes on the bridge for some reason so it was all down to leg muscles.
The views from the bridge would have been breathtaking on a clear day, but they were still pretty good on that misty morning.
After crossing the bridge we stopped to look back – and were impressed to see what we had just done!
After that it was a case of following the path to the road which took us towards Sausalito, lunch and the ferry home.
For some reason I failed to take any photos of Sausalito itself, but I can report that it is a very charming town with lots of yacht marinas, small shops and eateries.
We had assumed that the ferry dock would be quite obvious, but about a mile or so after we had ridden through the town and out of the other side we realised that we must have missed it and had to turn round and go back! We left our bikes in the racks by the ferry and went off in search of some lunch.
The return ferry ride was well worth it and gave us some great views of the bridge, and the skyline of San Francisco.
If you are ever in San Francisco I recommend doing this (and I recommend the electric bike too!) as, even though I started with disappointment because of the foggy weather, we had some fabulous views that just wouldn’t be possible from a car or bus.