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Barbary Coast Trail, San Francisco

#168 of 190 in Tours in San Francisco
Historical Tour · Walking tour
The Barbary Coast Trail is a marked trail that connects a series of historic sites and several local history museums in San Francisco, California. Approximately 180 bronze medallions and arrows embedded in the sidewalk mark the 3.8-mile (6.1 km) trail.

The historic sites of the Barbary Coast Trail relate primarily to the period from the California Gold Rush of 1849 to the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, a period when San Francisco grew from a small village to an important shipping port.

Sites along the trail include the Old Mint, a national historic landmark; Union Square; Maiden Lane; Old St. Mary's Cathedral, first Catholic cathedral West of the Rockies; T'ien Hou temple, one of the oldest still-operating Chinese temples in the United States; Wells Fargo History Museum; Pony Express headquarters site; Jackson Square Historic District, which contains the last cluster of Gold Rush and Barbary Coast-era buildings in San Francisco; Old Ship Saloon, once a shanghaiing den; Coit Tower; Fisherman's Wharf; SF Maritime National Historical Park, which maintains a large collection of historic ships; and Ghirardelli Square.

Each end of the Barbary Coast Trail is connected by the Hyde-Powell cable car line, itself a national historic landmark.
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Barbary Coast Trail reviews

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  • I returned to walk and explore the Barbary Trail in San Francisco. It is a 3.8 mile walk in total. It covers many of the historical areas of San Francisco. It was founded by historian Daniel Bacon....  more »
  • We lacked the time and energy to walk the entire Barbary Coast Trail, but we did parts of it intermittently. Our most recent visit took us to Union Square, Chinatown and Portsmouth Square, Old St...  more »
  • An excellent introduction to historic San Francisco! Get the guide book at the Tourist Information Office in the (very sketchy) Bart Powell Street Station. This is also near the beginning of the Barbary Coast Trail. Once you find the trail, you'll see very clear markers - big bronze plaques more than a foot across embedded in the concrete sidewalk - that indicate every turn of the trail. This is a 3.8 mile walk so get your mind (and feet) ready. It will take you three times as long as you think because every stop is worth spending time to read, study and absorb. And there are 15 significant stops along the way. There are plenty of cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants along the path so you could take time off your tour for lunch. The trail starts near one terminus of the cable car and ends at the other so this makes a nice way to return to your starting point.
  • There is a book titled, “Walking The Barbary Coast Trail” by Daniel Bacon. It tells all about the history and describes the things that you pass on the Trail. I have taken many friends and family on this walk and it is always a big hit.

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