Ideas and inspiration for walking in San Francisco during shelter-in-place and COVID-19
We can still walk… and thank goodness
In the immediate aftermath of Monday’s citywide order to shelter-in-place due to COVID-19 and the word “lockdown” on everyone’s lips, I wondered what it meant for walking in San Francisco.
It was more than a relief to read the entire order and see that walking is considered an essential activity, and therefore exempt from the ban on travel. Here’s exactly what it says in Section 10:
To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, or running.
Remember: you must always maintain a 6+ foot distance from others in order to abide by current health requirements.
More than ever, we need to walk. The list of health benefits of walking has always been long, from boosting your immune system to fighting heart disease to reducing stress (obviously a more important benefit than ever).
But I’ve been experiencing other benefits of walking. Simply seeing people, even at a distance, heartens me. Witnessing magnolias in bloom in Golden Gate Park soothes me. Being out on foot feels like a gift… and such a powerful reminder of how walking is part of our shared humanity.
So I wanted to share some ideas for walks big and small. I also encourage you to share photos and tips from your walks on social media with #IWalkSF.
You can of course do short sections of any of these walks, or piece the entire walk together over multiple days.
- The new Crosstown Trail. The Crosstown Trail is an incredible new route that opened last June connecting the southeast and northwest corners of the city. Some of our awesome members, including Bob Siegel and Karen Rhodes, were instrumental in the creation of the Crosstown Trail. You can learn about their efforts and get a real flavor for the route in this New York Times article, plus this piece by Carl Nolte.
- The new 49 Mile Scenic Route. San Francisco Chronicle reporters Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub decided to rethink the 49 Mile Scenic Drive. Check out their fantastic revised route (which also has an app). As Knight says, “Walking is certainly the best way to see San Francisco.” I also recommend Walking San Francisco’s 49 Mile Scenic Drive by Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Eidson.
- The “rogue” Peak2Peak. Each year, our Peak2Peak walking adventure winds through historical, architectural, and natural landscapes along a top secret, ~13-mile course. The route and views always astound even the most seasoned San Franciscan walker. We’re offering a DIY version of the 15th anniversary 2019 Peak2Peak, which includes the turn-by-turn route that Caille Milner wrote about.
- Pick a peak (or peaks). We’ve got so many hilltop treasures, and I still meet people who have never hiked up to my favorite: Grandview Park and the mosaic stairs (also on my list are Corona Heights and Strawberry Hill). Check out this piece by Thomas Graham about seven peaks to summit in the heart of the city.
- Walk to takeout. Our local businesses really need our support right now, so look up a restaurant in a completely different neighborhood and see if it’s doing takeout business.
- Step it up. Brock Keeling put together a fun and less predictable collection of stairway walks. Also, the DIY Peak2Peak includes some truly wild, hard-to-find stairways in Forest Hill and Golden Gate Heights that I had never experienced before.
- Get into Golden Gate Park. People are flocking to Golden Gate Park as one of the few places in the city where walking, biking, running, and playing outdoors is possible while maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. And the park is absolutely stunning right now (that’s where I saw the magnolias). Join us in asking city leaders to make JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park car-free everyday during shelter-in-place.
San Francisco is a walking city, and these lists of course barely scratch the surface. An excellent resource is The Walker’s Map of San Francisco, which you can order from Pease Press to be sent right to you since stores that carry it are currently closed.
I hope you’ll share your ideas for walks on social media using #IWalkSF.
Banner image: Jason Henry for the New York Times for the article A 17-Mile Hike to Unite San Francisco