In North Carolina there are what Xan and I like to call “natural attractions” all around. When we lived there we were just 3 hours away from North Carolina’s beautiful beaches with warm water nearly all year round. Taking a dip there is almost never out of the question unlike the chilly waters and rocky coastlines of the Pacific. Then there are the mountains. Xan and I both went to a college nestled in the Appalachians where you were never more than 10 minutes away from hiking, camping, swimming holes, and waterfalls. Fresh air and green leaves were a part of every day life. And that’s one of the things I miss the most about living in NC. San Francisco has so many amazing qualities, but without a car the natural attractions can be harder to get to. Nine times out of ten not owning a car isn’t a problem. About the only time I truly wish we had one is for quick trips out of the city to get into nature. That’s why I was so excited to discover Mount Sutro! It’s a small mountain in the middle of the city mostly known for it’s huge TV tower. But, it’s also this amazing forest with a slew of hiking trails. It’s lush and green and quiet. It’s a hidden gem I can hardly believe is actually in the city. When you’re there you feel like there’s nobody else around, even though just steps away San Francisco is bustling along as usual.
There are several trailheads, but the one we use is at Stanyan and 17th and once you walk up the steps you’re immediately in another world. There are several trails and we like to try different ones each time. You can do a quick hike that’s a mile or less or you can do longer ones. You’ll catch glimpses of city skylines as well as ocean and bay views. And you’ll be surrounded by dense, lush forest. It’s really kind of magical. I highly recommend it. If you don’t live nearby I also recommend turning it into an excursion and getting lunch after. There are several good places in Cole Valley (Padrecito and the Ice Cream Bar would be my recommendations) or hop on the N and ride a couple stops up to 9th and Irving and eat at one of the many restaurants there. It’s a perfect weekend escape. And the best part is that you don’t even have to leave the city. Give it a try, and in the meantime I’ll be searching San Francisco for the next perfect natural attraction adventure!