Discovering San Francisco Through its Outdoor Spaces

July 16, 2015
Outdoor Spaces.

Every time I visit a new city, I first look to outdoor recreation as my way to explore. My first day in Vienna was spent on a bike, Capetown on a long run, and most recently – San Francisco in hiking boots. It was my first night in the city and I was visiting one of my closest friends from college. When she left work at 6:00 PM we hopped onto an express bus heading to the western edge of San Francisco. Our destination was a seaside hike called “Lands End” because it is, literally, where the land ends and gives way to the ocean.

A Friday after work in downtown San Francisco (the Financial District) was all hustle and bustle as people hurried away from work and toward their weekends. Packs of people headed to the BART public transit system, buses swerved down every street and cars rhythmically moved through the traffic lights. We walked a few blocks from her office to a bus stop and waited for an express bus that would whisk us west.

For myself, an outdoor adventure junkie, and my friend, an urban planner, this was our sweet spot – a public transit accessible hike.

After boarding, the bus quickly escaped the Financial District and everything became quieter. Nearing our destination, the streets became nearly empty as we sped through a residential neighborhood, dotted with town houses and only a few key bus stops. The bus dropped us off at the very foot of the trail on a golf course steeped in the classic San Francisco summer fog.

After a few wrong turns that brought us back to the golf course parking lot we found the entrance to the trail and went from the scenery of wide green manicured grass to rocky narrow trail with brush closely hovering on each side. We had found nature. For myself, an outdoor adventure junkie, and my friend, an urban planner, this was our sweet spot – a public transit accessible hike.

Discovering San Francisco Through its Outdoor Spaces

We chatted as we hiked up and down the hilly terrain making our way out to the “edge” of the city where the trail opened up to the ocean. The scene was dramatic as the fog covered most of the long range views and close up the waves menacingly crashed against the rocks. We took a break to take in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and enjoy a bit of sea breeze, watching some teenagers build a fire on the beach below.

I had been in San Francisco for a few hours and because of the fog, I still hadn’t seen the famous Golden Gate Bridge. We were determined though so after we finished the official Lands End trail we kept walking through the residential streets to another beach where the fog cleared up enough for a touristy beach side selfie shot.

And yet the adventure did not end there. True to our mission, we walked a mile to a bus stop and took a series of busses back to the center of the city. Public transit, iconic landmarks, terrain, and outdoor recreation: a perfect introduction to a new city.

Discovering San Francisco Through its Outdoor Spaces photo credit by Sarah Knapp.

About Sarah Knapp

Sarah L. Knapp is Brooklyn-based adventurer who has traveled to the summit of Africa, the countryside of Belarus and the ski slopes of Patagonia. Her love for the outdoors and belief that adventure is just a mindset led her to create OutdoorFest, a ten day festival to spread the excitement of local adventure throughout her hometown.

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