Story and photos by Murray Schneider
The long awaited completion of the SFUSD section of the Creeks to Peaks Trail began on February 22 and is scheduled to take two months to finish. The project will end when natural surface box steps, particularly in steep areas at both ends of switchbacks, are constructed atop the School of the Arts campus.
Other improvements include refinement of the trail-walking surface, drainage, and placement of a trailhead sign.
The contractor’s start date was originally anticipated to be January 19, but was postponed due to weather.
Rec and Park has placed its staging area at the top of Portola Drive trailhead. This space includes fence panels and signs signaling a detour route to Turquoise Way for the remainder of the project, which is scheduled to end in late April.
“The section of trail that traverses the School of the Arts property is a critical piece of the Creeks to Peaks trail corridor,” said Joey Kahn, a San Francisco Recreation and Park Department spokesperson.
In 2012 voters approved a Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond that allocated $4 million to the Park Trail Improvement Program. Prior to 2012, voters approved the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Park Bond that included the Park Trail Improvement Program, which allocated $5 million for the restoration of recreational trails, protection of natural resources, development of trail networks and improvement of overall safety.
Within the last few months, the San Francisco Park Alliance and the Open Space Fund help underwrite the completion of the Creeks to Peaks Connector Project.
The trail features realigned tread surfaces, sustainable grades and elevated hiking paths that eliminate muddy trail sections. It passes California wild flowers, owls and hawks, song birds and banana slugs, one of San Francisco’s two remaining above ground creeks, Franciscan chert rock outcrops, reintroduced California habitat-friendly native plants, redwood and California oak trees and on some days even a coyote or two napping beneath Arroyo willow.
Once the SOTA connector trail is completed, hikers will find it easier to negotiate what has been since July of last year, in some places, a scrabble of loose pebbles and a sharply angled descent that might have challenged the heartiest octogenarian.
The added box steps and the trail grading complete a process that began in the spring of 2011 when the Trust for Public Land led a participatory design process that solicited input from the public about what it envisioned in Glen Canyon Park.
The result of some 12 public meetings, as well as the July 17 – 19, 2015 work by Volunteers for Outdoor California and Recreation and Park staff has meant that Creeks to Peaks finally creates an accessible connection between Glen Canyon Park and the summits of Twin Peaks.
Except for crossing Portola Drive at Glenview Drive, day hikers will now be able to enjoy an extended green beltway from the Glen Canyon’s Elk Street entrance to Twin Peaks.
Walking on canyon trails, some more strenuous than others, hikers—while negotiating paths named Gum Tree Girls, Islais Creek and Coyote Crags Trails—will join rock climbers, dog walkers, nursery school and summer camp kids who daily wrap their imaginations around Glen Canyon’s delights.
When the long-awaited connector trail is finished, one of San Francisco’s Significant Natural Areas, 70-acre Glen Canyon Park, will now become readily and safely accessible, giving San Francisco “”a premier urban hiking experience not found in many cities,” said Kahn.