Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Getting out of the City by Staying in the City

If you live in or near San Francisco, you are within a reasonably short drive of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world - Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Napa and Sonoma Counties, and more. People travel from all over the world to visit these spots that are seemingly right in our backyard.

But sometimes you might not feel like going away for the weekend to visit somewhere beautiful, and the reasons for sticking close to home are numerous: you may not want to deal with logistics, pay for a hotel, deal with traffic, etc. Or, like me, you might not even have a car with which to escape the city!

Luckily for those of us who live in the Bay Area, we have many great options for getting out of the city by staying in the city. One of these such options is Glen Canyon Park. Glen Canyon Park is located within a 10 minute walk of Glen Park BART, and contains 70 acres of parkland.

The terrain of the park is varied, but it's hard not to notice the myriad rock outcroppings throughout the park. Some folks think there's not a lot to see here, but I disagree - you just need to get off the main trails. 

If you enter from the southern end of the park either from Bosworth or Elk Street, you'll pass the visitor center as you head North. The trail splits into a "V" in front of you, and you should take the path to the right. It's paved with asphalt for a little bit, and then you'll see some wooden stairs to your right.

When you take the stairs, you're transported off the paved trail and onto some narrow dirt trails where you can climb upward to get an interesting perspective on the park below.

You can visit the park yourself or take my Walk on the Wild Side hike to see more. I've added some photos below, and here's a more extensive photo gallery of what you can expect to see there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goldsworthy 'Gallery' Tour - See Two Great Works Without Stepping Inside a Museum

Recently, I decided to explore a new hiking route in the Presidio. Enchanted by the name Lover's Lane, I started my walk there with the goal in mind to reach Andy Goldsworthy's 'Spire'. If you haven't already visited this work, you can find it here.

Andy Goldsworthy's Spire

I kept to the Lover's Lane path and in doing so, I almost missed the scene below - a snaking line of logs parallel to where I was walking. When I see nature expressed in an unnatural way, I tend to think Goldsworthy, but was this another one of his works? A quick Internet search revealed that this was indeed a Goldsworthy, and it was called "Wood Line".
Andy Goldsworthy's Wood Line
According to's website, both "Spire and Wood Line are inspired by the park’s historic forest, planted by the Army beginning in the 1880s and being rejuvenated today. The cypress, pine, and eucalyptus groves have become part of the park’s natural mosaic, where hawks perch and humans find shade. Spire and Wood Line help visitors see the trees with fresh eyes." 

Here's a quick Google Map link on how you can visit the two works yourself. What's great is that you can visit both works while walking mainly on trails.

Can anyone out there name another Goldsworthy work in the city for bonus points? Yes, that's right, it's "Drawn Stone" found at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Like many of his works, if you don't look closely, you'll be sure to miss it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Urban Hiker on the Road: Portland

Urban hiking is about finding opportunity anywhere. Even if I don't know a place well, I try to get the lay of the land on foot. It's often much more interesting and rewarding than exploring by car.

An example of this was that I was recently in Portland for Chris Guillebeau's World Domination Summit. The night before the conference, my cousin, a Portland native, invited me over for dinner. I hadn't rented a car, so I started thinking of ways I could get to his place. I turned to Google Maps and realized his house was located fewer than 5 miles away from my hotel downtown.

When I looked at potential hiking routes to my cousin's home, I saw there were 3 parks on the way. My decision was made - I was going to urban hike to dinner!

This ended up being a great experience. I hiked through Duniway Park, Marquam Nature Park, and Council Crest Park, which I learned is one of the highest points in the entire city. Council Crest was definitely the highlight of the hike as it had views of three mountains from its summit overlook! Here is the route I took.

Wherever you find yourself, it's easy to plan an urban hike. All you need to get started is Google Maps - and if you get lost, just use your cell phone to get back on track.

At the Council Crest Park Summit
Mount Hood as seen from Council Crest Park
Sun starting to set in Marquam Nature Park

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Welcome to the Urban Hiker SF blog! 

The goal of this blog is to discuss urban hiking (I go with definition 2) as a general concept and to help people discover the hidden hiking gems in San Francisco and beyond. I created the company Urban Hiker SF and spend a lot of my time hiking around the city. By writing about San Francisco's hidden stairways, parks, and hiking trails, I want to awaken your sense of adventure, so you can explore these sights with me - or on your own!

Mosaic Steps at 16th and Moraga