Defending San Francisco: Fort Funston Tour - Atlas Obscura
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San Francisco, California

Defending San Francisco: Fort Funston Tour

Beneath the wavy dunes lies a century of fortifications.

There's more to Fort Funston than hang gliders and dog walkers—it began as San Francisco's most remote (and according to some, most desolate) defense post.

From World War I to the Cold War, the post featured barracks, massive gun emplacements, trenches, antiaircraft guns, and nuclear-capable Nike missiles that protected the southern approach to San Francisco Bay. Today, the remains of many of these fortifications lie buried beneath the city’s last large expanse of natural dunes.

On this walk, thanks to the company of historian and retired park ranger, John Martini, we'll learn all about this hidden history. A native San Franciscan and lifelong researcher into the history of California and the American West, John is now an independent consultant specializing in historical research. He appears regularly on PBS, the History Channel, A&E Network, and National Geographic Channel.


  • Difficulty: This is an moderate, 2-hour walk, including walking across unpaved, sandy areas.
  • Meet in the paved parking lot near the hang glider launch site.

Questions? Email Bart Bernhardt at

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