Glen Canyon Park,
San Francisco Parks and Recreation,
San Francisco County
In brief:
Under 1 mile hike through eucalypus forest and sunny canyon.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 0.9 mile hike is easy. Trailhead elevation is around 250 feet. Highest (reachable) elevation in the park is around 500 feet. There are a few steep stretches, but the trail is short. If you have a yen to bushwhack or rock climb, you can continue uphill past the end of the maintained trail, but beware of the extensive poison oak.

Exposure:
More shade than sun.

Trail traffic
:
Moderate.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt trails and paved fire road.

Hiking time
:
Less than 1 hour.

Season
:
Nice any time.

Getting there:
• From northbound interstate 280 in San Francisco, exit San Jose. Stay in the right lane and make the first right on Rousseau. Drive one block and take the first right onto Bosworth. Continue on Bosworth, crossing Diamond, and then Elk (where there's a traffic light; stay in the left lane to continue straight). Take the next right to remain on Bosworth (the road continuing uphill becomes O'Shaughnessy Boulevard). Park on the side of the road before the gate.
• From southbound interstate 280 in San Francisco, exit Monterey. At the end of the ramp, make a sharp right. At the next light, turn left on Diamond. Drive one block, then turn left onto Bosworth. Continue on Bosworth, past Elk (where there's a traffic light; stay in the left lane to continue straight). Take the next right to remain on Bosworth (the road continuing uphill becomes O'Shaughnessy Boulevard). Park on the side of the road before the gate.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/381

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3744'11.70"N
Longitude
12226'30.12"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Stores and restaurants nearby on Diamond and Chenery. Gas up on Portola. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Limited parking at the end of a street in a residential neighborhood; more parking on surrounding streets. Elk is usually a good choice. No entrance or parking fees. No facilities. The park is accessed by the number 44 bus (get off at Elk), and is short walk from the Glen Park BART station. No designated handicapped parking, and the trails are not well-suited to wheelchairs. Read about cautions for urban hikes here.

Rules:
Dogs permitted. No other rules are posted, but you won't find bicyclists or equestrians at this park.

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco and Vicinity map to get there.
Trails of the Coastside and Northern Peninsula (map) is a great guide (available from Pease Press).

View photos from Glen Canyon



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Tucked in a little canyon between residential neighborhoods, Glen Canyon Park is a small open space parcel, but a delight for local dogwalkers and nature enthusiasts. TrailheadRedtail hawks are frequently seen soaring above the park, and raccoon, skunk, and possum paw prints smudge the dirt. On my last visit, I spotted a northern alligator lizard basking in the sun. Although nonnative plants and poison oak are prominent, you also might see monkeyflowers and coyote brush. The biggest surprise (and most significant reason for keeping this canyon undeveloped) is Islais Creek, an actual stream running through the canyon. It may be the last naturally occurring, unobstructed creek in all of San Francisco.
     Most visitors walk to the park from surrounding neighborhoods. The other significant park access is from the back end of Christopher Playground, near the Safeway on Diamond Heights Boulevard. Near Islais CreekFrom herea trail descends steeply to the rock outcrop at the end of the trail, and another path bisects the hillside and heads east. The main Bosworth entrance is preferred, and easiest to find.
     Unless you're taking a leisurely walk with a dog, you won't find much here to keep your attention for more than a 1/2 hour or so. (Note: what really drew my attention on June 15 was a flock of goats munching vegetation near the rocks above the end of the trail. I stopped at the Safeway parking lot and snapped some photos of them as the sun set. See the photo to the right.) Two parallel trails and a road depart from Glen Park Recreation Center, and begin to climb out of the canyon on a dirt trail. This is classic "disturbed vegetation," with eucalyptus the dominant plant, and blackberry, broom, elderberry, andcotoneaster in the understory. Goats on the hill, taken from the hillside near Safeway on Diamond Heights A day camp building sits on the left; bear right on one of two bridges and then look for the start of the nature area on the left. A few sycamores and alders thrive near Islais Creek. After a few steps through a thick stand of willow, an elevated boardwalk crosses over the delicate terrain around the creek, where you might see curly dock, and the yellow blossoms of seep monkeyflower. Soon the trail splits (both rejoin at the top) and climbs steeply via some steps. At the top you'll be rewarded with nice views out of the canyon to the east. The scoreboard up the hill at the high school is visible. Wild mustard and radish bloom along California poppy and dudleya. A few coast live oak provide shade off to the side. Rock outcrops and poison oak block further access to the western portion of the park (the property runs all the way to Portola). You can try to scrambleup some rocks, but it really exceeds any standards for a hiking trail, and the poison oak is unavoidable. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.Creekside path
     UPDATE: It's now mid-June and for the last few days goats have been eating their way uphill west toward Portola. It's now possible to scramble up the rocks (at the end of the official trail) and continue west on a easy-to-follow, vegetation free trail. As of June 16, the goats blocked any further progress uphill, but you can loop back around on a narrow trail that follows along the creek. To find this path when you're travelling west, from the area around the day camp, cross the boardwalk, and where the trail splits, bear left. Just before the steps, continue straight on a narrow but obvious path. Willows, ferns, and blackberries shade the trail. There's even a pink-flowering currant bush. Where the trail narrows, look right for a path, then climb up into the grassland, make your way back down to rocky outcrop, and then down the steps and back to the trailhead.

Distance: 0.90 mile (or more)
Last hiked: Friday, June 8, 2001