The Bay Area’s 5 Best Lighthouse Hikes

How do you feel about stunning coastal views?

December 14, 2017 9:00 am

Our coast is dotted with lighthouses, from Point Pinos to Point Arena.  

Conveniently, most are surrounded by hikes of staggering natural beauty.

Are you ready for the most picturesque hike you’ll take this holiday season?

Along with post-hike sleepovers ranging from $18 a night to a one-bedroom apartment with a wood-burning fireplace?

Light this way.

Point Pinos

Near: Monterey

Constructed: 1855

Historical tidbit: This is the oldest existing lighthouse on the West Coast — early keepers had to brave grizzlies and cougars on the three-mile trek into town for supplies.

Hike: The 2.7-mile Asilomar State Beach and Coastal trail connects the beach with the lighthouse property. Come in early spring for wildflowers.

Stay: Our pick is the Lighthouse Lodge, within walking distance of the lighthouse and beach and about 12 percent the price of a room at the nearby Lodge at Pebble Beach.

Point Montara

Near: Half Moon Bay

Constructed: 1875/1928

Historical tidbit: It once took between 150,000 and 200,000 thousands pounds of coal a year to power a 12-inch fog signal.

Hike: Set off from the hostel to Point Pillar Bluff, where you’ll walk the 1.4-mile Jean Lauer Trail, a part of the California Coastal Trail — or just keep going until you hit the Oregon border.

Stay: At the $95-a-night lighthouse hostel

Pigeon Point

Near: Pescadero, CA

Constructed: 1871

Historical tidbit: When first lit, this lighthouse — at 115 feet, the tallest in California — was powered by refined lard oil.

Hike: Wait for low tide for this 4.5-mile beachside walk.

Stay: Adults can sleep in lighthouse hostel’s dorm rooms for around $30, with kids between $14 and $16 — a steal for families.

Point Bonita

Near: Sausalito, CA

Constructed: 1855/1877

Historical tidbit: This lighthouse, built in 1855 atop a bluff, was the third built on the West Coast. But 22 years later, its top half was moved from its original position to a lower site, due to fog.

Hike: There are hundreds of miles of trails within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, of which this is part. There’s also a steep, half-mile trail to the lighthouse itself.

Stay: The closest accommodations to the lighthouse is Bicentennial Campground, within the National Park.

Point Arena

Near: Stornetta, CA

Constructed: 1870/1908

Historical tidbit: The original lighthouse (destroyed in the 1906 earthquake)  at one point required keepers to “hand-crank a 160-pound weight up the center shaft of the lighthouse every 75 minutes to keep the lens turning.”

Hike: The Lighthouse Trail goes (spoiler) right to the lighthouse. For additional miles, consider this.

Stay: The Head Keeper’s House provides a wood-burning fireplace that you will definitely want to make use of.


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