The Northern California coast is no tropical paradise of white-sand beaches and gentle turquoise waters. Our ocean is cold and rugged and full of sharks. Our surfers brave dark, 50-foot waves that crash into rocky underwater caverns. Nowhere in the city is our harsh splendor displayed better than along the Coastal Trail at Land's End, which starts over the bay, and leads you — relatively painlessly — along the jagged coastal cliffs that drop to the Pacific Ocean. The trail offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands, as well as access to several beaches. As walkers approach Ocean Beach, one can't help imagining how those who first stumbled into the mouth of the San Francisco Bay must have been blown away bearing witness to the foggy, tumultuous ocean giving way to miles of sunny, peaceful waters. After your head hurts from all the imagining, grab a drink or a bite to eat at the nearby Cliff House and smoke a medicinal doobie on the beach — this is California, baby!
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