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Crissy Field Exploration

Crissy Field's 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline are a favorite place for recreation and enjoying wildlife.
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Rating: 3 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.3 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview :  Crissy Field is a stunning park site within the Golden Gate National Parks. Crissy Field's 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline are ... more »

Tips:  Monday through Sunday
9 AM - 5 PM
General Office (415) 561-7690
Fax (415) 561-7695
Bookstore (415) 561-7761
Café (415) 561-7756

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Points of Interest

Across the street from Crissy Field center, a wide path invites visitors to venture into the park's dunes and marshes.

At the entrance to a path that crosses Crissy Field marsh, a sign reminds visitors they're in a delicately restored area that needs to be treated with care.

Birds frequent this area, which looks much like a lagoon but is technically... More

Whether in the marsh or along the dunes, you're likely to come across some majestic and sizable waterfowl during a walk at Crissy Field. This great egret, one of the larger members of the heron family, was spotted alongside the marsh waters.

The great egret's signature costume is a yellow bill and long black legs, as opposed to its cousin, the... More

3. Looking down from the bridge

From the bridge, glance down at the muddy sand below and you'll see a field of holes that take several different shapes. Critters like ghost shrimp, clams, and polychate worms make their homes by burrowing into these sands.

The appearance of mud in the salt marsh changes with the tides. The tide was out when this photos was taken, revealing burrows... More

4. Scrubby dune habitat

Turn right at the end of the bridge, walk a short ways, and you'll find yourself sandwiched between two different habitats. On your right, a scrubby dune is covered with low-lying bushes and other plants that enjoy a drier, sandy soils.

Chamisso Bush Lupin is a common find on the dunes. In the spring, Chamisso Bush Lupin produces violet flowers.... More

5. Dune swail

On the left is a habitat called dune swail. This patch is now the only example of a habitat, characterized by tall grasses, short trees, and occasional cattails, that was once common in San Francisco. And we're fortunate it's here: not included in the original Crissy Field plan, the dune swail was added to address other needs that arose in the... More

6. View from second bridge

Closer to the beach, a rocky inlet provides hunting and hiding grounds for lots of critters. Here, another egret tiptoes its way around, searching for a morsel.

A closer view of a snowy egret. You can identify it by its black beak and yellow legs, the opposite color scheme of its cousin, the great egret.

Keep an eye on the surface of the marsh's... More

7. Two-sided dune

Rounding a dune near the beach, you can see evidence of the wind's effects on plant life. Low-lying shrubs and other plants cover the more sheltered side (on the left in this picture) like a rugged carpet, while the windy side boasts mostly sparse bunches of American dune grass interspersed with hearty wildflowers.

The native beach strawberry... More

8. Dune grass

On the windward side of the dune, dune grass helps to anchor shifting sands and retain the dune's shape. Dune grass grows from stems that spread underground, an ingenious adaptation that keeps the plant from being buried by windblown sand.

The constantly shifting dune landscape at Crissy Field beach means a fence that surrounded a dune a month ago ... More

Looking west along the beach, you can follow the flow of water as it winds its way inland to the salt marsh. On its way, it carves an ever-changing channel. The not-so-distant Golden Gate bridge adds to the scenery.

A walk along the beach brings you to the inlet of the salt marsh. Depending on the tides, you may have to wade through some shallow... More

10. Four-legged friends

Crissy Field beach is a favorite for folks out walking their dogs. You'll often see many four-legged friends digging together in the sand or swimming for frisbees in the waves.

Signs of a day at the beach.

The sounds of Crissy Field are not to be missed.