The Barbary Coast Trail -- A Journey Back in Time and a Walk Through San Francisco's Gold Rush History

Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Shop Window Display
Ever since we moved to San Francisco, I've been intrigued by the Barbary Coast Trail.  There are shiny plaques in the sidewalk through Chinatown, North Beach, and the Union Square area pointing out the route.  Connecting the city's most important sites from the days of the Gold Rush, the tour is a wealth of history and a good excuse for some fresh air and exercise -- we covered more than six miles.  As it turns out, this will be my last post from San Francisco for a while.  As you'll soon see, we've moved on to another part of the world...for now.  Stay tuned!  We embarked on this last hurrah in San Francisco with friends.  Ekibo deserves credit for a number of the snaps in this post -- he has a much fancier camera than I do :-)

View Barbary Coast Trail in a larger map
We started at the Fisherman's Wharf terminus of the Hyde Street Cable Car line and watched mesmerized as the operator turned the vehicle around by hand.  
We quickly boarded and were on our way!
Barbary Coast Trail - Cable Car Terminus
The Hyde Street Cable Car line is particularly touristy -- witness the photographers documenting our approach up the hill.
Barbary Coast Trail - Riding the Cable Car
Barbary Coast Trail - Photographers Riding the Cable Car
Barbary Coast Trail - Friendly Cable Car Driver
Our cable car driver was hilarious and fun but I have to say he wasn't smiling quite so much when the cable car broke down en route to the far terminus and we were forced to debark ahead of schedule near the top of Nob Hill and this sign for the Tonga Room -- "Paradise is Just Around the Corner" we were promised.
Barbary Coast Trail - Tonga Room Advertisement
With a little extra foot power, we made our way to the start of the Barbary Coast Trail in front of the Old Mint.  I had a book, Walking San Francisco on the Barbary Coast Trail that contained detailed descriptions of all the important places along the route.  While it would also make for good armchair reading, we were regaled on the spot with tales of how heroic workers protected the Old Mint and the gold inside against the fire that erupted after the 1906 earthquake.
Barbary Coast Trail - The Old Mint
Barbary Coast Trail - Signage
We continued into Union Square...
Barbary Coast Trail - Union Square
There were some interesting sidewalk plaques unrelated to the Barbary Coast Trail in the park.  We saw both a menorah and a director's chair.
Barbary Coast Trail - Menorrah
Barbary Coast Trail - Director's Chair
Nearby Maiden Lane features a building (Now the Xanadu Gallery) designed and signed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Barbary Coast Trail - Frank Lloyd Wright Cornerstone
Barbary Coast Trail - Xanadu Gallery
We continued into Chinatown and were greeted by a rather friendly looking Godzilla...
Barbary Coast Trail - Godzilla in Chinatown
...a hapless robot...
Barbary Coast Trail - Robot Street Art
...and fortune cookies!  We were able to watch the production process at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory hidden away on Ross Lane.
Barbary Coast Trail - Chinatown Fortune Cookie Factory
Barbary Coast Trail - Chinatown Fortune Cookies
The rest of the crowd seemed immune to the art on display along the network of alleys in Chinatown.
Barbary Coast Trail - Chinatown Street Art
We encountered an idyllic statue of Sun Yat Sen in the hidden park behind St. Mary's Church.
Barbary Coast Trail - Sun Yat Sen Statue
We continued following the trail through Portsmouth Square Park which features a variety of striking sculptures.
Barbary Coast Trail - Portsmouth Square Park
I loved this composition with pigeon perched upon a statue with a backdrop of the Transamerica Pyramid.
Barbary Coast Trail - Statue
Barbary Coast Trail - Statue with Pigeon
We had already walked quite a distance so when we passed Francis Ford Coppola's Cafe Zoetrope we knew it was the perfect place for lunch.  There were four of us at lunch so we opted to share a pitcher of Coppola's fine vino with our meal.
Barbary Coast Trail - Cafe Zoetrope, Pitcher of Coppola Wine
Refueled, we continued on and saw this Chinese street band performing near the North Beach border.
Barbary Coast Trail - Chinese Street Band
We encountered an unexpected 360 degree rainbow as a halo around the sun on our walk through North Beach -- it was a gorgeous afternoon!
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Rainbow
We saw odds and ends in a curious window display in a North Beach storefront.
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Shop Window Display
The trail took an uphill turn toward Coit Tower where we chanced upon "Poet's Corner".
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Poet's Corner
We could see Coit Tower in the distance but decided not to take the uphill detour to the majestic fire hose itself.
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Coit Tower
There are some gorgeous houses in this part of the city including this nicely decorated estate.
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Estate
We wandered up a nearby staircase into San Francisco's smallest "park"...
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Staircase
The views were lovely but the "park" was little more than a small balcony at the top of the staircase.
Barbary Coast Trail - Bay Views
Barbary Coast Trail - North Beach Staircase
We descended Telegraph Hill and emerged onto the Embarcadero and wound our way through Fisherman's Wharf back to our starting point by the cable car stop.  The Barbary Coast Trail gave us a fantastic excuse to explore some of San Francisco's nooks and crannies before our onward journey.  Talk to you soon from the Emerald Isle ;-)
Barbary Coast Trail - Sidewalk Trail Marker

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: The Barbary Coast Trail -- A Journey Back in Time and a Walk Through San Francisco's Gold Rush History
The Barbary Coast Trail -- A Journey Back in Time and a Walk Through San Francisco's Gold Rush History
A self-guided walking tour of the Barbary Coast Trail in San Francisco, California.
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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