San Francisco Photo Tour

Sutro Baths

Catch the MUNI bus. To get to the Sutro Baths, catch the #38 Geary - Point Lobos bus heading west, ride it all the way to the end of the line. When you get off the bus, walk across Point Lobos Street to the sign below. Now walk about one block down the hill to the parking lot on the right side of the Sutro Baths. Note: If you are in a wheelchair you will probably want to stay on the sidewalk and not go down into the baths ruins.Wheelchair accessible
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Sign at Sutro Baths

The Sutro Baths is still a place for visitors out by the Pacific Ocean, even after it burned down to the ground several years ago.

Sutro Baths with water in them.

Off to the right side of this photo is the parking lot. From there you can walk down a steep path to the Sutro Baths remains below. If you walk all the way to the rear of the lot there is a shore line trail that is a favorite destination for hikers. If you walk far enough it will lead you past a nude beach, there is another nude beach on the east side of Bakers Beach.

Sutro Baths with water in them.

The park service recommends that you stay on the main trails, because the cliffs here are steep and unstable. If you have time I suggest you at least walk part way along the trail and explore some of San Francisco's most natural appearing coastline, and see views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the west side.

Sutro Baths at low tide

Now if you walk on down the hill to the first restaurant on the right, there is a trail down to the baths that is not as steep as the other trail.

The Sutro Baths was built in 1891 by Adolph Sutro at a cost of $250,000. Spread over three acres the massive stained glass enclosure contained one fresh water pool, five salt water pools at various temperatures and a very large salt water pool at ocean temperature. Together the pools held 1,650,000 gallons of sea water and could be filled or emptied in one hour by the high or low tides.

Sutro Baths cave entrance.

If you look in very center of the photo above you can see a cave that you can walk through to the other side which is called Seal Rocks Beach. There is also a stair way to the top viewing point from down there or there is a level path from the parking lot to the point.

Inside Sutro cave.

It is not a very long cave, but while you are in it stop by this hole and listen to the ocean splashing through the rocks below.

Incase you are wondering what ever happened to the Sutro Baths. Due to a lack of revenue from the 1930s until the 1960s, the baths were closed and sold to developers in 1966. They were going to demolish the building and build high rise apartments. During demolition the enormous building was destroyed by a accidental fire.

Seal Rocks Beach

On the other side of the cave is Seal Beach, this is as far as most people go. The rocks above are to wet and slippery to walk safely on.

During 1980 the Sutro Baths area became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, today they are still popular for the scenic and recreational values.

Now turn around and walk back through the cave.

Seal Rocks

Once you are out of the cave, look to your right and you will see Seal Rocks. These rocks used to be home home to a colony of seals and marine birds, now most of the seals have taken up residence on the docks next to Pier 39.

Sometimes during low tide people walk out to the rocks and climb on them. I have seen people unable to climb down from the rocks before the tide comes in, as in the photo above.

Now get back on the path and walk back up the hill toward the Cliff House.

The next stop on my Photo Tour is the "Cliff House, and Giant Camera", to go there Click Continue Tour below.

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Photographed and created by David T. Smith

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