San Francisco unveiled along the crosstown trail – Monterey Herald



I see the words “new” and “trail” in the same sentence and my pulse begins to race with impatience. An email recently appeared in our inbox inviting up to 30 walkers on a guided hike along San Francisco’s little-known Crosstown Trail to celebrate the second anniversary of this urban gem. The 17-mile excursion between Lands End and Candlestick Point presented a perfect excuse for a weekend of discovery.

As usual, nothing improves our city trips more than eating our way to Hwy 1. We passed Santa Cruz before the roadside fruit stalls lure us in with ripe strawberries and juicy apricots. Pie Ranch Nut Pie with Old Jammu Grain Crust called us near Pescadero. We reached Half Moon Bay in time for lunch at the San Benito Deli, currently sharing space with Pizza Pie while the historic San Benito Hotel recovers from fire damage. Coincidentally, the Deli is now next to Swiss 55, an artisanal Swiss chocolate and confectionery store.

All of these pleasures required an increase in physical activity. So we stopped in Pacifica for a hike in the eucalyptus covered hills on the east side of Hwy 1 before adding the 5 mile Merced Lake loop to our day count. The view of the lake and the historic landmark of the Broderick-Terry duel of 1859, known as the “Last Notable American Duel” was worth enduring the cacophony of traffic.

The dog-friendly Laurel Inn welcomed our Siberian husky, Gem, and my husband David and I at the end of the day. The Presidio Boulevard location proved to be a convenient base camp on the edge of Pacific Heights with access to the Presidio trail system.

  • Avid Crosstown Trail hikers prepare to begin the hike from the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Hiked from Lobos Valley in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Presidio de San Francisco. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Stop at John McLaren Park to breathe in the view of downtown San Francisco. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • One of the many cardio workouts along the Crosstown Trail. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • The man-made Lake Stowe in Golden Gate Park has been a popular recreation site since 1893. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Take the time to smell the roses of Golden Gate Park. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • An elevated pedestrian bridge ensures safe passage over Interstate 280. (David Mullally – Special to the Herald)

  • Street intersection points help connect the green belts and trails in Crosstown Trails Park. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • San Francisco’s Hidden Garden Mosaic Steps are a community public art project. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Candlestick Point State Recreation Area on the horizon as hikers make their way to the Visitacion Valley. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Exuberant hikers end their trek at Sunrise Point. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Cross paths with other hikers and pose with Bob Siegel, founder of the Crosstown Trail. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

  • Crosstown Trail route for hikers and cyclists. (David Mullally – Special for the Herald)

The next morning, as I filled my backpack with water, snacks, a first aid kit, and extra clothes, David reminded me that this was a walk around town and not of an expedition in the middle of nowhere. We arrived at the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center at 9am to meet our guide, Karen Rhodes and 25 other enthusiasts. Karen gave us a brief history and description of the Crosstown Trail which runs northwest to southeast of town. The hike over the hill and the ‘stick surfer’ stairs was designed to pass through upscale, working-class neighborhoods connected by green belts, community parks and nature reserves, many of which would have been absorbed in the concrete jungle. without the residents’ tenacity.

Bob Siegel, retired educator and avid hiker, is considered the founder of the Crosstown Trail. He apparently came across an old map marked with a line across the city indicating that a visionary city planner at one point had the idea of ​​connecting neighborhoods with a designated walking route. Bob’s mission was to recruit energetic outdoor San Franciscans and open space advocates to help design and test what became the Crosstown Trail walking and biking route in 2019. Karen’s Final Words as we made our way to the trailhead were: finally bumped into Bob. Now, I was really intrigued by this trail celebrity.

The Golden Gate Bridge dominated the view as we approached the north end of the Lands End Trail before entering the enclave of graceful Sea Cliff mansions above Baker Beach. I noticed a bench with a commemorative plaque in honor of the late Robin Williams as someone pointed to his old house across the street.

We continued along the Lobos Creek Valley Trail above Ansel Adam’s childhood neighborhood to the wooded Park Presidio Avenue trail and Golden Gate Park Rose Garden. The route bypassed the famous Lake Stowe to the Sunset District. We stopped for a refreshment lunch break in JP Murphy Park after over 300 appetite-fueling cardio walks in the amazing Hidden Garden and 16th Avenue mosaic stairs.

Forest Hill was another majestic architectural treat on the way to Laguna Honda past the oldest subway station (1916) west of Chicago across from a lush canyon. Formerly a dump under the Laguna Honda hospital, “the alley of the pools” has been restored as a green corridor thanks to the Urban Riders of San Francisco. We bumped into Bob Siegel with his group of Crosstowners headed in the opposite direction and I was delighted to meet the gracious strength of and for nature 80 year old San Francisco.

Further afield, Glen Canyon Greenway was another environmental victory for local activists. At McLaren Park, San Francisco’s second largest park, we followed stone markers along the Philosopher’s Way, where plaques are inscribed with thought-provoking quotes and nature boasts of dreamlike elements. We climbed to the grassy nob for a panoramic view of the bay before heading back down to the Visitacion valley. The winding greenway lined with six contiguous but distinctive gardens along a former water utility right-of-way was a magical interlude before Little Hollywood and the entrance to the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area.

I was unprepared for the sight of RVs, trailers, and makeshift facilities at the edge of the state park. Karen described the encampment as an unauthorized occupation of the area by the “homeless”. It might as well be called a living “reverie” station to make us think seriously about our responsibility to society’s growing underprivileged population.

Our troop has now reduced to the strongest dozen gems and continued to make their way from the shoreline to the end of the hike at Sunrise Point. We expressed our exuberance by posing for a party photo against the backdrop of blue water dotted with white veils. We thanked our outstanding hike leader and said goodbye to each other. David called Uber and we asked the driver to take the three of us with our ravenous appetites to the Boudin bakery on the platform. Sitting in the back of the car, I thought about the Crosstown Trail and how the contagious vision and enthusiasm of one individual had created a unique opportunity to appreciate the city through cultural diversity, history. and the scenic beauty of the bay.

Linda B. Mullally and her husband David share their passion for travel, outdoor recreation and dogs through articles, hiking books and photographs at, and Facebook.



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