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Gateway to the South Hills
The area's historic buildings aren’t the only thing to be transformed in recent years. The Public Health Service District has become a major park gateway where visitors can connect with beautiful trails and take in extraordinary views of the wild Presidio.
Direct connections can be made to the:
Lobos Valley Overlook
The Lobos Valley Overlook, located just west of the former hospital, offers a peek into San Francisco’s natural heritage. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy views across a beautiful habitat restoration site all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Lobos is the Spanish word for “wolf,” one of the many wild creatures that once roamed this valley. It was part of a mosaic of vegetated and shifting sand dunes, wetlands, and small creeks that once covered much of San Francisco. Lobos Creek, fed by rains and springs, provided fresh water for the Ohlone people, Native Americans that made their home in Northern California. Lobos Creek flows year-round and still provides most of the water used in the Presidio.
From the late 18th century onward, as more people inhabited the area, the character and ecology of Lobos Creek Valley was changed by human use. People grazed cattle here and grew vegetables. As part of the forestation of the Presidio at the end of the 19th century, the Army planted Monterey Cypress in the valley. The Army used the area for training and recreation, and even built a balloon hangar here in 1910.
Habitat restoration began in the mid-1990s. Dunes have been rebuilt using local sand, and the Presidio Nursery was created to grow native plants from seeds gathered in the park’s remaining dune habitats. Park staff and volunteers care for the blooming, buzzing valley which is again home to insects, butterflies, and birds. Helping hands are always needed! Learn more about volunteer opportunities in the Presidio.
Evolution of Lobos Creek Valley
  • 1780s cattle grazing throughout area
  • 1870s dunes leveled for vegetable gardens
  • 1889 trees planted
  • 1892 gardening ceased due to manure contamination of creek
  • 1910 balloon hangar built
  • 1940 baseball field built
  • 1943 last xerces blue butterfly sighted anywhere in the world at Lobos Creek
  • 1994 Presidio becomes a national park site
  • 1996 Lobos Creek Valley habitat restoration begins
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