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April 2001

Type: Municipal Hilltop Park, SNRA park, 11 acres.
Entrance Location: 14th & 15th Avenue circle the base of the hill. 2 stairways exist, one on 15th at about Noriega, another on 14th at Moraga. There is also a long sandy path at the three-street junction of 14th, 15th and Aloha which ascends to the peak and is the most difficult access. Most recommended access is street parking from Funston and Moraga and prepare to climb stairs.
Facilities: None.
Fee-Hours: No fee. No curfew noted.
Dogs: Poor. Steep climbs. No off-leash open space. Ecologicaly sensitive environment. Poison oak abundant in chaparral.

Known also in the neighborhood as Turtle Hill, this is an extraordinary hilltop park. There is an astounding ocean view over the Sunset District from quite high up (650').  It is not a large park, and because of its openness and protected hillsides (protected for the habitat, including the endangered Dune Tansy and Franciscan Wallflower), there is little explorability. This is a park to come to and enjoy the panorama, and this particular panorama is quite engaging. It is generally visited by one or two people at a time, and receives the full brunt of ocean wind. Stairs climb to the peak along the eastern and southern slopes. After climbing 102 stairs on the shorter east climb, the top is covered with original sand from when this area was an unbroken belt of sand dunes to the sea. It is one of the last remaining habitats of its kind in San Francisco which is at all inland, essentially a great dune anchored by remnants of coastal scrub and coastal strand. Even though the hillsides seem respected enough by people, annual grasses, some eucalyptus and other weeds are doing their best to choke out the native plants. The wallflower is rare, even here. The tansy is abundant, however, and there are also frequent appearances of phalecia (purpely flower, coiled caterpillar-like bud) which is an interesting plant and may have been introduced recently. Cresting the peak is a small grove of resourceful cypress and eucalyptus trees (they do not offer much wind shelter). One large cypress tree has died and fallen over to a 45 degree angle where its many branches have been stripped of bark down to a smooth skeleton. The fallen tree is so large that it can be easily recognized far down from the streets of the Sunset, and there are some nice wood forms associated with it up close. It is also a nicely climbable 'structure.' The view is the premier feature here as it extends down to Daly City, around to Golden Gate Park, part of downtown, and Mount Sutro with the tower looming like a great sentinel. This is an excellent survey point, and a highly recommended place to spend some time if it is not too cold. It is one of the most interesting hilltop views in the city and one of 15 selected highlight spots of San Francisco.

Best Features: Phenomenal view. Interesting geological features and one of the last remaining habitat 'islands' of its kind. Uncrowded. Especially meditative spot.

Worst Features: Takes the full brunt of the ocean wind, which may make it too cold for comfort. Privacy is easily disturbed in this space. Climbing over 100 stairs may be annoying. Little explorability. Native scrub is competing with annual grasses, poison oak and other weeds.