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How to Visit Kirby Cove (San Francisco, CA)

Kirby Cove offers another perspective on the Bay Area that I love so much. From Kirby Cove, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge on your left, Daly City straight ahead of you, and out into the Pacific Ocean. In this article I will show you how to visit Kirby Cove and provide directions on how to get there.

Directions for Kirby Cove:

Getting to Kirby Cove can be a little tricky if you are new to the area (or even if you’re not), as evident by the numerous people that asked for directions on our way back up from the Cove. Here, I break down the steps so you can make sure you successfully get there and check out those #views.

You can park near Battery Spencer (pictured as the starting point on the map below). Once you find parking, Battery Spencer will be on your left and if you continue slightly past it, there will be a trailhead sign with directions for Kirby Cove. It will be about a 0.8 mile curving walk downhill, which features some great views and abandoned missile sites.

how to visit Kirby Cove San Francisco CA

If you are unable to find parking near Battery Spencer (especially common during peak times like the weekends), then try the parking lot near the bridge at the base of the hill. We got lucky and found parking there (which is free and unlimited – a rarity in the Bay). As you walk up the Coastal Trail to Battery Spencer, you have the added benefit of seeing more views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, as pictured below.



If you have the time, I recommend stopping by Battery Spencer too to get some good shots of the Golden Gate. You will be able to get much more up close and personal with it than you will at Kirby Cove. My friend and I took a quick detour there to take this touristy shot #noshame.


Then we began the 0.8 mile hike downhill and passed by this abandoned graffitied missile site.


This is a shot of how the trail looks like. Walking along this trail was calming and with the fresh rain, we were able to smell and breathe in that good outdoorsy mix of soil and woods.


Once you continue down the trail, you will come across a campsite. Continue heading straight ahead towards the ocean.


Then, you will come across some picnic benches. Veer left and continue heading towards the general direction of the ocean. You will also see some bunkers, looking like leftovers from the set of Lost.


Keep on walking and then you will see the stairs that lead you down to Kirby Cove!



And then what you’ve been waiting for…the swing that’s become infamous thanks to Instagram.





1. Be prepared for all weather elements – when we went it was cold, rainy, warm, windy, all in the span of 30 minutes. If it’s rainy, make sure you have shoes with decent traction because the trail will get muddy and slippery.
2. There are bathrooms at the campground with toilet paper but no soap so you might want to bring hand sanitizer if you’re a germaphobe like me.

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in…

1. Best Bay Area Hikes
2. Top 10 Places to Go in San Francisco
3. The Trek to Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur

(Visited 25,504 times, 21 visits today)

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  • Reply
    April 23, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for the details! Helped us to find parking and our way to the cove.
    It was beautiful.

    • Reply
      April 24, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Yay, I’m glad you had a great time! Hope you got some beautiful pictures 🙂

  • Reply
    May 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Are there usually lots of people there? Around what time is best to go to avoid crowds?

    • Reply
      May 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Rainy, there are typically more people on the weekend, especially during peak tourist months like in the summer. If you have the flexibility, I would go on a weekday to avoid the crowds!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Hi great info! This is in our list of things to see on our California road trip in September! We’ll be in the bay area on a Fri-Sun so I imagine it might be busy then. Anyway my question is do you think it would be possible to Uber to and from Battery Spencer? We will not have a car as… we are both too intimidated to drive in SanFran haha.

    • Reply
      August 1, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Hi Amy – I haven’t Ubered to/from Battery Spencer but it should be doable, depending on your budget. I went to their fare estimator on their website ( and entered in “downtown SF” and “Battery Spencer” as your destination and departure location. The fares range from $14 for a Uber pool to $57 for a Uber black. Good luck!

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