Bridges never fail to thrill me. They are engineering marvels. They are the work of strong and brave people. Their beauty inspires poets, painters and dreamers. And they take me where I want to go.
The Golden Gate Bridge is, perhaps, one of the most famous bridges of all. Brightly painted in International Orange, it’s often shrouded in the bay’s famous fog. But when I arrived to walk it, the sun shone brightly on its iconic structure and the sparkling water that flowed beneath.
I made it my mission to see the bridge up close, to lean (carefully!) over the rails to see the water below and the city in the distance, to feel the shudder of an endless stream of noisy vehicles and wonder at the technological marvel it is.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are free to walk the bridge on sunny days from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On weekends and holidays, bikes ride one side of the bridge and walkers take to the other side. We walked on a Sunday and I liked that arrangement very much. It’s a narrow path for bikes and walkers to share.
There are parking lots on both sides of the bridge to start your hike. We crossed the bridge on one of those hop on-hop off tour buses and took the walk from the Marin County side. We had terrific views of San Francisco. Plus there was plenty going on below our feet to keep my attention, including boats, even a historic old vessel, kayaks and a flock of sea birds.
The wind was calm for our morning stroll — considering the chill in the air that was most welcome.
But the traffic was heavy and loud. A peaceful morning activity it was not. It was too noisy even to hold a conversation, really. But when your attention is transfixed by all that surrounds you it doesn’t matter too much.
I love bridges. San Francisco is lucky to have two gorgeous spans. I already wrote about the other one, the Bay Bridge. And I recently walked the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. And the Paris bridges are always romantic. Someday, the Brooklyn Bridge. What other bridges permit pedestrians? What bridge shall I stroll next? Hmmm. I look forward to it.
Ⓒ Text and photos
Mary K. Tilghman
Glad you like our bridge! It is a great attraction for a number of reasons.
You don’t mention some of the darker aspects of our orange landmark. People come from all over the world to commit suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. There are television cameras to spot potential jumpers, and signs asking people to call a suicide hotline, but the folk of San Francisco have fiercely resisted putting up any kind of suicide barrier that would mar the view you so admire. In order to discourage those who would want to be a landmark death, the newspapers no longer publish the names of those who are known to have jumped, nor do they keep a public count.
And not all the deaths are self-willed. At the Marin end of the bridge is a small plaque commemorating the death of a two-year-old boy just learning to walk. His parents let go of him so they could take a picture, and he tripped, fell, and rolled through the gap between the railing and the sidewalk, falling and dying on the rocks hundreds of feet below.
The calm wind you had must be an anomaly we’re told cos’ it was sooo windy that it could have been winter for us! LOL. And yes we really enjoyed the walk too
Bridges? London. Budapest. Prague. Bratislava. Porto. Busan. Sydney. Etc….
Wow. Better get moving. (Though for the record I have walked the bridges in London and Porto. Wonderful!)