Presidio of San Francisco (October 22, 2009)
-- Bay Area hikers, bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts have spent the summer celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Bay Area Ridge Trail
. A key segment of the trail winds through the Presidio, from the Arguello Gate to the Golden Gate Bridge. The spectacular 2.7 mile leg formally opened to the public on October 27, 1999.
One of four regional trails in the Presidio, the Bay Area Ridge Trail provides visitors a view of a cross-section of the Presidio, its history and breathtaking natural beauty. Just steps inside the Arguello Gate lies the Presidio Golf Course
, the second oldest course in northern California. Built in 1895, the course has played host to some of the greatest golfers in the world as well as to refugees of the 1906 earthquake. President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the troops on the course during his visit to the Presidio in 1903.
A short detour off the trail brings visitors to Inspiration Point
, the park’s first major scenic overlook with views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz and Angel Island.
As they wind their way through the historic Presidio forest, visitors slowly climb to the park’s highest point—the Rob Hill Campground
(currently undergoing a major, two-year expansion, the campground is scheduled to re-open for the 2010 season). The trail then goes past Ft. Scott
and the future site of the Golden Gate Overlook, before reaching the Golden Gate Bridge
, where it merges with the California Coastal Trail
and provides a link for hikers from San Francisco to the Marin Headlands all the way to Olema in western Marin County.
Two of the trail’s most dramatic features are two of its newest. Completed in October 2008, British artist Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture Spire
pays homage to the Presidio’s historic forest and efforts to preserve it. Built from trees removed as part of the reforestation program, the sculpture will eventually be engulfed by the forest as the new trees grow up around it. And tucked into the woods above the San Francisco National Cemetery
, the new National Cemetery Overlook
, which opens on Veteran’s Day, will provide a stunning, contemplative vantage point that commemorates the sacrifices of American soldiers and their service to the nation.
The two new additions highlight a series of recent improvements made to the trail. Plans are in place to complete improvements to the remaining third of the trail in the next few years.
Those improvements are part of a broader campaign to transform the Presidio’s network of trails, bikeways and overlooks. A dozen major trail corridors are being overhauled as part of this comprehensive, three-year, trails and bikeways program which is made possible by challenge grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and is being undertaken in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Parks Service. To join this final push to meet the challenge grant, please contact the Parks Conservancy.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail will ultimately be a 550 mile trail along Bay Area ridge tops encircling San Francisco Bay. To date more than 320 miles of trail have been dedicated across each of the 9 Bay Area counties.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The areas overseen by the Trust include expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The park comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to the Presidio's status as a National Historic Landmark District.