SF Urban Hikes: Glen Canyon

Thanks to El Niño taking a brief rest from tormenting the city with grey skies and precipitation (okay, okay, yes there is a drought and we desperately need it), we were able to do some investigative urban hiking this weekend. The results of the hike? Green, serene, and surprisingly vast, Glen Canyon is an awe inspiring place to visit within the city limits of San Francisco. Make sure to read this chapter from Gary Kamiya’s book, Cool Gray City of Love for the full effect (and for more information on how the Canyon was formed).

Begin your urban hike in the Mission District. Pick up some burritos to eat in the Canyon if you so desire- but hold off on eating until you get there. Don’t forget water! We started at 16th and Valencia in order to get the full effect of window shopping on our way out of civilization. Take a right on 26th Street, and head up into Noe Valley. Along the way you will pass this beautiful Painted Lady, a Polly Pocket inspired home:


As you continue up 26th things will get steep- but don’t give up. Let this view from Duncan St and Douglass St motivate you to get there! (Also note: this route has far fewer hills than if you choose to walk via Douglass St from the Castro).


Once you arrive at Duncan St and Diamond Heights Boulevard, take a left, then a right into the park. If you are suddenly struck with the urge to have a picnic- you are in luck. You will pass a Nursery school with public restrooms, a playground, and a shopping center with a Safeway. Bear to the right of the tennis courts and follow the trail to the right for some off roading, or the left for stairs. We went off-roading, and made it down the hill to here:


Posted trail signs show you this map. Not the best navigators, we picked the direction that everyone else appeared to be walking. We weren’t disappointed by the view:


We came across a group of perplexed Glen Canyon neighbors questioning why this coyote was out and about. (But mostly we just got excited about seeing wildlife in the 7×7).


We continued onwards and made our way down towards Islais Creek, which had more water than in recent years thanks to ‘ole El Niño. Things continued to be very green, and very beautiful. (Also somewhat muddy).


The creek ran just to the right of this paved walkway.


And these geological formations totally rocked.


The full hike from the Mission to Glen Canyon and back was 5.4m round trip (8.6km). If you’re not convinced that this is worth the ~3-4 hour time investment, check out this panoramic view.

Did you love this urban hike? Have other favorite urban hikes in SF? Let us know in the comments!

All photos and video were produced by the author.


About the Author // Eliza Dropkin is the newest member of Vantigo. She enjoys live music, good food, and cruising around town in Jerry (the other newest member of Vantigo).


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