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Behind the scenes with Cole Brennan and our upcoming 49 Mile Scenic Walk

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Cole, pictured here on the left, is a superstar volunteer and helped devise our epic new walking event.

We interviewed Cole Brennan, one of two volunteers who planned Walk SF’s upcoming 49 Mile Scenic Walk. Cole has walked the entire route already (which she says is relatively flat!) and has some fun insights to share about the 49 Mile Scenic Walk and how streets shape the feel of different neighborhoods.

Why did you decide to walk the 49 Mile Scenic Drive?

I found the book on Walking the Scenic 49 Mile Drive at the Market Street Rail Museum. It seemed like a great way to repurpose a bit of car culture and see more of the city, while getting a bigger picture view of San Francisco.

What has been the most surprising part of testing out the 49 Mile Scenic Walk?

As I walked the 49 Mile Scenic Walk, I got a new sense of how the streets make these neighborhoods feel different and how they weave a different fabric for the neighborhoods that we sometimes define by their demographics or climate.

The entire 49 Mile Scenic Walk route.

I walked the route in the winter, from December 2018 to January 2019. I was surprised by how quiet some of the tourist spots were. You can have Fisherman’s Wharf all to yourself if you visit off-peak.

Walking the whole route in pieces meant that I had to take many buses around the city. The bus rides were an interesting adventure in their own right! I found them to be a good time for reflection on the walks, on the city, and on walking in San Francisco more generally. Between the bus rides and the walks, I think I saw more of the city in my one month of walking this route than I usually do in a whole year.

You’ve been a Walk Leader on Peak2Peak as well as our 20K Perimeter View Walk. How do those compare to the 49 Mile Walk?

The 49 Mile Scenic Walk is much less steep! Not flat, mind you, but definitely easier. Steepness aside, the 49 Mile Scenic Walk is split into 9 walks over 9 months. I found it really rewarding to come back to a place and keep going, to make this big loop around so much of the city. When you get back to City Hall at the end you feel like you know the city in a new way, even the parts you’ve seen a hundred thousand times.

What are you looking forward to in bringing a group of walkers to the 49 Mile Walk with you?

One thing I’ve learned from Peak2Peak and the 20K Perimeter walk is that more people means more memories, insights, and stories to bring the walk to life. Between the points of historical interest and the great variety of neighborhoods along the route, I think people will have a lot to say. Since we’ll be walking the 49 miles across nine months, there’s plenty of time for reflection. Or research, if you’re so inclined!

Anything else people should know about the 49 Mile Scenic Walk?

This is a great opportunity to walk the whole Scenic 49 Mile route in manageable pieces and with good company. And the book that these walks are based on, Walking San Francisco’s 49 Mile Scenic Drive, is really fun and fabulously well-researched. A must for any San Franciscan who loves to walk!

Get your passport to be part of the 49 Mile Scenic Walk starting in February now.

Banner image courtesy of the authors of Walking San Francisco’s 49 Mile Scenic Drive.