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Be more fit for soccer? Do a great loop of 2.5 hours in the Presidio of San Francisco.

I love to walk around in the city. As I said many times, even after 8 years, I still have the sensation of being a tourist! In particular when I walk, sometimes joggling, in the Presidio and down to the ocean.

To stay fit is good, in particular if you are not 20 anymore, and for youths, it’s not only great, it‘s MANDATORY! What is important is not getting bored while doing it so, a loop is perfect because you never come back the way you came. Plus, being a circle that brings you away from your home or school, you are forced to finish it!

If you’d like to do it, here’s a loop of 2.5 hours (walking time!), that is very scenic, various (up and down) and almost always away from streets and cars! Than means through great low vegetation, trees and sand.

So, lets start the Coach Gianni’s Loop.

The beginning is the Lyon Stairs at the end of Green Street, on the corner of Lyon street. But because they are really steep and it’s not a great idea starting like that, let’s park the car at the beginning of Lyon, a few blocks back, close to the Lombard Gate of the Presidio of San Francisco, and let’s walk or jog to the stairs as a warm-up.

Go up the stairs. They are 2 blocks long and very steep so, go slow because this is ONLY the beginning. At the top, enter the gate to your right. Go down, cross the street (careful, not only Italians are IDIOTS while driving the car) and keep going straight down through the sand dunes. Follow the path that borders the baseball field, keeping it to your right, and come to the dirt parking lot.

Cross it and go straight up the sand dunes, following the path. At a certain point, you’ll see a short cut that leads to the top. At the end, you’ll come to the entrance of the Presidio Golf Course. (This, is not for sale for $1!!!! To bad. A youth golf lesson here, is $120 for 55 minutes! So, my $70 an hour for a soccer lesson doesn’t seem too much!) Walk a little to your right. Cross the street, in correspondence with the crosswalks, and take the path to the right that goes around the golf course. When you encounter a “V” take a left going up.

You’ll come to a fence of an electric facility with a metal tower. A dozen yards before that, take the little path to the left, into the woods that leads to the golf course. When in the golf course, without disturbing the eventual players that are there, stay to the far right, close to the fence and walk down on the little asphalt path of the golf course. (in going down, if you see a golf player who’s trying to concentrate on hitting the ball, please stop and wait a few seconds!) At the end, you’ll see a gate to go out of the golf. (STOP sigh) Go out.

When out, follow Washington Street to the left. There is no traffic being that it’s in the Presidio. (If you are not familiar with this part of the city, the Presidio is basically a park!) So, you can walk along the street or follow the fence of the golf for a little while. In a few minutes, you’ll reach Battery Caulfield Rd. Go left on it for 300/400 yards down. There, turn right, before an immense sand dune and follow the street in dirt. Pass a chain and go out of the opposite entrance in a T street. It’s a “not a through street” so, no danger. Go left for 20 yards and the street will end in a great vegetation area under restoration so, careful where the new plants are planted! Keep walking in this paradise, slowly keeping right going down. Great view of this little valley to your left, keep walking down to a play ground, with big columns in wood.

Just before the play ground, turn left, follow the path down for 50 yards until you reach the main path. Go right on it! Keep going on the dirt/sand path, cross 2 streets (careful of the first! The same idiots as before, are there waiting for you!) until the path makes a big ‘S’ in a flat area with trees. At this point you’ll see the OCEAN!!! Stop a little while, and look to your left, the most beautiful home in San Francisco! (in my opinion!) It’s white, with big windows, totally immersed in the vegetation and with an oriental garden, that seems unreal!

Keep going down, on the sand path to the right. You’ll reach the parking lot of Baker beach. (where we had the soccer classes last year in August, on the sand! Time flies. Seems yesterday and it’s 10 months ago!) There is a bathroom there.

Follow the only path that leads to the beach and walk to the right toward the bridge. The view is astonishing, even if you have already being there!

Almost at the end of the beach, look right and………………………… don’t faint!

There is a stairway that goes straight up! Go there and…………………go up. A sincere hint. When you are at the bottom of the stairs, don’t look up. In doing that you’ll have the clear sensation that this stairway WILL NEVER END! (which is………………………….. true!) So, just look at the few steps ahead of you and sometimes look back to the ocean. The view is great and gives you the sensation that you already have done a lot of the stairs. There are ‘only’ 251 steps! I know it, because half way, I went back and counted it. So, I know for sure! To be sincere, at the end of the 251, there is a kind of flat path and after, 20 steeps more but, who cares after the other 251!

At the end, you reach a street. Careful. (the same…………………) Cross the guard rail, cross the street and go down (right) for 50/60 yards. Turn left on the path that goes up. In a few minutes you’ll be in a great place. Great for a pick-nick if you have time. If you’d like something stronger than a pick-nick, keep going UP a little! You’ll encounter a fallen tree on the path. Don’t pass under. Go around. I already did the experiment and………………………………... it was a wrong choice! Please, don’t ask!

After the tree, the path is very steep so, slow down. There is no need to sweat a lot because after you’ll be wet and is not great to walk like that, in particular if it’s windy. When you come to the top, careful, cross the guard rail and look in front across the street. To your far left, you’ll see 2 new tables in wood. Behind them, there is a little path so, cross the street, go there and go up! Just after 20 yards, there is a little path to the left (a short cut) that leads strait under a giant pine. Pass under the low branch of the pine, go out and you’ll see, to your left, a great and organized barbecue area! Tables, barbecues, a place for an big open fire with big trunks for sitting around it, and bathrooms. (remember my article about alternative practices? This is the place!!!) Among the many things that I like in this country, there is the fact that we can constantly see where the tax money goes! Like in Italy! (this last was clearly ironical!)

Jus forgetting what you can do in this area, this is only about you, my purpose is to explain a 2.5 hour loop, let’s continue with the itinerary. Walking in the direction of the bathrooms and keep them on your right, go up on the path that you’ll see there. When you are on it, it goes slowly to the left. Keep going.

Here, I’d like to open a little historical parenthesis. In September 1775, the Mexican Government realized that they would likely have lost Alta California, if they didn’t occupy it with consistency. So they sent Captain Juan Bautista de Anza. He, with a small group, reached the tip of the peninsula, where the bridge now starts, on March 28, 1776. They passed exactly on this path. To walk on the same path, always gives me a great emotion because, there was nothing here, besides the Native Americans (the Miwok and the Ohlone), the great Wild Life, and the Mexican expedition! This was only 231 years ago! Nothing! And it was almost like that 159 years ago (1848) when San Francisco, was just a little village call Yerba Buena (after the mint plant) with only 600 inhabitants! In the same year, New York was already a metropolis!

Unfortunately, that year gold was found so, in a peninsula and a bay that was perfect for becoming a National Park, 700 boats arrived carrying more than 40,000 people here, in less that ONE YEAR!

Damn Gold!!! That was the end of this paradise!

If today we still see hundreds of sea lions at Pier 39, imagine 159 years ago! They would have been millions on the beaches of the San Francisco Bay and along the ocean beaches going down to Monterey and giant dear and bears would still have been living and walking around in what today is San Francisco! Plus 300,000 (three hundreds thousands!!!) Native Americans that disappeared in less than a century only in California!!!!! Better not to think about this and not get too sad so, let’s continue with the loop!

In walking on this path, you’ll notice a few little posts with a plaque. That plaque indicates that this is an infinitesimal section of the path that goes AROUND THE BAY. To follow that, take 2.5 years, not 2.5 hours. So, it’s a great loop, but it’s not Coach Gianni’s loop! Maybe it’s better to follow that, another time!

After a little wile, when the path begins to go down, you’ll reach a paved street. There are little posts on wood. Don’t pass them and go left, staying on a gravel path. Go down until you reach a street. Cross it, and stay on the right sidewalk of the street in front of you. Sorry if here, for a few minutes, you’ll hear the noise from cars on the not far away freeway. (Free of what? Who knows!) Keep going until the street turns left. To your right, in a short space, 2 paths start. Take the SECOND! In a few seconds, it’s seems unbelievable, you’ll be in the Amazon jungle!

In going down on this path, you’ll come to a crossing path. Pass the cross and after 10 steps, take the short cut to the left, going deeper into the jungle! What a place. Silence. And, if there is a noise, sorry, a sound, that will only be from birds! Keep going down. At the T path interception, go right. At the following “V” go right.

You’ll reach a chapel. Please look at the great carved trunk that is there on the ground. It represents a whale, with other abstract motives.

At the end of the trunk, turn right and go down the stairs. Here, there is a commemorative standing sign, that honors the Youth Americans, who were sent to die in the Vietnam War and the Veterans who were so lucky to come back! I’m sure that all of these boys and girls, would have preferred walking with us in the Presidio ‘jungle’ instead of dying at 22 in a Vietnam jungle! The plaque says “We will never forget you.”, so I hope you spend a moment in silence there.

Down the stair, you’ll find yourself in the main flat body of the Presidio. Cut freely through this area, by walking with a 45 degree angle, toward the peach-colored cupola of the Exploratorium. You’ll reach the parking lot of the YMCA. Cross that and, continuing to walk in the Exploratorium direction, reach the new Lucas Film facility. Pass through the middle of it. Great place. Walking towards the city direction, go out in Lyon Street. Your car is there waiting for you. But, if you are REALLY OUT OF YOUR MIND (R.O.O.Y.M.), like me, you can go back to the stairs and do a couple UP & DOWNS maybe going up skipping every other steep! In that ROOYM eventuality, don’t forget to stretch before and after!

Another time, you can go in the opposite direction and that means 251 steps + 20, plus the final Lyon stairs, going down! But, where is the fun in doing that?

If you have your personal loop of a couple hours and would like to share it, write to me. I’ll publish it! In a little while, we can have a collection of loops that we can do alternatively without getting bored.


Coach Gianni

P.S. If you are free this Saturday (May 12), I’ll do the loop. If you would like to do it together, see you at the bottom of Lyon stairs (corner of Lyon and Green) at 10:00am and…………...........will go!!!

By the way, if you come, please remember that 10:00am is something between 9:59am and 10:01am. What’s in the middle is ………………………………....10:00am.

Posted on 11 May 2007 by coachgianni
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