Lobos Creek Trail, The Presidio
National Park Service,
San Francisco County
In brief:
Easy, under 1 mile stroll through restored dunes and forest in San Francisco's Presidio.

Distance, category, and difficulty
This 0.65 mile hike/walk is easy, and the first (boardwalk) section is wheelchair/stroller accessible. Total elevation change is about 50 feet.

Mostly exposed, with some shade.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Elevated boardwalk and dirt trails.

Hiking time
1/2 hour.

Nice any time.

Getting there
From CA 1 in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco), bear left onto 25th Avenue. Drive on 25th Avenue to the junction with El Camino del Mar (in the Seacliff neighborhood). Turn right onto Lincoln Boulevard and drive a short distance to side of road parking near the Presidio sign (just before a building complex on the right, and Bowley Street on the left).

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3747'18.45"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants in surrounding neighborhoods. No camping here -- the only nearby option is the group campsite at Rob Hill.

Trailhead details:
Side of street parking. No designated handicapped spots. No restrooms or drinking water. No parking or entrance fees. Lobos Creek Trail is suitable to wheelchairs. This trailhead is accessible by public transportation: Muni bus #29 stops a few feet from the start of the trail. Read some cautions about urban hikes.

Trail is hiking only, open from dawn to dusk. Dogs are permitted on leash only.

The Official Story:
William J. Mott, Jr. Visitor Center 415-561-4323
NPS's Presidio page
The Presidio Trust website has a wealth of information regarding the Presidio.

Map Choices:
• Use a San Francisco street map to get there. AAA's San Francisco map is good.
• Call the Visitor Center and ask them to mail you their Presidio trail map. It's free, and a great guide to the park.
Maps from NPS (download park map or trail map gif)

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

If the Lobos Creek Trail is any indication, the Presidio's rehabilitation is on the right track. TrailheadThis 0.4 mile boardwalk path winds through restored sand dunes near the Presidio's southwestern border, on an interpretative tour that captures the area's past, present, and future. Before the Presidio became a military installation, the land on the northwestern edge of San Francisco was a mix of coastal prairie, wetlands, oak forest, coastal scrub, riparian corridors, and sand dunes. The area of the park adjacent to Lobos Creek was historically sand dunes, but the ecosystem was destroyed by years of military use. Volunteers and GGNRA staff began a restoration in 1994, building new dunes and planting vegetation to return the area to a more natural setting. Bordered by Lobos Creek and tucked between a residential neighborhood and a Presidio Trust compound, the trail provides a brief respite from city life, and a good education about native sand dune plants.Lobos Creek Trail
    Begin from side of the road parking and walk a few feet east toward the Presidio Trust complex. Lobos Creek Trail begins on the right, marked by a large interpretive sign highlighting past and present Presidio landscapes and plant communities. A few of the plants which have been returned to this area can be found (some labeled) on both sides of the trail -- look for buckwheat, yellow bush lupine, coyote brush, sticky monkeyflower, coastal sagewort, lizardtail, and yarrow. The elevated boardwalk heads south toward Lobos Creek, then veers left and winds at a level pace. A few Monterey pines fail to screen views and sound from the buildings nearby, but the trail itself is quite peaceful. Gradually, Lobos Creek Trail enters the new dunes area, and just past an interpretive sign about the dunes plant community, a little cul de sac breaks off on the left. Lobos Creek TrailMore plants, including deerweed, are labeled here. In late summer practically nothing was still blooming, with the exception of mock heather, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers that resemble lizardtail's display. Dragonflies were abundant, but since the morning was overcast, there were few butterflies out and about. The assortment of new plants should draw plenty of butterflies -- an interpretive sign at the end of the spur explains that the last sighting of the now extinct Xerces blue butterfly was over these dunes in 1942. Proceeding on Lobos Creek Trail, buckwheat, coyote brush, and yellow bush lupine seem especially happy on the new dunes, and in late summer little birds feed on lupine seeds, nearly completely camouflaged in the silvery leaves. Alternate return route to LincolnThe trail curves back to the left, gently ascends a dune, then drifts north toward a forest of Monterey cypress and pine. In spring, look on the sides of the trail for a resurgence of planted natives, including San Francisco spineflower (a strange looking plant with little whitish flowers), San Francisco lessinga (yellow), and dune gilia (purple). At 0.37 mile, Lobos Creek Trail ends at the edge of the forest. You can retrace your steps, or follow a wide sandy path west, skirting the north side of the Presidio Trust complex. This path ends at Lincoln -- turn left and walk less than 0.1 mile back to the trailhead.
Total distance: 0.74 mile or 0.65 mile (if you take the alternate return route)
Last visit: Tuesday, September 2, 2003