EVOKE images of catastrophe,
treasure and ghosts. On San
Francisco's Shipwreck Walk, you
get a glimpse of that realm, as
well as world- class views and a
starts near Lands End and Cliff
House. It heads toward China
Beach for 1. 25 miles on a
bluff-top dirt trail, poking in
and out of a cypress forest. The
round-trip of 2.5 miles on this
Coast Trail segment takes about
way, sharp-eyed hikers can see
remnants of four ships. They're
among 30 vessels that have
wrecked close to shore.
Shipwreck Walk can be
do-it-yourself. But it's better
shared with historian Rich
Harned, a volunteer for the
Golden Gate National Recreation
professorial air is blended with
the zest of a self- acknowledged
low tides," Harned said, "you
can see the masts, posts and
boat pieces sticking up."
starts at the park benches next
to the USS San Francisco
Memorial on Camino Del Mar (just
off 48th Ave). After a short
introduction, off you go on the
Coastal Trail. And out come the
views can make your jaw drop:
the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin
Headlands, passing ships, surf,
seabirds -- and if you're lucky,
a glimpse of the Farallon
Islands 25 miles out to sea.
Point Lobos, Harned points out a
metal spar sticking from the
water at an angle -- the
sternpost of a sunken ship.
Ohioan," Harned said. "Went down
in October of '36."
described a foggy night, back
when electronic navigation
devices would have sounded like
science fiction. "The ship was
headed inbound, came up
alongside Point Lobos and got in
the rocks," he said.
storm broke the ship up into
three pieces. What we see in
down here is the sternpost off
the back third of the ship. On a
very low tide, I've done some
scrambling down in places you're
not supposed to go and found the
hull of the ship."
explained that the Coast Trail
was once a rail line, providing
transport for San Franciscans to
the Sutro Baths at Lands End. A
landslide wiped out the railroad
another viewpoint, Harned
stopped and pointed. "There," he
said. Emerging from the water's
surface was what looked like a
huge chunk of metal, and nearby
a metal pole.
Lyman Stewart," Harned said.
"The Frank Buck." He explained
that the chunk of metal is the
engine block of the Lyman
Stewart, and that the pole is
the sternpost of the Frank Buck.
Lyman Stewart became lost in
fog, Harned said, then turned
across the shipping lane, and
was rammed by a freighter. "The
China Beach, a fourth shipwreck
can be spotted, the Coos Bay.
"You can only see it at minus
tides," he said.
learn about shipwrecks, Harden
searched archives of The
Chronicle and Examiner for
accounts of all shipwrecks in
the past century. Now, he can
point out vestiges of San
Francisco history, and also
transport you back in time, to
SHIPWRECK WALK GETAWAY
- Parking, access and guided
walks are free.
Rules - Hikers, leashed dogs,
and mountain bikes permitted.
Bikes must be ridden slowly, and
walked on narrow trail sections.
Directions -- In San Francisco,
take Geary Blvd. west to the sea
(it becomes Point Lobos Ave.).
Across from Louis' Restaurant is
the Merrie Way Parking Area.
Walk a short way north on 48th
Ave./El Camino Del Mar to
Contact -- Fort Funston Ranger
Golden Gate National Recreation
Fort Mason, Building 201,
San Francisco, CA 94123;