San Francisco Crosstown Trail, Section 1


The Crosstown Trail is a wonderful volunteer-assembled walking/biking trail that extends from the southeast to the northwest corners of San Francisco. They recently just celebrated the 5-year anniversary of the trail and added a “Double Cross Trail” to complete the X from the southwest to northeast corners of the city.

We had been talking about hiking the Crosstown Trail with the Valentes since last year, but it took quite a while for the weather and our schedules to align, and we finally made a start of it on the last weekend of April! The Crosstown Trail is sparse on physical trail markers, but the website and their app includes plenty of detailed information on how to hike it. The entire trail from end to end is 17 miles, but they split it into five sections, and since we had a toddler with us, we figured doing half of Section One would be plenty to start.

It was a bit of a logic puzzle, but we figured that we should drive both cars to the end point, then pile into one car and drive back to the starting point. So here we go, placing a car at McLaren Park and driving over to Candlestick Park for the start.

Candlestick Park is the site of the former 49ers and Giants stadium, infamous for extremely cold and windy games. Now the old stadium has been razed and the site is a state park.

Lots of folks were fishing off the pier. We got lucky with a very sunny day for our hike, although breezy, as is typical for this area.

Hello Valentes!

A view of Sutro Tower from Candlestick.

Cassie and I wore the same outfit without coordinating.

Wildflowers along the trail as we move westward!

Ah, our first sightings of Crosstown Trail markers. Mostly I downloaded their app and followed along that way.

Here the crew stopped to read a for lease ad for these new developments near Candlestick. It’s about $3500 for a 1br.

Through the underpass, and we’re in the Little Hollywood neighborhood.

Spotted this big brick circle, which indicates an underground cistern! You can find these all around San Francisco– our city’s response to the terrible fires it’s endured through its history.

After crossing Bayshore Ave, we found ourselves in Visitacion Valley. 

This very cute shop, Mission Blue, actually sells Crosstown Trail hats and stickers! Perfect, sold. Now I can dress to the theme for the rest of the hikes.

We stopped to enjoy the music and the little art station just around the park just around the corner. Such a wonderful neighborhood feeling.

And then we continued on through the Visitacion Valley Greenway, a verdant path snaking up through the neighborhood.

Not too much longer, and we were back at the base of McLaren Park.

Now to climb a big hill and get back to where we left the first car! Cassie opted for the ‘walk backwards and try to have your dog drag you up’ approach.

Discovered a tiny green hitchhiker on my shirt, and showed it to Leo. Leo tried to eat it, but luckily did not actually.

Nice views over the bay, back over the stretch that we just hiked!

Then Cassie, baby, dog, and I waited at the park while our husbands drove the first car back to Candlestick to fetch the second car. Candlestick is really the only leg of the Crosstown Trail that isn’t accessible by public transit, but it’s probably easier to do this two-car shuffle with the dog and all of us anyway!

And we capped it all off with a lovely lunch nearby at Amami Sushi Bistro. 

We walked just over 3 miles for this portion of the Crosstown Trail, and we all really loved it! Such a great way to get out and explore our city, on foot. Stay tuned for the rest of our Section 1 trek… and then the rest is dependent on our ability to align schedules again.

Try it yourself! Visit for all the details.

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at