Fort Cronkhite in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
I’m at that age where I wistfully recall the adventures of my youth, astounded at how the decades flew by and amazed that I never understood how precious every moment was as I lived each passing day.
When I was a kid, my father used to bring the family on Sunday expeditions. The one I remember most was the day we drove to Fort Cronkhite, in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was a boys-only outing; my two older brothers and I packed into Dad’s red Maverick, and off we went.
We drove north on Highway 280 from Palo Alto, into the fogbelt and up 19th Avenue, then across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Baker-Barry Tunnel. The tunnel was everything Little Me could have hoped for. I do remember Dad saying, “This would be a bad place to be during an earthquake,” though, as we drove through it.
We followed Bunker Road through the vast expanse of the recreation area out to Fort Cronkhite, where we parked and spent hours running around on Rodeo Beach and hiking up to Battery Townsley and Battery Unknown. Somehow, us boys slipped past a bent bar and got inside one of the bunkers, and engaged in one of the most absorbing explorations of my entire life. I returned 10 years later, but by then the bunker was covered with “STAY OUT” signs and welded tightly shut.
Hold up. I just realized that my return trip to Fort Cronkhite was in … 1986.
I have no idea whether the tunnel, the fort, or the batteries and bunkers still exist. Nor if all the other fun places we visited that day—the Nike Missile Site and numerous other batteries—are still there, either. But, if you google them and find they are, make haste and go, go, go, visit them while you can! Remember, your adventure will only come once, as all do. And you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.