Fort Funston Beach


Rating: C

What's the only Golden Gate National Recreation Area park where you can walk your dog without a leash, as well as the spot where the world record (1,333 feet by Erin Hemmings) for the farthest tossed object (a flying ring) was set in 2003? Answer: Fort Funston, which is affectionately called Fort Fun by its fans. Known for its magnetic sand, steady winds (especially in March and October) that make its cliffs popular for hang gliding, and, in particular, its dogs, who appear here with their human escorts by the hundreds, the area even attracts a few naturists from time to time. Mostly hidden away in the sand dunes on the beach, naked sunbathers usually stay away on the weekends, when families swarm the area. To keep the "fun" in Fort Funston, even on weekdays, be sure to use caution before disrobing. Translation: you should suit up quickly if you see rangers or families in the area. Authorities usually only issue several citations a year at Fort Funston, south of Ocean Beach, so, if you don't make a fuss and remain in the dunes, you may not be busted. If anyone complains, put on your beach gear right away.

Oh, and about that world record: Hemmings, of Mendocino, became the first person to ever throw something unassisted over a quarter of a mile. He'd visited Fort Funston twice, from Mendo, to prepare himself for sending his Aerobie disc, invented by Stanford's Alan Adler, into the air. Adler was offering a $1,000 prize to anyone who could break the previous world record of 1,257 feet, which had been set in 1986. Witnesses reported the disc sailed straight along the edge of the cliff for a whopping 30 seconds. Just to make sure, Hemmings' achievement was checked with a measuring device four times.

Legal status:

Part of the GGNRA, which issues citations if rangers see you nude or receive complaints.

How to find it:

From San Francisco, head west to Ocean Beach, then go south on the Great Highway. After Sloat Boulevard, the road goes uphill. From there, curve right onto Skyline Boulevard, go past one stoplight, and look for signs for Funston on the right. Turn into the public lot and find a space near the west side. At the southwest end, take the sandy steps to the beach, turn right, and walk to the dunes. Find a spot as far as possible from the parking lot. Do not go nude here on the weekends, and if you don't like dogs, go elsewhere.

The beach:

Fluffy, soft sand dunes where you can find shelter from the wind and fashion your own nude beach.

The crowd:

As you exit your car in the lot, the first thing you'll notice are all the dogs. Funston is a gathering place for the pooches and their human pals. Hang gliders from a nearby glider port and horseback riders from a local rental stable are other common sights. A few naturists sometimes use the beach on weekdays.


Lack of tolerance by rangers; privacy problems

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