I “prepared” for this hike by attending an annual orchid show at Fort Mason; walking to and from the exhibit hall provided wonderful views across the Golden Gate, a kind of preview of what I would see later. I then drove to the south side of the Presidio in order to begin this hike (really a city walk) at its north end, at the Presidio’s Arguello Gate. Because parking is very limited right at the gate, I drove a short ¼ mile into the Presidio to park at Inspiration Point. Though not officially part of this Bay Area Ridge Trail segment, the views from Inspiration Point were truly inspirational. Here the Palace of Fine Arts overlooks Alcatraz and the northern East Bay shoreline.
On my way from the Inspiration Point parking area to Arguello Gate, the official trailhead, I took a brief detour within the Presidio at the edge of the Golf Course. I’ll revisit this area again when I return to hike the Presidio segment of the Ridge Trail. After my detour, I left the Presidio and headed south on Arguello Blvd.
In typical San Francisco fashion, the route is rarely flat, but on the other hand doesn’t climb very high, either.
Just a couple of blocks down Arguello is the beautiful and historic Temple Emanu-El. A cornerstone notes that the current temple building was built in 1925, which translates to the year 5685 in the Jewish calendar.
As the route passes through the local neighborhood, there are colorful and typically eclectic buildings along the way. This pet hospital caught my attention.
Just before the edge of Golden Gate Park, the route turns left on McAllister and skirts the edge of the main campus of the University of San Francisco, USF. At the edge of the campus, and at the top of a hill, is beautiful St Ignatius Church. Because the church is large to begin with and located on a hilltop, it can be seen from many vantage points in this part of the city.
The route then jogs over to the Panhandle, where it continues along Fell St. These colorful houses overlook the Panhandle.
At the eastern end of the Panhandle the route turns south on Baker St and begins to climb up the hill toward Buena Vista Park, San Francisco’s oldest park. The official Ridge Trail route climbs to about 350 feet elevation. A side trip into the park to climb to the top of the hill is highly recommended, as the views wonderfully express the park’s name. Although I visited in February, I found some trees showing early signs of spring.
Other park visitors were enjoying the great weather and the cityscape from a hammock.
To the northwest there was a beautiful, fog-free view of the Golden Gate Bridge with Mt Tamalpais behind.
Because of the fog-free conditions, I could enjoy a view of the Marin coast, with Pt Bonita behind the city.
After beginning my descent back to the Ridge Trail I had a clear view of Mt Diablo across San Francisco Bay and behind the East Bay Hills and Oakland.
I then returned to the trailhead, once again enjoying the neighborhoods and sights along the way. I’m looking forward to explore more hills south of Buena Vista Park, as well as the Presidio, on future hikes.