Expedition 17: San Francisco Crosstown Trail

November 15, 2023. I got to SF around noon to walk the southern part of the Crosstown Trail. The trail opened in 2019 and “runs through hidden trails, public parks, shopping corridors, tiled stairways, and community gardens along the way” according to the website. It’s about 45% roads and sidewalks, 15% paved off-road paths, and 40% trails. I started at the Sunrise Point Fishing Pier at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, which is the southeasternmost point in San Francisco. 

A plaque in the park referred to it as a jewel. Hmm, a diamond in the rough, perhaps? The park was voted into existence in 1977. I don’t know how long it took to convert it from a dump to what is now. It must’ve looked better at some point in the past though! There are campsites (currently closed) but I wouldn’t feel comfortable camping here. It feels like a sketchy area and the fenced off ruin of the former Candlestick Park is creepy. On the other hand, across the street is an executive office park and some luxury apartment buildings. Still, I felt fine walking around and would certainly come back. The views are great. 

I went through the tunnel to the Little Hollywood neighborhood, a completely different vibe. Cute, quiet, tiny neighborhood with houses that look like 1930’s Hollywood houses. This grand house was rumored to be home to Mae West at one time (probably not). The one across the street is also fairly grand and sports a Statue of Liberty in front. One aim of my expeditions is to take me places I would otherwise never visit, and Little Hollywood certainly qualifies. I’d never even heard of it before!

Next up was Visitacion Valley (aka Viz Valley). The Main Street, Leland, is also super cute. I had a fantastic tamale at the Creative Ideas Cafe; the masa was so tasty I would’ve eaten it without the pork filling! As I sat out front eating, five people tried the door of the post office (which was closed for lunch!). They seemed like a cross section of the diverse population of the neighborhood and added to the village feel. Not only that, the independent pharmacy still develops film! 

Two blocks down I turned north on the Visitacion Valley Greenway. The path on the last block of the greenway winds back and forth up the hill. It felt meditative, kind of like walking a maze. The trail heads east into McLaren Park. It’s pretty steep here and I was not keen on going farther uphill (good thing I didn’t research that beforehand!). Later the trail coincides with the Philosopher’s Way which goes through a pretty stretch of woods. The Way is dotted with plaques containing philosophical quotations. 

At this point my phone was nearly dead and I was wondering how I’d get back to my car without it. Then I realized I’d be taking the bus and could consult the bus shelter map. Whew! Sometimes it’s scary how tech-reliant I am. I came out of the park in Portola, “the little hood that could,” passing through the Portola Playground and past the huge campus of the Cornerstone Evangelical Baptist Church. 

There was one more little passage, Sunglow Lane, and then over the freeway to Glen Park BART. In addition to forgetting my phone charger, I forgot my Clipper Card, so I paid to get on the bus (Not Mewni, unfortunately). It’s been ages since I got a transfer on Muni; they are quite different now from the floppy, long paper strips of yore. 

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