Sunday 27 February 2011

San Francisco Marina Green to Fort Point Out-and-Back Running Route

Click here for route map 

Length: 7.01 Kilometers / 4.36 Miles, terrain flat

By Heather Marr

Thanks, Heather, for this great route along the San Francisco bayside north shore through Chrissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge! I'm sure this article will start a stampede of people buying orange wallpaint... Also see Heather's more exotic route description for Montevideo Rambla Out-and-Back

Pictures by the photographers at (thanks!) and GoogleMaps StreetView

San Francisco running routes:
Best San Francisco Running Routes: Overview
Marina Green to Golden Gate
Downtown/Embarcadero/Chinatown/Nob Hill
Ft. Mason/Fisherman's Wharf/Telegraph Hill/Lombard Street
Golden Gate Park
For more running routes, see Route List.

It’s been over a year since I lived (and ran) in San Francisco, and because I’ve been residing in very flat Uruguay, there’s no way I could immediately start pounding the hills of my former city if I were to visit right now. If you’ve just arrived from a similarly vertically challenged locale, try the following route a time or two before tackling something more challenging. You might even want to take your camera.

Worth taking your camera? View from Fort Point. Photo by G. S. Rom
NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
My favorite time to do this route is early morning. It always seemed that the winds were significantly weaker then. Plus, it’s just quieter. Sunset is gorgeous on the rare clear evening, but usually the fog starts rolling in at around 5 p.m. or so. If you go after dark, take a flashlight or wear a headlamp, as parts of this route are not always well lit. In general, temperatures in San Francisco are perfect for running: plus or minus 13 C or 55 F.

The Marina Green to Fort Point Route
Start at the west side of the Marina Green. If you’re driving, there’s a good chance that here you’ll find something quite precious in San Francisco: a free parking space with no time restrictions (well, provided you’re not there between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.). There are also decent public restrooms right next to the Marina Yacht Harbor.

View towards Golden Gate Bridge from Marina (GoogleMaps StreetView)
Run a little way south to the end of the Green, and turn right onto Marina Boulevard. Stay on the pedestrian side of the shared path for bikers and pedestrians, and ogle all the yachts in the harbor (or the bay view homes across the street).

Marina Boulevard houses, photo by GoogleMaps StreetView
At around 1 km., right before you get to the lagoon, make a right onto a trail heading toward the bay, until you get to the wide, dirt pedestrian trail (which runs parallel to the paved path you were just on). Make a left onto the trail.

Path towards the lagoon, photo by GoogleMaps StreetView
Continue past the lagoon (on your left), and on past Crissy Field, a large, green park that used to be an airfield as part of the United States Presidio Army Base until the base closed in the 1990s. If you’re running in the afternoon, you’re likely to see windsurfers enjoying the beach at the east end of the field (East Beach).

Windsurfer near lagoon. Photo by Michaela Schöllhorn
By now, you might feel as if you’re battling a ferocious headwind (or tailwind, in which case, enjoy the ride!), but the stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge — whose vibrant International Orange is touched up continually by a team of thirty-eight painters—should be enough to bolster any sagging motivation. If you need additional distraction, try to count the Bugaboo strollers on the trail (this is still the Marina District, after all).

Side note: Want to paint your living room the color of the Golden Gate Bridge? I knew you did! Just have your paint store mix up a can or two for you using the following information. The PMS code is 173, or the CMYK percentages are: C=Cyan: 0%, M=Magenta: 69%, Y=Yellow: 100%, K=Black: 6% (

When you’ve reached the end of Crissy Field, you can stop to use the restrooms at the Warming Hut Bookstore and Café if necessary. The pedestrian trail ends shortly thereafter, merging into Marine Drive.

View of Alcatraz, photo by Alexander Hauk
Run along Marine Drive, curving around northward till you’re running alongside the Golden Gate Bridge. If the waves are right, you’ll see a few surfers braving what was apparently the first surf spot in North Central California, with breaks directly under the bridge.

Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge, photo by W. Broemme
Touch Fort Point, which was built before the American Civil War to protect San Francisco Bay from hostile warships. The Confederate ship CSS Shenandoah planned to attack San Francisco, but the Civil War ended before the ship got to California. (Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks By W. Craig Gaine, from

Turn around and run back toward the Marina Green, enjoying the view of downtown San Francisco (and possibly a lovely tailwind).

If it happens to be around brunchtime when you’re done (in San Francisco, that means anytime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., but only on weekends), follow in the tradition of the San Francisco Road Runners circa 2004 and head over to Bechelli’s for typical American fare such as bacon and eggs. Located at 2346 Chestnut Street, it’s about a 10-minute walk from the Marina Green, straight down Scott Street (then make a right on Chestnut).

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