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Explore the national sites near the Golden Gate Bridge

Folsom Lake Entertainer
By: Ken Larson, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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SAN FRANCISCO CA - Day tripping is a specialty of mine and every weekend I am busy exploring our region. Judging by the calls of our readers, these columns serve as ideas and inspiration for people to pack up a picnic lunch and head out for another adventure. This month I am taking you to San Francisco to discover three of our National Parks, located less than two hours away from Folsom Lake. The Golden Gate Bridge recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and makes the perfect back drop to visit three of the National Parks in the San Francisco area. I have hiked and photographed over 120 of our National Parks and the areas around the Golden Gate bridge have incredible historical significance. According to the National Park Service brochure, the natural history of the Presidio is a story both of change and constancy. ?The lands at the Golden Gate were forged over millennia by powerful geological events and shaped by wind and fog. Grasslands, sand dunes, and woodland were rimmed with saltwater marshes, lakes, and creeks.? The wonderful thing about The Presidio, despite being minutes away from skyscrapers and urban development, it is virtually an island preserved by time. Much of this status to keep it a historical site is due to the fact that it was an Army post for many years. The natural beauty is everywhere as it is home to over 350 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and fish. In 1994, the Presidio became a national park site and its lands are preserved. Another incredible area just across the bay is Point Bonita Lighthouse, which has aided ships navigating these waters for more then 150 years. With the discovery of gold in 1848, San Francisco became the main port of these gold seekers from around the world. The lighthouse, which is being renovated, is the third lighthouse on the West Coast and was completed in 1855. The area near Point Bonita is one of the region?s gems. With the historic bridge looming in the background, another National Park site just across the bay is Fort Baker. It sits on 335 acres and is at the north side of the bridge. This beautiful historic area includes over two dozen military buildings dating from the early 1900s. From the lush green hillsides to the rocky shorelines, this area contains numerous habitat and offers an extensive trail system. Fort Baker is named for Edward Baker, a former U.S. Senator from Oregon who was active in 1850s California politics. He was killed leading a regiment of Union troops in the Civil War. He is buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio. There is so much to enjoy around the Golden Gate Bridge but these National Parks are a must if you enjoy beauty and history. * * * Publishers note: Last month in the Entertainer we featured the incredible hike up Horsetail Falls, a story that also ran in the 50 Things To Do. I gathered some of the information from the National Forest website and also used a great deal of material from a website belonging to Leon Turnbull Photography, not realizing this site was not associated with the National Forest site. I apologize for using the material without giving his site credit. Reach Ken Larson at kenl@goldcountrymedia.com.