Thoughts, ideas, comments, diatribes, and rambles. A subjective take.

Marin Headlands Run

On break in San Francisco, I was getting too fat and lazy, immersed as I was in the free-cookies-and-beer world of Air BnB headquarters. Ethan said that I would be remiss if I didn’t make it to the Marin Headlands for a run– that it was like “running through a Patagonia ad“.

The golden gate bridge, on my return trip.

The golden gate bridge, on my return trip.

Well, SF public transit really sucks, and there are only busses to the headlands on the weekends. This was frustrating. After hitting my head against a table for a few hours trying to figure out a ride (driving in SF also sucks), I decided to do what I usually do and turn a simple run into a big adventure by biking there and back.

Armed with a cruiser bike borrowed from my Air BnB host (thanks Ian!) I navigated the bike-unfriendly bike routes of San Francisco, up and over the tourist clogged golden gate bridge, and out to the quiet, foggy headlands.

The headlands are a weird space. They’re wild, calm, foggy, and a little desolate. They’re also bespeckled with the remnants of WWII military defenses: bunkers for 16″ 1-ton guns and silos for Nike missiles designed to defend against the imminent Soviet invasion Japanese invasion (corrected: not a cold war remnant, but a relic of defenses against the Japanese naval fleet).

Bunker, with barracks below.

Bunker, with barracks below.

Battery townsend, old home of a 16", 1-ton shell-firing gun that could hit a target at 25 miles.

Battery Townsley, old home of a 16″, 1-ton shell-firing gun that could hit a target at 25 miles.

A hilltop position along the Marin Headlands, ready to spot the invading Soviets.

A hilltop position along the Marin Headlands, ready to spot the invading Soviets Japanese.

The running itself looks easy, but perhaps due to the hour’s bike there, felt hard. Always a hill, always a hill. Thankfully, each hill yielded some very nice views of the next hill, as birds soared around on the sea thermals and waves hit the coast below.


Stairs down towards ‘Pirate Cove’, en route to Muir Beach.

Just beyond Muir beach

The trail skirting the bluffs just beyond Muir beach

Much to my surprise, I encountered my first bobcat on this run. I spotted him from a distance, silhouetted against the ridge, and then stalked up to him. He looked sleepy and let me get quite close before jogging down the ridge with me in tow. Not what I expected to find yesterday. What a beautiful animal.

A young bobcat, a very tolerant bobcat.

A young bobcat, a very tolerant bobcat.

Yesterday left me tired and satisfied. I’m comforted yet again that there is good adventure within striking distance of major metropolises, good adventure which costs nothing but some good, honest effort.

I still prefer the grandeur of running in the mountains, with their sharp ridges and contrasts, to the pastel weather and grey overcast of the coast. It will be good to get back to Mt Hood.


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  • Jeff fink on Sep 26, 2014 Reply

    One small historical correction. The bunkers at the headlands aren’t Cold War relics, they date from world war II when there was a fear of Japanese invasion following Pearl Harbor.

    • Patrick Fink on Sep 26, 2014 Reply

      Corrected! Thanks for helping me not look like an idiot.

  • cecilia schefstrom on Sep 25, 2014 Reply

    Wonderful photos Patrick.

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