Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Park Hike in the Presidio San Francisco

With very few tourists in town these days, San Francisco’s Presidio gets to bask mostly in local love, making now a good time to visit this national park with relative ease and room. For a hike combining art, history, mindfulness, and magnificent beauty, do the 3-mile (round-trip) classic Heart of the Park, which includes the historic and poignant National Cemetery Overlook.

Park at the Presidio's Main Post (Anza Avenue), where the central lawn buzzes with locals picnicking and playing Spikeball while sailboats float in the bay. Follow Anza Avenue and Arguello Boulevard to Moraga Avenue and head left passing the tiny Chapel of Our Lady and the historic Inn at the Presidio. Walk ahead to the Ecology Trail, gently ascending the wide, forested trail to Inspiration Point Overlook. Next comes one of the most sublime sections of trail, a woodland that passes by the popular Spire installation by Andy Goldsworthy. It's beautiful when bathed in afternoon sunlight.

Around the bend you'll come to the National Cemetery Overlook, cradled in the backdrop majesty of the Golden Gate. The 28-acre San Francisco National Cemetery honors the American soldiers buried here, including over 400 Buffalo Soldiers, four all-black regiments in the United States Army. Buffalo Soldiers were also among the very first rangers to protect our treasured national parks prior to the creation of the National Park Service.

The overlook has an entrance into the cemetery; spend a little time there before returning to the trail and descending to McDowell Avenue and the multi-use Presidio Promenade, which leads back to the parking area.

Tip: The National Cemetery is wheelchair accessible via the Bay Area Ridge Trail, starting from Arguello Gate.

Download a Presidio Trail Map and follow the "Heart of the Park" loop hike. This hike is dog friendly, but dogs are not allowed within the San Francisco National Cemetery.

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