Battery Rathbone-McIndoe in the GGNRA (Clyde’s Ridge)
Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands, Sausalito CA 94966
Small areas for parking. No rest room, phone or other facilities. This is an historic military site — see warnings below. Sometimes referred to incorrectly as Clyde’s Ridge Battery.
ALERT: CLIFF-TOP LOCATION, ABANDONED OLD CONCRETE FORT. THIS FACILITY HAS BEEN STRIPPED OF ALL SAFETY RAILINGS AND HAS NOT BEEN PREPARED FOR VISITORS. USE CARE IF YOU VISIT THIS LOCATION.
Why are we leading off this page with warnings like this? Because every year people who think they’re just exploring a clifftop or an old fort in the GGNRA end up falling off the escarpments of the Marin Headlands, with serious injuries and deaths. This old fort has beautiful views, but before we get to them you need to be aware of dangers in the area, some obvious and some deceptive.
- There are NO railings on what amounts to a two-story concrete structure. You can turn to go back down the stairs and fall eight feet to a concrete floor because you weren’t quite at the top of the stairway when you stepped off the edge.
- Battery Rathbone-McIndoe is located on top of steep cliffs that are almost 400 feet tall. If you stand on the top level it looks like some interesting trails go off along the cliff edge, but they are game trails that peter out quickly and lead to cliffs where it’s easy to fall.
- This is not a safe place to visit at night, for the reasons described above.
For people who are looking where they walk before stepping anywhere and who treat the cliffs with respect this is a gorgeous place to stop and see the views.
The Facility, History and Views
Battery Rathbone-McIndoe was one of a series of forts built in 1904-05 to provide artillery protection for the entrance to the Golden Gate, 32 years before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. During World War I the German navy was not a threat in the Pacific and its guns were taken away so they could be mounted on gun carriages and sent to the front lines in France. The war ended before they made it there, and they were retutrned and re-installed after the war ended in 1918.
During World War II the guns provided protection for the network of mines that protected the entrance to the Golden Gate from Japanese submarines, preventing enemy vessels from removing or deactivating them. The guns could fire high explosive or armor-piercing shells a distance of almost ten miles out to sea. The fort was decommissioned in 1948, three years after the end of World War II, and its guns and ammunition were removed.
Like Battery Spencer, the buildings remain locked up today. Unlike Battery Spencer, which is fun to walk around and explore, all the metal fixtures were removed, which included some stairways and all of the railings. As long as you look down before you step anywhere you can explore here, but beware of the sharp drop-offs at the edges of the platforms.
The photograph above shows the view from one of the gun emplacements, looking back towards the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. The shot below shows Battery Rathbone-McIndoe as seen from Conzelman Road, which is a one-way street in this area.
Battery Rathbone-McIndoe is located on the southern side of the one-way portion of Conzelman Road not far from where you reach the Lower Fisherman’s Parking and View Area and the SF-88 Nike Missile Base and Museum.
It sits on top of cliffs along the top of Clyde’s Ridge, the face of which represents the western portion of the Marin Headlands facing San Francisco across the Golden Gate strait. The southern side of Clyde’s Ridge faces the Pacific Ocean, and the northern side drops down into Gerbode Valley and Rodeo Lagoon.
Note: The map below makes it look like Clyde’s Ridge is a single spot, but it is really a ridge that extends to the east and west of the map label.