Solitude in San Francisco is a just a Mile Rock away. This small and secluded cove tucked beneath wild and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, the Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge is easy to reach if you don’t mind lots of steps. From the Lands End parking lot by the Cliff House, follow the Coastal Trail east. The trail famously parallels dramatic cliffs buffering a moody, shipwreck-strewn section of the Pacific, with rows of Monterey cypress trees framing some of the ocean scenery. At just over half a mile, a sign for Mile Rock Beach Viewpoint will point you down 112 steps.
Follow the path at the bottom to Eduardo Aguilera’s enigmatic Eagle Point Labyrinth—a circular cliff-top maze of loose beach rocks whose air of mystery is enhanced by the sound of the Pacific’s hypnotic and fiercely crashing waves below—not to mention unmatched Golden Gate vistas. One more staircase descent and you’ve made it to Mile Rock. Choose a log (there are plenty), break out a picnic, and stay awhile. Whether exploring the expansive boulder-covered beach at low tide or experiencing the rush of high tide’s narrow shore, Mile Rock Beach is a San Francisco refuge.
TIP: Budget time for extra sightseeing in the area: The Sutro Bath ruins and observation area are just steps away from the parking lot. Keep an eye out for the SS Ohioan, one of three shipwrecks exposed at low tide.
Free parking is available at the new visitor center, called Lands End Lookout, located at 680 Point Lobos Ave. Walk east on the Coastal Trail and take the offshoot trail to Mile Rock Beach. Descend the stairs. When the staircase makes a sharp left, continue on a trail going straight. The labyrinth comes into view and then you’ll see another steep stairway leading to the beach. Dog-friendly!