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Mountain Lake


Mountain Lake, a natural lake in the southwest Presidio, is an important place for both nature and history.

In 1776, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza's scouting party camped here when the explorers arrived to establish the Spanish military outpost that would become the Presidio. Later the lake was a water source for the growing city of San Francisco. Mountain Lake's fresh waters have also long made life possible for plants, birds, and other wildlife.
For a number of decades Mountain Lake's health declined due to a variety of factors. In the 1930s, a highway was built through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge, dramatically reducing the lake's size and depth. Runoff from this roadway, a nearby golf course, and the surrounding city harmed the lake's water quality. Non-native species also found their way into the lake, causing some local plants and wildlife to disappear.
Enhancing Mountain Lake
Since 2001, park managers and volunteers have been working to return the lake to health. The effort took a major leap forward in 2013 when contaminated sediment was removed, increasing the depth of the lake by 50 percent and creating conditions for the habitat here to thrive once again.

Today, Mountain Lake is a living laboratory for restoration and an exciting place to explore how a natural area can be brought back to life with the support and participation of the community.
The next five years (2014-2019) will bring exciting improvements as long missing native plants and wildlife return, areas surrounding the lake are restored, and opportunities for kids and adults alike to learn about the natural world are introduced.
Get Involved!
Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the Mountain Lake is a healthy and vibrant destination for people and wildlife for generations to come -- park managers, neighbors, scientists, school groups, volunteers, and visitors. Get involved!
  1. Take the Pledge to LOVE MOUNTAIN LAKE: There are three simple ways that everyone can help keep Mountain Lake - and other natural gems - healthy. Take the pledge today!

  2. Volunteer: Drop in volunteer days are held on the second Saturday of every month. Help the Presidio Park Stewards with planting, weeding, and care of the site.

  3. Learn: Science Saturdays, fun and educational talks offered by experts from the many partner organizations helping to restore the lake, will be held frequently in 2014. The schedule and topics are listed in the column on the right.

  4. Explore: Go for a stroll, birdwatch, take a break on a bench, or enjoy a family picnic. There is so much to do at Mountain Lake!
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 Visit Mountain Lake


Take the Pledge

Pledge to Love Mountain Lake

There are three simple ways everyone can help keep Mountain Lake healthy.


    Science Saturdays

    Enjoy fun and fascinating talks from scientists and restoration experts.


      A photo of four volunteers with tools working on the shore of Mountain Lake with City of San Francisco homes in the bacckground.

      Volunteer Every Second Saturday

      The Presidio Park Stewards host volunteer drop in days monthly at Mountain Lake.

        Ongoing Restoration

        A close up of the head of a red-eared slider turtle with red and yellow stripes on the side of the face.

        Upcoming Activities

        Get the details on future enhancements at Mountain Lake, including the return of native species.