Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hike all of SF Post 4: Take a Stroll with Sutro

I'm on a mission to #hikeallofsf. These are the stories of my hikes.

Interior Greenbelt and Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
Hike Name: Interior Greenbelt and Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
Location: Twin Peaks
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy - moderate

One of the best moments on our Urban Jungles tours is when our hikers enter a eucalyptus forest behind Sutro Tower. I love to see people's eyes widen when they discover a vast expanse of green space right in the center of the city. And this is just scratching the surface...

Between the northwest end of Twin Peaks and the southeast end of Golden Gate Park are two parks that combine to form 80 acres of eucalyptus forest, the Interior Greenbelt (19 acres) and Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve (61 acres).

About Adolph Sutro

Eucalyptus Trees on the Trail
These parks were once the private land of Adolph Sutro, the mayor of San Francisco from 1894 to 1896. Before he was mayor, Sutro was a German immigrant and an engineer who came to San Francisco in 1850 to make a fortune in gold. When Sutro's dreams of gold were crushed, he became a tobacconist, eventually owning three stores. Now with dreams of silver, he sold his stores took off for Nevada. His goal was to construct a tunnel that would help drain and mine the Comstock Lode.

More Eucalyptus Trees on the Trail
The tunnel was constructed between 1869-1878, but toward the end of that time, Sutro realized the silver deposits were wearing thin. He immediately sold his shares in the tunnel and made millions. He then returned back to San Francisco and bought up 1/12 of the city's land. One of Sutro’s many land holdings was Mount Parnassus (now Mount Sutro). While this land was once covered in native grasses and shrubs, Sutro began planting the hill with imported eucalyptus trees in 1886 in celebration of Arbor Day. The non-native and invasive eucalyptus thrived in its new location and became the main tree species on the hill.

The parks today
Today, Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve is owned by UCSF, and the Interior Greenbelt is owned by the city of San Francisco. They are both maintained by a volunteer group, the Sutro Stewards.

So I digress...back to the hike!

For a full map of this route, visit:
Route Details
A full map of this route is here:

I recommend starting this hike in the Interior Greenbelt at the stairway just south of 17th and Stanyan. At the top of the stairs, you will find yourself on the Historic Trail. Follow this trail until you reach a main road, Medical Center Way.

Cross the street *carefully* to continue on the Historic Trail. You will now be in Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. To explore Mount Sutro's summit (909 feet), continue on the Historic Trail until it intersects with the South Ridge Trail. Then take the South Ridge Trail, and make a left onto Nike Road to continue up to the summit. You will know you are there because you will see a clearing as well as informational signage about the park.

Mount Sutro Trail Markers
To get back to your start, take the East Ridge Trail (or the Mystery Trail to the East Ridge Trail) down to Johnstone Drive. Walk down the hill and pass Medical Center Way again. Then, on your left, you will see a UCSF sign for 66 Johnstone Drive. Just behind that sign you will see trail markers again. From here, you can get onto the Fairy Gates Trail, which will connect you back to the Historic Trail and finally to 17th and Stanyan. 

For a shorter variation (red shortcut above)
If you're up for a slightly shorter hike (1.75 miles) that still visits the summit, follow
Historic Trail --> Edgewood Trail --> North Ridge Trail. At the end of this trail, you will be at the Mount Sutro summit. From there follow the same directions to the hike's end.

We hope you'll enjoy exploring this eucalyptus forest in the center of the city. If you go on this hike, let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

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