Hikes: San Bruno Mountain

Hiking San Bruno Mountain doesn’t give you the sense of being away from the City that you get hiking on Mt. Tam or in Point Reyes. But it’s an interesting excursion, particularly if you don’t have a lot of time and yet you want to get outside and out of the City. It’s not often that you’re on a hike that’s so close to SF, and San Bruno Mountain is an unusual intersection of nature and development.

Getting there took me through areas of the City that are mostly unfamiliar to me. I don’t spend much time on Bayshore Boulevard or near the Cow Palace. We passed signs welcoming us to Daly City and then to Brisbane, and went by both rolling green fields and odd Irvine-like business parks.

So I was surprised to find that San Bruno Mountain is a real hike. We took the “Summit Loop” trail which is a little over 3 miles, and we saw hawks, a myriad of different wildflowers, and a true ant hill, teeming with red ants. We wandered through muddy trails, around rock outcroppings and through glens of eucalyptus.

But it’s really just a slice of greenery, sandwiched between two of San Francisco’s busiest highways 101 and 280. At times you can hear the dull rush of the highway. At the top of the mountain, there are TV towers and huge satellite dishes.

Even though you feel far from the City, you can see the City from much of the hike, and the views of SF are tremendous. You see a rare panorama of the City stretching from Candlestick Park on the eastern-most side over to the ocean on SF’s western edge. The views are less inspiring on the other side of the mountain, however, where you look down at Target, Home Depot and the other big box stores in Colma separated from the ticky tacky houses of Daly City by Highway 280.

Despite this, I found the hike surprisingly satisfying. We didn’t have a lot of time but we were able to get out of the City, stretch out legs and see some new wildflowers. And from nearly every point on the hike, we had a new vantage point on some familiar sights.

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