Golden Gate Park and Land’s End Urban Hike

Martin Luther King Jr. Drive – Music Concourse Drive – Japanese Tea Garden – Stow Lake Drive – Strawberry Hill – Transverse Drive – Speedway Meadow – Golden Gate Disc Golf Course – Chain of Lakes Drive – Queen Wilhelmina Windmill and Tulip Garden – Sutro Heights Park – Sutro Bath Ruins – Land’s End Trail.  (Phew!)

Distance: 7.4 Miles
Elevation Gained: 500 Feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 5:47
Critters: Squirrels, Turtles

Golden Gate Park

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Pros:

– A great hike through one of the best urban park landscapes in the country
– Plenty of stopping points, including the Japanese Tea Garden, Strawberry Hill, the windmill, Sutro Heights, Sutro Baths, and Land’s End
– I was with Kelly the whole time

Cons:

– Trails aren’t always well-marked here, and some seem to be unofficial. Decisions often led to adventures.
– Damaged Dog!!!!

Details:

This was my first vacation with Kelly. I also hadn’t been to San Francisco for a long time, and so I wanted to do something fun that would allow us to see familiar sights of the city from an unfamiliar angle. And, being that I am on a mission to walk ridiculous distances, I proposed that we turn our site-seeing into a hike. Kelly, bless not, not only agreed, but agreed with great enthusiasm. That’s just one of a thousand reasons why I love her. She doesn’t humor my whims; she jumps in and joins me with great enthusiasm – blisters and all.

Aside from my whims though, Golden Gate Park is a great way to sight-see in the city. On a 7.5 mile hike, Kelly and I saw most of the length of Golden Gate Park (the largest urban park in the country), the deYoung museum (the outside), the California Academy of the Arts (the outside), the music concourse, the Japanese Tea Garden, Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill, the windmill, Sutro Heights, Sutro Baths, Land’s End, and many fine views, including the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, and Sutro Tower. It’s not often that you can find hikes in nature that offer so many memorable landmarks, let alone in the city. 

The greatness of San Francisco is in how chock-full the city is with landmarks and beautiful spots. It’s a dense, crowded, noisy place, and yet Kelly and I walked through quiet eucalyptus and cypress woodland, viewed long stretches of rugged coast line, and enjoyed a little solitude on a hilltop overlooking a lake. We were a bus ride away from Market, and yet there were moments on this hike that were just as beautiful as moments to be had in a state park.

As rich as this hike was, though, the best part about it was being with Kelly. We don’t often have a lot of hikes together since I typically go when she has to work or because we rarely have an entire day off together. Hiking with Kelly slows me down and helps to take in every moment more fully. This isn’t because Kelly moves slow; on the contrary, I never feel like we’re putzing around. Rather, every moment with Kelly is so much fun that there is no need to hustle through a bland stretch of trail or tune out and haul ass to get to twenty miles. There’s no rush to be anywhere or do anything but stroll through the park with her.

Which is all for the best because of the ominous appearance of the damaged dog. Suffice it to say, I really hope she can get some new hiking shoes for our next trip. I know this means nothing to anybody except for Kelly and me, to which I say tough teepees. The dog was damaged, and I am verbally pouring one out for my homie.

Lest this turn into a love letter to Kelly, I’ll leave this blog here and say that, although I typically prefer the quiet solitude of a good hike through lonesome and beautiful country, I would do the Golden Gate hike again and again. It’s a stretch of beauty in an already beautiful city that covers so much ground and so many great hikes.

Finally, this hike was over a week ago. I’m going to keep the prose short and just indulge in some pics for the remainder of the blog.

April: 74.3 Miles
Year-to-Date: 430.6 Miles

One Reply to “Golden Gate Park and Land’s End Urban Hike”

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