Golden Gate NRA, Point Bonita Lighthouse


What? : Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855, is still an active lighthouse located on cliff edge just at the opening of the San Francisco Bay to the ocean.


Where? : Located in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin Headlands section (north of San Francisco), enter the park and follow the signs to the lighthouse.

Google Map Link


When? : Year round, check for opening hours at weekends. Currently close due to Covid19.


Due note 1 : Check for visiting hours, currently it is close as result of Covid19 situation.


Due note 2: There is trailhead small parking at Point Bonita, if full of cars you can park at the nearby YMCA parking lot.


Due note 3: Look for harbor seal resting on the rocks below the cliff.


My thoughts: With all my visits I did not manage to visit it when it was open, it is disappointing because you can’t see the lighthouse from the trail or the parking lot. There is an option to see the lighthouse from a nearby hill or other points to the north.


The visit:

Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855, was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast and helped shepherd ships through the treacherous Golden Gate straits.

Located at the south west corner at the Golden Gate park Marin Headlands section, right above the opening of the bay to the ocean.

Point Bonita is still an active lighthouse, its beam can be seen for 18 miles across the water under clear conditions. In dense fog days, typical to this area, when the light signal cannot be seen, a sound system comes into play.

The lighthouse is located low near the water and not up at the hills because usually the fog clouds are higher so lower point light has more visibility.

The trail:

A half-mile paved trail that is steep in parts leading to the lighthouse below.

The short tunnel, halfway to the lighthouse, cross the large rock but it is open only during visiting hours.

Unfortunately, you cannot see the lighthouse from the trail.

The nearest place that has the lighthouse view is from the nearby “antenna hill”. This is “non-official” trail, not maintained and at short section you are hiking right on the cliff edge, be careful!

The trail starts at the parking-lot roundabout near the restrooms, hike up the road and just before the antenna turn right and circle to the other side of the fenced area. From here at the edge of the cliff you have good close by view on the lighthouse, the lighthouse bridge is not visible from this location.


There are few other lighthouses viewing point farther north on the cliffs, hike to Rodeo Lagoon Vista Point and see the lighthouse.