Urban Hiking

San Francisco hill


The uniformed lady shook her head and informed me that my planned walking route into Chinatown was no good. “It’s all hill,” she said, not realizing that she’d just confirmed my decision.

parking "SF style"

San Francisco’s drastic changes in elevation are no exaggeration. Cars systematically park with wheels turned in to the curb. The Metro buses and trolleys run strategically up and down the steepest slopes. Women do not where high heels without ready transportation available, but it’s a great walking city and navigating San Francisco is excellent exercise.

AlcatrazChinatown is always worth a wander as is the Embarcadero along the Bay. After a ferry crossing, Alcatraz is an engrossing ramble rich with eerie histories, and Golden Gate Park holds miles of parkland and gardens.


I walked alone the last time, meeting people, taking photos, and just breathing it all in. I enjoyed wandering with vague purposes and grand appreciations and found myself gently nudging some lingering memories from my last visit there with an 11-year old boy who is now a young man.

A bike ride to Sausalito and late ferry ride back to the city, a run across the Golden Gate Bridge, an exotic pet store in Chinatown, breakfast crepes on a pier…   We jammed a lot into our time there some nine years ago and even more in the years that followed.  Life stayed “busy” the whole way through.

cable car

I’m so glad we took the time to hang off the sides of a few cable cars together.

San Francisco Things To Do

Consider the Fairmont Hotel for your overnight stay and enjoy elegant accommodations and memorable dining.  The historic Tonga Room features live music on a floating stage and periodic “rainstorms,” complete with thunder and lightning.

16 Comments to Urban Hiking

  1. I’ve not been to San Francisco since 1983. What I recall most fondly (I was 23 then) was you could drink beer as you walked along the street — you just had to keep it in a bag.

  2. I know what you’re talking about “hiking” in SF. I did it my self some years ago and it was fun. I had also my own cable car driver who drove me trough the whole town 🙂

    Great post, Heather!

    Sue’s Daily Photography

  3. Two words that should sound strange together yet it has a nice ring… Urban Hiking

    That part of California has a lot of hills. Great for those TV police chases 🙂

    That’s a fantastic photo from the sidewalk up the hill. It really shows the degree of the hill.

  4. Delmer: The idea of walking it off as you drink it is a sound one, I think! It’s the guys that just sit there that lose track of things.
    Sue: Your own car?! Now that’s pretty cool. Zach and I had a lot of fun jumping on and off of the cable cars as needed during our trip there a few years back. Perfect kind of trip for an 11-year old boy!
    -Which reminds me that my youngest is now eleven…
    Brian: The hills definitely made it more of a hiking experience! -And yes, San Francisco is a photogenic city with a view at every turn. I appreciate its eclectic sort of mix which makes it kind of a microcosm of California itself.

  5. Wow. I knew SF was steep but not enough to qualify as a hiking destination!

  6. It’s been 15 years since I visited San Francisco, with my own teenagers. Your post is a great reminder that it’s time for me to go back. Next time, I’ll do a little urban hiking.

  7. One of the best runs of my life—across the GG bridge. It was an unusually sunny, clear day. Of course I had to stop and take in the view.

  8. Fly Girl: Some of those hills were as steep as the trails I mountain biked in Mammoth Lakes the next week! The obstacles were different; fire hydrants instead of tree roots and rocks, but there were some definite similarities, cardio-vascular-ly speaking.
    Donna: San Francisco can be as active a destination as you want it to be. I noticed a lot more bikes and bike lanes this time around. When Zach and I rode across the GG bridge to Sausalito several years ago, we pretty much had the route to ourselves. There are many more bike rental agencies now -making cycling a pretty easy way to get around the city too.
    Bartolomo: I’ll always remember my GG run too. We touched a post on the other side before running back across that very windy bridge! It was especially meaningful to me because it was my first “back to normal” run after ankle surgery. ~Fun memory to have with my son too…

  9. Heather, I predict that you will live on the west coast one day……or at least have a vacation home there!

  10. Bring Back Pluto

    Your pics remind me that I need to get out to the Bay Area and visit my family. San Francisco is a marvel, especially the first time you go.
    But you mention another visit, with an 11 yr. old boy. ??
    I must be out of the loop.
    Great stuff!
    Bring Back Pluto
    “ONE of THE GUYS”

  11. Mark: My kids will be thrilled to hear your prediction! I DO love the variety of outdoor activities available out there.
    Bring Back Pluto (love that ID, by the way!): One of my favorite things has been to take my three kids on individual trips, and SF was one of Zach’s special adventures (he’s now 17 1/2!). All four of us hiked through southern Utah last summer: “Utah” under “USA” in the sidebar.

  12. I missed “blog hiking” in your site, my blog lists failed to play its role.
    Urban hiking? It must be fun, if not after the black smoke.

    • Rainfield,
      My URL has changed due to an unwieldy upgrade to my WordPress. You’ve reminded me that I need to send out a few “please update” notes. My new address is: http://www.heatherdugan.com/blogNEW/ (if you wouldn’t mind updating your link to me…) Do you think that San Francisco’s hills compare to your jungle climbs? They can be steep!

  13. Love the new blog, Heather! What a beautiful Chinatown post. Great photos and text. Are you thinking of publishing your blog? it would make for great book reading too. Especially loved the family time. How beautiful.

    Good morning!

    Blessings! Nancy J Locke

  14. Trisha Pearson

    Now I’m wishing we would have decided to visit San Francisco on vacation!

  15. Thanks Nancy! My aim was to create easier site navigation to destinations and activities of interest to my readers. I’ll keep tweaking…!
    Thanks also for the encouragement on publishing. That would always be my hope. This site is really only the tip of that particular iceberg!
    Trisha: Add it to your future vacation/get-away list. For an urban setting, it has a good deal of outdoor action readily available. A nice mix, to say the least!

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