Presidio Walk, Not so Flat

Last week we tried some other parts of the San Francisco Presidio that are not so flat. (Previous walk on the flat part of the Presidio.)

If we had stayed around Main Post, near the Visitor’s Center and the Officers’ Club, we might have managed. Down the parade grounds, in the picture below,  is San Francisco Bay in the distance. The Presidio covers over two square miles near the Golden Gate Bridge with a variety of history, trails, museums and restaurants to explore.Presidio lawn

The Presidio is over 200 years old and served Spain, Mexico and then the United States (1848). In 1994 it was transferred to the National Parks to manage. It’s always changing – the latest will be what is planned over the now submerged Doyle Drive. Tune in for more.

Friday, we started on Officers’ Row, housing built in 1862 for officers and their families. Constructed during the Civil War, this was a major expansion for the Presidio. Previously, officers lived in 6-room adobes. In 1878 the front porches were moved to face San Francisco, instead of the parade grounds.

Officers Homes

We took off to the east to find Lovers’ Lane. First we went by more lovely and larger officer homes.

Officers houses

We went down the hill into Tennessee Hollow. A major restoration project is underway. Three creeks meet in MacArthur Meadows and run under Lovers’ Lane Bridge. Tens of thousands of native plants representing 60 species will be planted in this area.

Tennessee Hollow l

Tennesee Hollow

A sign indicated regular coyote presence.

We crossed MacArthur and proceeded up Lovers’ Lane – well for a while. It gets a lot steeper. Only .6 mi, it has a maximum grade of 21%. About 20% over my ability. The sign describes that soldiers used this trail to visit their sweethearts in the nearby city. Not sure sweethearts is the right term, but it is definitely the fast way to get to her, if you’re in shape. Historically it was also used by Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries.

Lovers Lane l

We went as far as this kind of duplex housing on Liggett Ave and went back down the hill.

Liggett Ave housing

We were searching for the Tennessee Hollow trail, but I think the map was putting us on. Go by this field – and then what? Enter the brush with a machete? It did have a 3 hr free parking.

Morton Street Field

We managed to find the real trail back to MacArthur (it does not take off of Lovers’ Lane) but we couldn’t find more trail.

Tens Hollow trail l

Instead we found this climb back to the Main Post.

Stairs to Main Post

Our reward was  view of the beautiful Inn at the Presidio.

Inn at the Presidio

Behind it is the Ecology Trail that goes up to Inspiration Point Overlook. Another trail we’re not doing. But if you do, it’s 1.6 mi with 16% maximum grade. There is a grand view from the overlook.

After wandering around the post some more, we got in the car and drove uphill to reach the Golf Course for lunch. Lovers’ Lane, Ecology and Tennessee Hollow trails all meet up with Mountain Lake Trail. It’s a short walk from the Golf Course to that trail, which runs along West Pacific Ave.

Mountain Lake Trail

Of course, it soon takes a dive down to Presidio Blvd. Maybe when I have many body parts replaced.

Doesn’t mean the Presidio isn’t a grand place to explore. We just prefer the flat parts by San Francisco Bay.

See you on the trail!


Words by Lynn Millar, pictures by Mike Millar, available upon request.

Maps. Some of the trails are part of the Bay Ridge Trail.

Parking: We parked near the Main Post area, $1.50/hour. There are a few 2 or 3 hour free spots. Some by Morton Field and a couple of spots at the low end of Ecology behind the inn.

Bathrooms: Portapotties, at restaurants, museums and centers.

You can rent houses and apartments on the Presidio, but if you can afford them, you’re probably not wasting your time reading this.

This is the Arguello Gate, where Arguello Blvd. meets Presidion Blvd.

Arguello Gate


Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

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