March 1999

Type: Municipal Park, SNRA park, 59 acres.
Entrance Location: Twin Peaks Rd off Portola just east of JCT with O'Shaugnessy. Continue up to the peaks with no mountain access before then.
Facilities: Coin operated restroom (as of June, 2001). Phone and water unknown.
Hours-Fee: No fee. No known curfew. 20 minute parking posted in main lot at top.
Dogs: Poor. High winds. Little walking opportunity. No off-leash. No free-roaming open space.

Whereas neighboring Mount Sutro essentially tells you to go to blazes, Twin Peaks welcomes you in with all the alacrity of a hilltop Holiday Inn. Its peculiarity as a conspicuous dual peak summit with a spectacular easterly view has made it destined to become a San Francisco icon. The park conspicuously emphasizes a harsh and threatened habitat for the Mission Blue and San Bruno Elfin, which are certainly not helped volume of visitation Twin Peaks engenders. The view is fantastic, but the focus from tourists may lead one to wonder if there are not other views this nice from less crowded areas. The answer is, abundantly, yes there are, and that quite surprisingly the quality of view from Twin Peaks is perhaps fourth when considering its aesthetic qualities as a panorama (compare to Tank Hill, Grand View Heights, and Sutro Heights Park). Close runners up are Bernal Heights, Merced Heights Rock, and Bay View Hill. One thing this view really brings home is how dense San Francisco really is. When you get it visually like this, you really get it. The mountain itself has very limited access. There is nowhere to pull off on the way up to the pinnacle parking lot which is often full to capacity. This view area incidentally has a 20 minute parking limit and is the only place to park, which poses a significant limitiation to trying to explore the area. There are trails which climb the final 70' or so to the very apex of the two peaks, but nothing else with any extensity. This may actually save the habitat from complete extinction by trampling and can be said to serve the park well. On an average day, Twin Peaks will be harsh and cold. If winds are up in general, merely standing up may be a challenge. Still, no amount of crowding can alter the fact that the view is unique and phenomenal. The peaks themselves are perhaps most distinctive for their views of each other than for the surrounding landscape. There is no recreational potential here. It should be understood exclusively as a view area, especially sensational of the city at night.

Best Features: The view, both towards downtown and Sutro Tower. Good separation from the city. Ecologically significant area.

Worst Features:  The company -- tourists, crowded. The wind. The fact that parking is limited to 20 minutes. Little explorability.


View of the south peak from the north peak.