My Secret San Francisco: Glen Park Canyon

March 27, 2023

My Secret San Francisco: Glen Park Canyon

After spending decades in the city, it's hard to believe that the first time I explored Glen Park Canyon was during the summer of 2020. It was still a partial lockdown and it was difficult to leave the city. Campgrounds around the state were still mostly closed, so we were working our way through all of the urban green spaces in San Francisco that we'd somehow managed to overlook for all those long years. 

 

Of all of those spaces, Glen Park was the one that really took my breath away. It was like stepping through a magical portal and into a natural world that was so vast, forested, sheltered, and full of life that it was hard to believe it was hidden in plain sight, right in between Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and Glen Park Village. 

 

Of course, thanks to working in Glen Park for many years, I knew about all of the fun amenities on the park's southeastern tip. If you haven't been, there's a lot to see there - a great Recreation Center, sports fields, and a stylish little playground. But the park is almost 70 acres big, and it was the canyon and hiking trails that were full of surprises. From the trailhead behind the playground, you wind north up the canyon, along Islais Creek, a beautiful bubbling stream with a vibrant riparian ecosystem where we stopped to look under rocks and leaves, trying to spot a hidden frog or newt. Then we stumbled across the most charming nursery school in the middle of the trees - closed of course in 2020, but the type of place that makes you want to go back in time and do preschool all over again. Wildflowers were everywhere, and for much of the hike we were tucked under the canopy, seemingly far away from the bustle of the city. Then the hill crested and we could see the hillside homes of Diamond Heights from a completely new and fresh angle - the rows of long concrete piers stretching down to the slope below. 

 

By the time we reached the top of the hill and popped out on Portola, we felt like we'd gone on a day trip to Marin or Santa Cruz. If you need an outdoor escape but only have an hour or two to spare, Glen Park is the perfect spot to go exploring, right here in your own backyard. 




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