With its remarkable charm, nature and history, El Polín Spring is an “outdoor classroom” welcoming school groups, birders, history buffs, and picnickers. It is located at the heart of Tennessee Hollow, the park’s largest watershed, just off the Ecology Trail.
The year-round, fresh water here gives life to some of the most ecologically rich wildlife habitat in the Presidio. Over centuries, water also made this a popular place for people to live. Native Ohlone, Spanish-colonial, Mexican, and U.S. Army-era settlers shaped the land, leaving traces that are still being discovered even today.
El Polín is the only named spring in the park. Some believe that the Spaniards called the spring El Polín, after their word for great wooden rollers used to load cargo aboard ships. Others believe that it might be a Spanish interpretation of a name passed down from the native Ohlone tribes who lived here.
El Polín Spring has been revitalized as a welcoming place to experience history and nature, or simply to enjoy the outdoors. A section of creek once buried in a storm drain is now opened up to the sun. Native plant restoration, made possible with volunteer support, brings seasonal blooms and amazing birdlife. A picnic area with barbecue, benches, gathering spaces, and new exhibits - including the park's first bilingual signs - invites a visit.