Visitacion Knob P300
Bay View Hill
Stony Hill
Potrero Hill
Bernal Heights NN

Thu, Oct 16, 2014
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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.

Visitacion Knob

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 locked gate 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.

Stony Hill

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 properties.

Potrero Hill

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.

Bernal Heights

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.

Anonymous comments on 10/17/14:
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.
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