I’m almost near my last San Francisco days. I’ve completed all auditions, all assignments, and almost all freelance work contracts. I only need now to pack up my important things, my cat, and throw it all into a waiting U-Haul truck… and drive down into the arms of some crazy guy in LA who says he loves me. I got three weeks to do it.
But because of this, I just want to share what make the SF Bay Area so freakin’ fantastic.. despite the huge panhandling population and the urine soaked streets. Because truthfully, this is my Valhalla, where city and nature collide and actually work in harmony.
1. The SCA Trail: The one sport I love and want to do til my dying days is trail running. I LOVE TRAILS! I love running on trails! And when the trails are injuring me for months and years at a time, it’s pretty fantastic. This particular trail is connected to a series of other trails in the Marin Headlands (which we’ll talk about later) but when I came across it with a friend, I was dumbfounded. It’s one thing to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge via car/foot/bike; it’s another thing to see the Golden Gate Bridge loom above you as you run in complete and utter isolation on the hills overlooking it. There are easier access points to it, but find the SCA Trail and bring a snack or a picnic or run it but seriously just enjoy the view. Most SF people don’t even know about it.
2. Marin Headlands: This place is SICK!!!! First of all, if you’re driving into the Marin Headlands from San Francisco, you HAVE to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. And let’s face it, that’s just iconic. It’s fun to watch all the tourists bundled up and trying to take pictures on that incredibly invariably foggy/windy/cold bridge while looking happy about it. And it’s still a beautiful bridge in all it’s orangy-ness. But once you’re over the bridge, there’s all sorts of points into the Headlands but my favorite is going straight to Rodeo Beach. To get there, you have to exit Alexander Ave and make a right towards Sausalito and then an immediate left to the famous “5 minute” tunnel. (It is a one way tunnel which means you have to wait 5 minutes at a time for your direction to be signaled to come thru.) First off, it’s an awesome long dark tunnel built by the military in the early 20th century so it has absolutely no character which actually gives it character. It’s amazing it survives so many earthquakes.
Then take that road all the way following the signs to Rodeo Beach. (This is a surfer’s dream, tucked away from the masses at Ocean beach.) This whole place used to be a military installation as early as the 1880′s so there are buildings there that are used for retreats and artist studios. And when it’s foggy, you can hear the fog horns moaning. But take any trail (Coastal Trail, Lagoon Loop, etc) and once you rise above the fog, and sunshine is splattered across your face, you’ll still have the remnants of fog still sticking in your wet hair.
3. Summit Loop, San Bruno Mountains State Park: Yeah, this isn’t in the city either… but for a good run in the city that’s comparable to this is running around Bernal Hill. But this is longer and HARDER! (More elevation please!) And there are more trails connecting to it so you can run to South San Francisco if you want. (Pretty rocky, but eh, why not?) I love this hill. Views of the Farollan Islands and the Golden Gate Park and downtown SF. Stupid awesome. And still feels very isolated.
4. And on a last note: the Seward Street Slides. Everyone knows about them, but they really still are a freakin’ thrill. Concrete slides that’ll make a grown man weep with fear. Bring your own cardboard. (Cuz the ones at the bottom are filthy.) And get out before 5pm because the residents hate listening to you scream like a baby.