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Field Trips
During the school year, elementary, middle, and high school groups from throughout the Bay Area participate in field trip programs. The park provides an active and authentic learning environment where students are challenged to investigate the past and give voice to untold stories.
Excavate History (Grade 4)
Excavate History focuses on the Spanish colonial era and teaches students how archaeology can help us discover more about the people who once lived at El Presidio de San Francisco. Through a series of four hands-on activities, students investigate how the arrival of the Spanish colonists changed both the natural and cultural landscape of San Francisco. In small groups, students rotate through four activities:
Mapping El Presidio - Students navigate through a life-sized map of El Presidio, locate three archaeological sites, and analyze an assemblage of replica artifacts.
Cataloging an Artifact - Students analyze a real ceramic artifact from the Lab’s collections and interpret its past function.
Hiking the Ecology Trail - Students uncover what the landscape of the Presidio once looked like and imagine living here at the time of colonization.
Making Adobe Bricks - Students learn how to make adobe bricks and compare them to the adobe wall in the Mesa Room.
Grades: 4
Cost: Free
Time: 4 hours
  • Common Core State Standards English Language Arts: SL 1 & 5; L6
  • History Social Science State Standards: 4.1.5; 4.2.3 & 5
  • Physical Education Model Content Standards: 3.7
Garbology 101 (Grades 4-6)
Garbology is being redesigned for the Officers’ Club! If you would be interested in piloting our new program, please email

KIDS on Trails (Grades K-3)

A photo of a boy wearing a cap holding the Kids on Trails Guide.KIDS on Trails explores the park’s heritage, focusing on its natural and cultural resources. The program encourages site-based learning, investigation and outdoor recreation through guided walks. Students use their senses and observation skills to see, hear, and feel and then record their learning and experiences.
The Ecology Trail guide offers kid-friendly activities that explore concepts such as ecology, habitat, species survival, relationship to place, diversity, patterns and cycles in nature, and adaptation. The program culminates at Inspiration Point, a scenic overlook along the Ecology Trail, with stunning views of the bay and surrounding Presidio.
The Anza Trail guide takes kids back in time and focuses on the natural and cultural history of Mountain Lake.  Booklets are available in English, Spanish, and Chinese and include Tips for adults and a trail map. We recommend an adult/child ratio of 1 to 5 and a teacher site visit PRIOR to your field trip. Trails can be temporarily closed or impacted so please inquire about current trail conditions.  Presidio staff is available on a limited basis to provide a brief welcome and orientation for your group.
Grades: K-3
Cost: Free
Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours (one way)
  • Common Core State Standards English Language Arts: SL: K – 3; RI: K – 3; RF: K – 3 & W: K - 1
  • History Social Science State Standards: K.4; K.6; 1.2; 1.4; 3.1; 3.2; 3.3
  • Next Generation Science Standards: K-LS1-1; KESS2-1 – 2; K-ESS3-1; 1-LS1-1-2; 2-LS4-1; -LS4-3 & 3-LS4-4
  • Physical Education Model Content Standards: Standard 1, 3, 4 & 5: K - 3
Kids on Trails - Ecology Trail
Kids on Trails - Mountain Lake / Anza Trail

Register for the 2014-2015 school year >>

Learn more about self-guided adventures >>



Living Poetry (Grades 8-12)
Living Poetry focuses on the young soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for their country through the poem “The Young Dead Soldiers” by Archibald MacLeish. This moving and heart-felt program gives students the opportunity to better understand the outcomes of war, experience the poem first hand and connect personally with soldiers who have been laid to rest. This program includes a small hike and site visit to the historic San Francisco National Cemetery, located in the Presidio. Students work collaboratively while making connections and comparisons to the soldiers’ and their own lives.
Grades: 8 - 12
Cost: Free
Time: Approximately 2.5 hours
  • Common Core State Standards English Language Arts
    • 8.RL.1, 2, 4 & 5; 8; 8.W. 3, 4, 5, 6; 8 & 9; 8.SL.1, 2, 4 & 5; 8.RH.6 & 7; 8.WHST.1, 2, 4, & 7
    • 9 – 10.RL.1,2 , 4 & 5; 9 – 10; 9 – 10.W.3, 4, 5 & 6; 9 – 10. SL. 1,2,4,5 & 6; 9 – 10.RH.3, 4, 5 & 7; 9 – 10.WHST.1, 2, 4, 7 & 9
    • 11 – 12.RL.1, 2, 4, 5 & 7; 11 – 12.W.3, 4, 5 & 6; 11 – 12.SL.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6; 11 – 12.WHST. 1, 4, 7 & 9
  • History Social Science State Standards:
    • 8.10.7; 10.8.6
Register for the 2014-2015 school year >>



Mountain Lake Explorers (Grades 4 - 8)

Place-based learning in the field enlivens and enhances classroom learning. The Presidio’s natural areas are an extraordinary educational resource for lessons on plants, wildlife, geology and ecology.
Mountain Lake, one of San Francisco’s few natural lakes, is the largest body of fresh water in the Presidio. It is now undergoing an ecological renaissance with plans for the reintroduction of lost wildlife species like western pond turtles and chorus frogs. This site is adjacent to Lobos Creek Valley. 
Field trips at Mountain Lake will include the following experiences:
  • A sense of place habitat hike that invites students to become more familiar with the ecology and cultural heritage of this site
  • A hands-on environmental service learning project that allows students to help care for a variety of habitats and landscapes
  • A citizen science activity that engages students directly in collecting valuable data that aids scientists in the management of the natural resources of the Presidio, and beyond
  • Additional fun educational activities such as field sketching, creative writing, or interactive games that deepen student understanding of urban ecology and help them grow a personal relationship to their local National Park
Grades: 4 - 8
Cost: Free
Time: 2-3 hours (pre-site classroom visit may be scheduled based on staff availability; multiple field trips encouraged)
Location: Mountain Lake (South Beach)
  • Common Core State Standards English Language Arts: RI K-5; RI 6-8; SL K-5; SL 6-8
  • Next Generation Science Standards: 4-LS1-1; 5-PS3-1; 5-PS3-1; 5-LS1.C; ESS3C
  • Physical Education Model Content Standards: 1.6, 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 5.5, 5.7


Register Now >>


Quest Adventures (Grades 3-6)

Presidio Quest Adventures are educational treasure hunts that teach eco-literacy with a fun, place-based team approach to exploring special natural areas in the park. Staff greet and orient your class before sending you off on a self-guided learning adventure. There are currently three different quests to choose from: 
1) Lobos Creek Valley Quest (Grades 3-6) - Explore historic forest, dune boardwalk and creek-side trails to Baker Beach. Themes: water cycle, watershed, hydrology, wildlife, cultural history.
2) Presidio Habitats Quest (Grades 3-6) - Exploring a variety of native and cultural habitats near Rob Hill Campground. Themes: wildlife, habitats, human impacts, cultural history.
3) Presidio Nursery Quest (Grades 3-5) - Explore the nooks and crannies of the Presidio Nursery and demonstration habitat gardens. Themes: botany, plant life cycle, pollinators, human impacts.
Grades: 3 - 6
Cost: Free
Time: 1 - 2 hours
Location: Varies depending on program selected
To participate, email for more information.



Tennessee Hollow Watershed Trekkers (Grades 3-5)
Place-based learning in the field enlivens and enhances classroom learning. The Presidio’s natural areas are an extraordinary educational resource for lessons on plants, wildlife, geology and ecology.
The Tennessee Hollow Watershed is a wonderfully varied landscape, whose heart lies at El Polín Spring. Newly restored to interpret a rich natural and cultural history, this valley provides many wildlife viewing opportunities through serpentine grassland, dunes, redwoods, and willow riparian corridor. 
Field trips to the Tennessee Hollow Watershed will include the following experiences:
  • A fun sensory hike where students journal as they learn about unique native plant and wildlife species
  • Explore the concept of watershed
  • Participate in an environmental service project where students are engaged in actively helping to improve the park for plants, wildlife, and humans
  • Hands-on activities whereby students explore the biological relationships that make up our local ecosystems


Grades: 3 - 5
Cost: Free
Time: 2-3 hours (pre-site classroom visit may be scheduled based on staff availability; multiple field trips encouraged)
Location: Program begins at Inspiration Point
  • Common Core State Standards English Language Arts: W.1; W.2; W.3; SL.1; SL.3; SL.5; RF4; L1; L6
  • Next Generation Science Standards: 3LS4.C; 3-LS4-3; 3-LS4-4; 3-LS2.C; LS4.D; 4-LS1-1; 5-PS3-1; 5-PS3-1; 5-LS1.C
  • Physical Education Model Content Standards: 5.5


Register Now >>


Thingamajigs and Whatchamacallits (Grades 2-3)
Thingamajigs & Whatchamacallits introduces young students to the field of archaeology and provides them with an opportunity to explore past cultures by comparing and contrasting artifacts. Utilizing their observation skills, students examine historic images to learn about daily life during the Ohlone, Spanish and early American eras at the Presidio. Students then excavate wheelbarrows filled with replica artifacts and in small groups they classify their assemblage according to color, size, material and function. After collectively charting their data as a class, students reflect on the similarities and differences between people’s daily lives throughout time and understand that although cultures use different artifacts for shelter, clothing, food, work, play, and transportation all humans share these similar needs. 
Grades: 2 - 3 
Cost: Free
Time: 1.5 hours (3 hours with addition of hike)
  • Common Core State Standards English Language Arts: 2.WS.8; 2.SL.1, 2 & 3; 2.LS.4; 3.WS.8; 3.SL.1 & 3
  • Common Core State Standards Math:  2.MD.10; 3.MD.3
  • History Social Science State Standards: 2.1.1; 2.2.3; 3.2.2 & 4; 3.3.1 & 3
  • Next Generation Science Standards: K-2-ETS1-2 & 2-PS1-1
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