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New at Alcatraz: self-guided trail, ranger programs, slide show.

New at Alcatraz: self-guided trail, ranger programs, slide show

Until recently, visitors to "The Rock' were confined to ranger-led tours. Now you can explore this San Francisco Bay island at your own pace, following a new 10-stop, self-guided trail through the cell-house and prison grounds. Along the route, rangers present ongoing programs. Picnicking is allowed in the dock area on the lee side of the 12-acre island.

After docking, head to the museum to watch the new 10-minute slide show covering the island's history. Afterward, you can pick up a brochure (25 cents) for the mile-long self-guided trail. Nearly the whole island is wheelchair accessible.

From the museum, as you walk up a winding path past prison walls, you'll see plants left from gardens planted in the 1930s by prison guards' families. Plants survive on winter rains and moisture from summer fog: blackberries, calla lilies, century plants (agave), ice plant, New Zealand flax, pelargoniums, roses.

It's sobering to pass from terraces with sweeping Bay views into the grim, musty prison to visit the armory, cell-blocks, library, hospital, and dining hall. The trail brochure provides a map and details. Ranger talks include anecdotes about famous inmates and escape attempts.

On the Bay, midsummer fog and winds often mean cold, damp weather. Be sure to wear warm clothing and sturdy shoes; you'll climb several steep roadways.

Now through September, Red & White Fleet ferries leave hourly for Alcatraz from Pier 41 beginning at 8:15. The last boat to the island departs at 5:15; last return to Pier 41 is at 7:15. Buy tickets as far in advance as possible--at least two weeks (daily, 200 tickets for the last boat to the island are sold on a first-come basis). Buy tickets at Pier 41 (office opens at 8) or at Ticketron outlets (service charge $1 per ticket). Fares are $4 adults, $3.50 seniors, $2.50 ages 5 to 11.

Photo: Prison island visitors on self-guided trail take in Bay views. On hill behind them, greenhouse sits in garden planted by former guard's families
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Alcatraz Island, California
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jul 1, 1986
Words:343
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