Mary West: Urban hiking in San Francisco – The Union

Urban Hiking is great when the weather is unstable as you can duck into a coffee shop if the rain picks up. Our historic foothill towns are a great place to get your steps in. Sacramento has a rich history that a tour on foot will teach you. San Francisco is an urban hiking paradise, if you enjoy the city like my friend Jane does. Jane has lived and worked in San Francisco for over 30 years. She walks most everywhere she goes or rides her bike. On weekends she is a walking tour guide. I joined Jane for a walking tour recently that was three hikes in one. We covered a lot of ground.

The first of our hike was Portsmouth Square or the heart of Chinatown and the history lessons began immediately. From ships abandoned in the Yerba Buena Harbor by those seeking their fortune in gold, to the history of the Pony Express to the Redwood Forest in the middle of the city, I was overwhelmed by the intensity of activity that took place here in 1850 and the pace has only increased since.

Jane took me through the posh residences as well as the Barbary Coast. The red-light district in its day but the birthplace of Jazz and dance halls too.

Jane and I made our way to the largest Chinatown outside of China and shared the stories of miners, but also the slave trade. Stories of the railroad builders and the rock stars who frequented Chinatown were enchanting. We ate fortune cookies and sipped green tea while we took in the sites.

A trip to Fisherman’s Wharf is a must. Jane met me after I did the traditional tourist attractions. We set out to hike from Pier 39 to Coit Tower. The views of the city as the sun began to set were stunning. The view of Yerba Buena Island and its role in our state history is awe inspiring.

An urban hike in San Francisco is a big undertaking. I would suggest several outings over several days and eating in North Beach is another must. Urban …….


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