This weekend my friend from San Diego was visiting and she wanted to go somewhere in the bay area she hadn’t been before. I showed her pictures of the summer before when I took pictures at the San Francisco Secret Swings also known as the Kirby Cove Swings (one featured below) and she decided that would be a fun trip to make. My other friend from Orange County was in town as well so all three of us drove up to Marin County early Saturday morning to embark on the hike down to the swing.
I made sure to check that the swing was still there a year later. Many secret swing spots unfortunately have the swings cut down by anonymous figures who want to ruin everyone’s Instagrams! For example the Billy Goat Hill Swing in San Francisco and the La Jolla Secret Swings in San Diego were cut down too cruelly before I had a chance to enjoy them (take an Instagram there).
Through my extensive Instagram research, although it was not the same swing as the year before, there was still the existence of a swing so we embarked hopeful that we would be able to capture the swings on our social media.
To get to this secret swing spot, there is a little known trail that leads down from the Marin Golden Gate look out spots as pictured above which leads down the the campgrounds that surround Kirby Cove. One piece of advice if you care to venture down to Kirby Cove, is that the look out spots are highly populated with tourists and there is little to no parking. Not only no parking, but high intensity driving situations on a one lane in each direction road that wraps around cliffs. All the while people divert into the opposing lane, stop abruptly, and overall drive recklessly in the attempt to take photos or park at these lookout spots.
I recommend going early in the morning to make sure that you can park in one of the few parking spots along this road. I had to park at the farthest lookout spot from the bridge to be sure I wouldn’t have to struggle to find a spot. This does make the trek longer, but it was an ease of mind to not have to stress over parking.
The trailhead for Kirby Cove starts at the second look out spot if you count starting at the Golden Gate Bridge. It is pretty hard to miss but it is at the right side of the look out space. There is a white gate there preventing cars from going down the path. Although people camping in Kirby Cove can drive down the path with permissions that I am unaware of how to get (probably through the camp rangers) but you need to be able to unlock the gate to drive down. I have seen cars driving up the trail both times I was hiking down the trail. However, the gate is not a hurdle because it is very easy for a hiker to walk through the gate because there is a break in-between the gate large enough for a person but not large enough for a car.
As you go down the path, there is a great spot where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge which is actually much better than the Marin Lookout Spots in my opinion. What starts out as a dirt trail turns into more of a forest landscape and is very beautiful. I recommend bringing a reusable water bottle for the trek as well as wearing more suitable shoes such as tennis shoes because the hike has a sloped decline going down and incline going up that is difficult without the right foot ware.
Continue walking down the path and heading towards the shore. There will be a series of stairs that lead down the the beach part of Kirby Cove. The beach can be rocky and the tide generally is high so be sure to wear foot ware that you do not care about getting wet or muddy. The view from Kirby Cove is beautiful enough to make the trip itself in my opinion. I love the bay water with a unique angle of the Golden Gate as well as the San Francisco city skyline under the bridge. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take pictures here as well.
Once you reach the shore of Kirby Cove, fear not if you do not see the swing right away, the swing is on the opposite side of the cove. Continue the short walk over to the other side and typically there is a wait for the swing. With the swing being not well known, I have only had to wait for one group to finish on the swing each of the times I have visited, so it’s not too bad. I once waited over an hour to take a picture on a hike in San Diego to Potato Chip Rock, so this wait was nothing in comparison.
When I got there this year, there was a new swing, but this swing was far superior. There was a thicker piece of wood for the seat and there was two strings on the side instead of one in the middle. This made it a lot easier to get on and stay on the swing. The swing is pretty high off the ground so you many need helpers to hold the swing down while you climb up on it. My friends and I stood up on the tree branch below to climb onto the swing with one leg first and then jumping up with your other leg.
I love the Kirby Cove Swing because the hike is beautiful and not that many people have made the visit here. This is an adventure I highly recommend but be prepared to spend at least 2 hours on this hike unless you want to run down and up the trial. Good luck and may the swing never be cut!