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Mount Davidson, at 927 feet, is the highest point in San Francisco. Mount Davidson Park is often overlooked as a hiking (or really, walking) destination; most people know this parcel of land as the hill with the cross on top. Although the cross and the land immediately surrounding it no longer belong to the City of San Francisco, the whole mountain top is laced with trails and one wide fire road. Some paths lead down to the edges of the park, and if you really get the itch to explore Mount Davidson, you might want to drive on the streets that circumnavigate the mountain and look for steps leading uphill.

The 40 acre park has expansive views south to San Bruno and the main trail at Mount Davidson north to the city skyline, but I enjoyed visiting Mount Davidson on a foggy summer day. The sound of the wind blocked noise from the surrounding city, and all that I could hear was sporadic bird song. Soft pale billowing fog wrapped around the mountain, making me feel far from San Francisco.

Start at the park gate and head uphill on the main trail, a broad dirt fire road. A eucalyptus forest obstructs any views. Blackberry bushes are common, and there's a lot of red elderberry, ivy, and cotoneaster. Small paths depart from both sides of the trail; all are options if you'd like to explore Mount Davidson, but for the quickest trip to the top, stay on the gently graded main trail. At 0.24 mile, the trail ends at a broad bare spot. A break in the tree cover permits views of the downtown skyline to the north. A rough path continues downhill, but turn around and head toward the cross. Look for an unmarked small path to the left. After a few steps the trail splits; stay to the right. The narrow path squeezes through blackberry and cotoneaster. After descending on some stone steps, the path meets the main trail. Turn left and return to the trailhead. The address of the Cross site is 125 Dalewood Way, San Francisco, California 94127-1606.

For current weather at Mount Davidson, click here.

 

Historic Walking Tours by Jacquie Proctor
www.sfcityguides.org/desc.html?tour=87

 

Trail Map
www.mtdavidson.org/mount_davidson_trail_map

trail map

Site source of info on trail:
www.bahiker.com/sfhikes/davidson.html

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/386

Quick Facts

Address:
125 Dalewood Way, San Francisco, California 94127-1606

Total distance:
0.44 mile


In brief:
Easy 0.44 mile hike to the top of San Francisco's highest hill.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This less than 1/2 mile hike is easy. Trails are nicely graded, though they can be overgrown with vegetation.

Exposure:
More shade than sun.

Trail traffic:
Moderate.

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails and fire road.

Hiking time:
Less than 1 hour.

Season:
Nice any time.

Getting there:
From northbound CA 1 (19th Avenue) in San Francisco, bear right onto Junipero Serra. Drive to the (confusing) junction with Portola, and bear right onto Portola. Drive about 0.7 mile, then turn right onto Marine (same junction as Miraloma). Drive one block on Marine, and turn right onto Lansdale. Drive one block and turn left onto Dalewood. Drive one block uphill on steep Dalewood to the park entrance (a gated fire road) on the left side of the road. (Note: feel free to consult a map and create your own directions. There are many streets that reach the park, but you'll need a map unless you're familiar with the neighborhood.)

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 37°44'13.84"N
Longitude 122°27'17.20"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phone, stores, and restaurants back off of Portola, in the West Portal neighborhood, or on Portola near the insection with O'Shaughnessy Boulevard. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Abundant side of street parking in a residential neighborhood. The number 36 bus stops right in front of the park. No entrance or parking fees. No facilities. No designated handicapped parking, and trail access for wheelchairs is obstructed. Read about cautions for urban hikes here.

Rules:
Park is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dogs permitted.

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco and Vicinity map to get there.
• Stairway Walks in San Francisco, by Adah Bakalinsky (order this book from Amazon.com) has a uselfull map and suggested hike.
• Trails of the Coastside and Northern Peninsula (map) is a great guide (available from Pease Press).