You don't need to seek a wild, distant spot to enjoy the craggy rocks and cliffs of California’s coast. Just visit Lands End, at the western tip of San Francisco, and follow a 3.5-mile leg of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Coastal Trail.
The trail begins above the ruins of Sutro Baths, a complex of public pools that drew residents in the early 1900s. The first overlook offers fine views of the Golden Gate and its ship traffic, Point Lobos and Seal rock, and the steep Marin Headlands across the strait. To the blare of foghorns, continue east past stands of cypresses and native shrubs.
From Eagle’s Point you can spy on compact China Beach, bordered by exclusive homes, and beyond it the Golden Gate Bridge, with Angel Island floating in the background. nps.gov/goga .
Photography by Anita Bowen 
This article was first published in July 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.