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Barbary Coast Trail 2017-05-23T17:58:44+00:00

Guided ToursBarbary Coast Trail insignia

Guided tours are led by SFMHS volunteers. They are free for current SFMHS members, $15 for non-members. Reservations are required; call 415-537-1105 ext 0, or email rsvp@sfhistory.org. See calendar for upcoming tours.

The full 3.7-mile trail is divided into four approximately equal segments, as follows:


Part 1: Silver Strikes, Earthquakes and Lion Dancers
– Market Street, Union Square, and Chinatown

From devastation to dynamic rebirth, this tour showcases San Francisco’s “rising” after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. You will learn about Union Square, which evolved from a remote sand dune to the commercial center of San Francisco; stroll down Maiden Lane; and explore the narrow streets and alleyways of the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

Part 2: Gold Rushers, Shanghaiiers and Jazz Dancers – Portsmouth Square, Jackson Square, and the Barbary Coast

From the birthplace of the Gold Rush and the village of Yerba Buena, walk Commercial Street to the original shoreline, the Pony Express headquarters site, the grave of a Gold Rush–era ship, and the Jackson Square historic district where Gold Rush and Barbary Coast–era buildings remain. Finally, visit the notorious Barbary Coast, home to shanghaiers, vigilantes, and “Terrific” Street.

Part 3: Hipsters, Paesani and Semaphore Hill – North Beach, Washington Square, and Telegraph Hill

Explore the artistic and cultural traditions of North Beach, from Italian immigrants to free-spirited Beats. Visit Washington Square in the heart of North Beach and Coit Tower, where historic Depression-era murals picture San Francisco’s tumultuous past.

Note: This portion of the tour includes steep hills and stairways. Attendees who have difficulty with hills or stairs will end their tour at Washington Square.

Part 4: Stevedores, Feluccas and Windjammers – Northern Waterfront, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Aquatic Park

Explore San Francisco’s past as a port city and cover the waterfront from the days of sail to the era of the longshoreman. Follow the Great Seawall, San Francisco’s largest public works project, to Fisherman’s Wharf, past two WWII vessels and the Hyde Street Pier, boasting the largest collection of historic ships in the United States. The tour ends at the Streamline Moderne Aquatic Park bathhouse, home to the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Self-Guided Tours

The Barbary Coast Trail can also be a self-guided walking tour, using the printable map or a trail guide.

Cancellation Policy for Prepaid Tours and Events

For tours and special events requiring advance payment, only cancellations received at least five (5) business days prior to the event receive a full refund. Cancellations received with less than five (5) business days notice may be credited towards future SFMHS events (within six months). Tours or events that are canceled due to weather or other reasons will be refunded within five (5) business days of the event.

NO refunds are made for no-shows or early departures.

Barbary Coast Trail® is a registered trademark.


Barbary Coast Trail Guidebooks

Two Barbary Coast Trail guides, written by trail founder Daniel Bacon, are currently available to enrich the experience of your self-guided walking tour. Trail guides are available at local bookstores, visitor information centers, and online.

Barbary Coast Trail Official Guide
32-page full-color guide includes map, illustrations, site descriptions and old photos.
Purchase the guide here.


Walking San Francisco on the Barbary Coast Trail
247-page paperback includes maps, trail guide, anecdotal history of early San Francisco, and tips on restaurants and fun things to do along the trail.
Purchase the guide here.