On the bridge, looking north.

Not every hike has to entail scaling a mountain, or bushwhacking through uneven terrain. But for me though, a great view is almost a requirement. And where is the view any better than on the Golden Gate Bridge?

I had last walked across the bridge nearly 20 years ago and had been pining (well, not pining, but eager) to do so again for the past few years. Fate and scheduling combined to unexpectedly place me in San Francisco on a gorgeous sunny day in the middle of Presidents’ Day weekend, so it was time to walk the bridge. Despite the wind, it was extremely crowded, no surprise given the holiday weekend and the sunshine, but the bridge is a long span – about 1.7 miles each way, once the longest bridge span in the world, and now number 9 on the list – so the crowds have a way of thinning themselves out.

The trek took almost two hours, which included significant time for skyline-gazing at numerous points along the way and checking out all the historical plaques and information on both the northern and southern ends. Obviously it can be done a lot quicker or slower, but that’s your call, depending on your individual preferences and what else you hope to do that day. I was expecting gusty winds given that it was only about 50 degrees out and wintry weather has been upon us, but it was fairly mild and I didn’t need a coat. The bridge, as anyone who drives across it knows, is an engineering and architectural marvel.

(It’s been reported that the first formal discussions about how to build the bridge were mapped out at a special convention in Santa Rosa in 1923. The southern approach to the bridge, Doyle Drive, is named for Frank Doyle, who was head of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce at the time and a big proponent of the project. Click here to read Gaye LeBaron’s terrific reporting on the bridge and its link to Santa Rosa.)

You could exhaust yourself learning the trivia of the bridge, and as I walked across, I heard at least six different languages being spoken. I’m willing to bet that many of those walkers were sharing tidbits of information. Here’s one that I learned: the bridge was open to pedestrians before it was open to cars. Just by a day, but that’s something.

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