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 features a wealth of historic sites 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 :-) Join us on a Barbary Coast Trail self-guided walking tour.
Barbary Coast Trail Map
Plan your route with this handy map of the Barbary Coast Trail in San Francisco. Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps.
Getting to the Barbary Coast Trail Terminus Via Cable Car
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 Starting Point at San Francisco's Old MintWith 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. The Barbary Coast trail is easy to follow. Just keep an eye out for the bronze medallions on the sidewalk.
The Barbary Coast Trail Around Union SquareWe continued into 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.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: I find that the San Francisco Bay Area is full of surprises. Would you agree?
Nearby Maiden Lane features a building (Now the Xanadu Gallery) designed and signed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Follow the Barbary Coast Trail Through San Francisco's ChinatownWe continued into Chinatown and were greeted by a rather friendly looking Godzill, a hapless robot...
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory hidden away on Ross Lane.
The rest of the crowd seemed immune to the art on display along the network of alleys in Chinatown.
We encountered an idyllic statue of Sun Yat Sen in the hidden park behind St. Mary's Church.
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.
The Barbary Coast Trail Through North Beach
We encountered an unexpected 360 degree rainbow as a halo around the sun on our walk through North Beach -- it was a gorgeous afternoon! We saw odds and ends in a curious window display in a North Beach storefront.
There are some gorgeous houses in this part of the city including this nicely decorated estate.
We wandered up a nearby staircase into San Francisco's smallest "park"...
The Barbary Coast Trail Descent from Telegraph Hill
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.