A great urban hike in San Francisco to the Mt Sutro Open Space Reserve (owned by UCSF). Its a bit of an uphill hike on cement sidewalks to get there, but once you get to the Open Space area you may forget you are in the middle of a major city. Great hike and views along the way to enjoy on non-foggy days.
From the intersection of Market and Castro, head west on 17th Street uphill.
The 17th Street uphill is a bit steep, but its the quickest way up to the Twin Peaks area. (On the way back down, you will enjoy the views of the Bay). At the top of the hill, turn left on to Clayton (cross the street so you on the west side of Clayton). Bear right onto Twin Peaks continuing up the hill.
Follow the main road up the hill as the street becomes Clarendon. Follow Clarendon (with its multi-million dollar homes and awesome views) until you reach the UCSF Aldea Housing Complex. Turn Right into the complex on Johnstone street.
Look for Behr Street to the left - walk to the end of Behr Street - which becomes Nike Road.
Walk around the Nike Road gate (its just there to keep out Motor vehicles). Follow the paved road up to the "summit" area.
The Summit area is surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees blocking most of the surrounding views (dont worry - the views will be later on this hike). You can see the Sutro TV Towers in the distance (they are actually located on different hill top)
Soon you will reach the East Ridge Trail. This downhill trail has a number of mild switchbacks and is well shaded.
The East Ridge Trail basically becomes the Mystery trail as you wind west around Sutro Mt. The Mystery trail is a bit more narrow, but a very enjoyable trail - well maintained, fairly private.
The Mystery Trail intersects the North Ridge Trail - turn right on the North Ridge Trail. This is another private and enjoyable trail. The Trail does end abruptly at Medical Center Way, look for the Fairy Gates trail across the road (there is a new marker to help you find it). Stay to the right on the Fairy Gates trail as it wraps around the hillside - again another nice trail.
The Fairy Gates trail is probably the nicest on in the Mt Sutro Open Space Reserve. You may think you are in Portola Valley on Toyon Trail. Around this bend is a solid rock nice cut-out.
The trail ends near the Johnstone and Behr intersection in the housing area. Retrace your steps back down to the Castro.
Near the Twin Peaks/Clarendon intersection, look for these stairs on the west side of the street. Go up these stairs for a great view point of San Francisco, the Marin Headlands and even the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge.
A great urban hike in San Francisco if you can start in the Castro and dont mind an uphill on Sidewalks. Oddly the best views are on the way back down from Mt Sutro - but the Reserve area is a gem in the middle of a very urban city.
If you dont want the steep uphill sidewalk part - you can drive up to Clarendon and Johnstone and then walk to the Nike Road or Fairy Gates trailheads.
Mt Sutro Open Space at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in the Bay Area, California
Area - Mt Sutro Open Space (San Francisco)
Trails - Nike Road => East Ridge => Mystery Trail => North Ridge => Fairy Gates Trail (Map)
Length - 3.5 miles round-trip from Castro / Market Street - 1 Mile within the Reserve
Duration: 1 hour
Trail - City Sidewalks and Dirt trails
Bikes - Bikes are allowed on trails within the Reserve Area
View - Great Views on the way to the Mt Sutro Area
Getting There - You can walk from the Castro Station up 17th Street, turn Left on Clayton, Bear Right on Twin Peaks, stay on the west side and continue up Claredon, turn right on Johnstone (at the UCSF Housing Area), Turn left on Behr - Nike Road is at the end of Behr (walk around Gate).
Fee- None, free parking on street (do not park in the UCSF area)
Weather - Can be foggy, best on a Sunny Winter day or during a fogless Summer day.
Other Info - Drive to this hike and park on Claredon, but its not a bad hike up from the Castro. Bring water, no restrooms available on this hike. Hiking shoes not required - tennis shoes are almost better since its alot of sideways up to the area.