My son was running in a cross-country meet in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
which gave me an excuse to drive up early and tag a few of the city summits I
had left out of my previous visits. These summits are in the southeast corner
of the city with most of the 14mi I traveled covered on bike. None of them
required trespassing. The weather today was quite fine for riding, hiking or
walking, some overcast but neither hot nor cold. Views were muted, but much
better than the fog that often engulfs the city landscape.
John McLaren Park
covers Visitacion Knob and much of the surrounding hillside.
It is home to the city's Philosopher's Walk, a pleasantly paved walk/bike route
circling around the park for almost 3mi. It goes right past the top of
Visitacion Knob. The summit
itself is lost in a small forest of cypress trees
with no views, but a quarter mile to the northwest is a tall
blue water tower
on a subsidiary hill only 15ft lower that has some really nice views.
Bay View Hill
About a mile east of McLaren Park is the smaller and less developed Bayview
Park. Access is from the north via the end of Key Ave, where a
provides access for pedestrians and cyclists. Bay View Hill is mostly forested
which blocks views from many points. But there are some good overlooks for
most directions, with the exception of the southeast which is too bad, since
Candlestick Park is located immediately adjacent to the park in that direction.
Tall eucalyptus trees block views that might have allowed folks to watch a
baseball or football game from a distance. But both the SF Giants and SF 49ers
have moved to new ballparks so Candlestick is now idle, sadly.
The summit of Bay View Hill is located off the paved path that encircles it.
An old stone stairway
leads partway up, overgrown dirt paths reaching the
remaining way. The easiest access is from the drier northwest side, the
brushier paths lead up from the southeast. The summit features an old
iron water tank full of graffiti, but no longer used. Views are
limited to the south by trees in other directions.
Another mile to the northeast is Stony Hill, the highpoint of Hunters Point.
The summit is found just off Whitney Young Cir at the top of
a grassy knoll in
what looks like a neighborhood park but has No Trespassing signs posted around
its unfenced perimeter. There is a park bench along a concrete walkway going
through the park grounds. A middle-aged black man was smoking marijuana on the
back porch of his condo while I sat on the park bench. There was a lot of
that familiar smell during my ride this afternoon. Apparently there are a
great many ill and suffering residents in great need of the herb's medicinal
About a mile and half NNW of Stony Hill is the highpoint of Potero Hill, one
of SF's many neighborhoods.
The highpoint is found at the intersection of Wisconson St
and Madera St, making for the least interesting summit of the day. Just east
of this intersection is a hilltop neighborhood ballpark with some of the best
views one can get while playing baseball.
A little more than a mile to the southwest is the Bernal Heights neighborhood
whose centerpiece is the mostly undeveloped Bernal Heights Park. It appears to
be very popular with dog owners who collect at the
southwest side of the park
as well as with folks just out for a short walk on the many informal trails
that crisscross this grassy hill. A communications tower
enclosed by a
formidable fence crowns the top. Graffiti covers most of the building inside
which suggests the fence was no match for the determined. A use trail runs
around to the north side of the enclosure where one can both reach the highest
point on the hill and have a sweeping view
for 180 degrees looking north over
much of the city. Of the five I visited, this had by far the best views.
Bob, what was it like travelling 14 miles by bike on the crowded city streets? Bob replies:Not bad, actually. Only a few streets were busy and that part of SF is not one of the busier/tourist areas.