Not so much a hike, more a leisurely uphill stroll.
The view to the east from the deck of our apartment is dominated by Bernal Heights Hill, a rocky outcrop with stunning 360 degree views of the Bay and inland areas.
Staying in Noe Valley, this was one of our local “things to do”. We set out from the apartment, joined Cesar Chavez Street, crossing Mission and Folsom before turning right up Harrison into pretty Precita Park, the starting point for the walk. Inevitably, dogs outnumbered humans in this neat green space adjacent to the Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School.
The walk began from the southwestern corner of the park, the steepest part being up tree-lined Folsom Street with fine views of the City through the treetop leaves.
The top of Folsom merges left into Bernal Heightd Boulevard and the entrance to the park.
You are immediately aware that this is dog territory as the profusion of signs describe the best trails, advertise dog walking and grooming services and, less happily, contain heartfelt pleas for for the restoration of lost animals to their owners.
The route to the top takes a gentle, winding path, though the adventurous or merely mad might be tempted to clamber up the green-brown hill itself.
The dazzling vistas begin by the entrance and become increasingly spectacular as you ascend the path.
No tourists, and, by my understanding, few local residents, make this journey, but they are missing a treat. Step aside Twin Peaks, this is by far the best vantage point to enjoy the San Francisco panorama.
Downtown, the “bracelet of bridges”, Mount Davidson, Twin Peaks and Candlestick Park are all clearly visible from this spacious peak. The wide expanse stretches almost into the bay itself.
On the opposite side are Noe Valley, Diamond Heights and Glen Park, nestling under the benign family of Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower.
We can almost reach over and touch our apartment, two minutes walk from the stately St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where the movie Sister Act was filmed.
At the summit we felt even more like human intruders in doggie heaven, and the canine armies continued to assemble as we passed through the small car park beneath it.
We dipped down Anderson Street into Cortland Avenue, the main shopping and dining thoroughfare of the Bernal Heights neighbourhood, and after an excellent lunch at the Progressive Grounds coffee house, took the surprisingly short and relatively flat walk back into Noe Valley. This would – and may – warrant a separate article in itself, but suffice to say that we found it a delightful spot.
But the final word goes to the characters that dominate this wonderful open space.