Monday, February 20, 2017

2017 Goal: Climb Every Hill in San Francisco

In 2014, I made my it my new year's resolution to hike every trail in San Francisco. After exploring the city's trails and blogging about it, my experience turned into a book deal with Mountaineers Books for Urban Trails San Francisco. I spent most of 2015 and the first half of 2016 writing, editing, and finalizing my book, which finally came out on November 15, 2016. Since that time, I've been able to take some time off. After all that work, it's also been fun to do book some book talks and to see my book in stores.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Buena Vista Park
But now, a few months after publication, I feel myself itching for another goal or quest to keep me occupied for 2017. I wanted my goal to be a challenge, but also achievable. And I wanted it to be a way to learn more about San Francisco. Finally, after about a month and a half of 2017, going by I finally came up with an idea: this year, I will climb every hill in San Francisco.

Now climbing every hill in San Francisco may seem like a pretty concrete task, but isn't as easy as it seems because no one can seem to agree on how many hills there are! (This page from SFGazeteer explains the dilemma well.) 

My personal goal meant I'd need to create my personal list of hills, so I did this drawing from a few sources:
Using these sites and articles, I came up with my own list. At first, I had 53 hills, and then my boyfriend added a lot more using topographic maps to complement the sources listed above. While this feels exhaustive now, I realize this list may change, and I may add some new hills to/take out some others from this list.

As with my 2014 goal, my plan is to blog about this quest as I complete it. I post photos, history, and key stats about each hill.

While I'm a little behind in my quest—not starting this until late February—I luckily have a good head start—I've already climbed 36 hills. I'll write about the hills I've been to—and hopefully visit the remaining ones before January 1, 2018. Do you want to join me in my quest? If so, copy my list in Google Spreadsheets, empty my "Been There?" column, and start using this as a checklist to track your progress. All right, who else is in?

View from Bayview Hill

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Two Great Hiking Loops From the Presidio Main Post


When I first moved to San Francisco in 2007, I didn't really know what to do in the Presidio. Since that time, this neighborhood and former military fort has become a lot more interesting. A new visitor center opened recently, and it now houses four Andy Goldsworthy's artworks, fantastic restaurants like The Commissary, and other draws like Off the Grid and The Walt Disney Family Museum. 

And then there is hiking... 

With over 25 miles of trails, The Presidio is quantifiably the best neighborhood for hiking in San Francisco. For this reason in my book, Urban Trails San Francisco, there is an entire chapter on hiking in the Presidio—with seven routes in that neighborhood alone. And while following one of the Presidio's trails is great, sometimes it's nice to create loops that combine a number of different trails.

In the spirit of creating new hikes, here are two great loops that start and end right in the Presidio Main Post. For simplicity, I'll call the shorter one, Presidio Express and the longer one, Presidio Plus.

Presidio Express 
Distance: 4 miles
Park Trail - Presidio Express
 
Time: 1 hour 10 minutes 
Start Point: Presidio Main Post Lawn 
Route: Google My Map 
Description: From the Main Post, you’ll head to the San Francisco National Cemetery, which dates back to 1884 and serves as the final resting place for some 30,000 soldiers and their families. You then reach National Cemetery Overlook, one of the Presidio’s best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Next, you take a wooded trail through cypress groves and past the Presidio pet cemetery on your way to Crissy Field. You’ll make a final climb on the Battery East Trail before reaching the Golden Gate Bridge. Your return trip takes a different route back to the Main Post, passing the old cavalry stables and visiting an overlook with great views of Crissy Field and downtown San Francisco. 

Presidio Plus 
Distance: 5 miles
Bay Area Ridge Trail -  Presidio Plus

Time: 2 hours 20 minutes 
Start Point: Presidio Main Post Lawn 
Route: Google My Map 
Description: From the Main Post, you’ll hike the Ecology Trail to Inspiration Point and Andy Goldsworthy’s 100-foot-tall artwork, Spire. You’ll then hike through eucalyptus and cypress-lined trails that will make you forget that you’re in the middle of a city. You’ll pass the National Cemetery Overlook with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Rob Hill Campground, the only overnight campground in the city. As you reach the Pacific Coast, you’ll walk along former gun batteries until you reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Your return trip takes a different route back to the Main Post, passing the old cavalry stables and visiting an overlook with great views of Crissy Field and downtown San Francisco.


View of the National Cemetery - both routes
View of the Golden Gate Bridge -  both routes
View of the Crissy Field Overlook - both routes