Twin Peaks,
San Francisco Parks and Recreation,
San Francisco County
In brief:
Under 1 mile easy hike to one of the city's best-loved viewpoints.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1/2 mile hike is easy. The two hills of Twin Peaks are easily navigated, with moderate but short ascents and descents.

Exposure
:
Totally exposed.

Trail traffic
:
Moderate.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt trails.

Hiking time
:
1/2 hour.

Season
:
Nice any time, although the views are obscured on foggy days.

Getting there
:
Twin Peaks is almost directly in the center of San Francisco. Consult a map to get there from your location, but here are directions from two central SF roads.
• From northbound Interstate 280 in San Francisco, exit San Jose. Stay in the right lane and make the first right on Rousseau (signed to Bosworth). Drive one block and take the first right onto Bosworth. Continue on Bosworth, crossing Diamond, and then Elk. Bosworth breaks off to the right and then ends, while O'Shaughnessy Boulevard takes its place heading uphill. Take O'Shaughnessy to the junction with Portola, at the top of the hill. Turn right, and immediately get into the left lane. Wait at the light, then turn left onto Twin Peaks. Drive uphill and park at the signed parking lot.
• From southbound Interstate 280 in San Francisco, exit Monterey. At the end of the ramp, make a sharp right onto Monterey. At the next light, turn left on Diamond. Drive one block, then turn left onto Bosworth. Continue on Bosworth, past Elk. Bosworth breaks off to the right and then ends, while O'Shaughnessy Boulevard takes its place heading uphill. Take O'Shaughnessy to the junction with Portola, at the top of the hill. Turn right, and immediately get into the left lane. Wait at the light, then turn left onto Twin Peaks. Drive uphill and park at the signed parking lot.
• From Market Street, drive southwest. Market turns into Portola; continue on Portola and at the second traffic light, turn right onto Twin Peaks. Drive uphill and park at the signed parking lot.

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead (pullout):
Latitude 3745'17.00"N
Longitude
12226'47.12"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phone, restaurant, and stores to the northeast on Market, or south near the junction of Portola and O'Shaughnessy. No camping here.

Trailhead details:
Small paved parking lot. No entrance or parking fees. There's a portable toilet, but no drinking water at the parking lot. There are designated handicapped parking spots in the parking lot, but the trail over the peaks is not wheelchair accessible.

Rules:
None posted. Dogs are permitted, and trails are used primarily by local runners, and visiting tourists.

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco and Vicinity map to get there.
Map from San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau



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These two hills towering over San Francisco, while not the highest peaks in town (Mount Davidson has that honor), are on every city visitor's short list of tourist sights. Steps to north peakJust follow the tour bus traffic to the viewpoint on Twin Peaks Boulevard, where passengers pile out of buses to admire the view. It is probably the best vista of San Francisco from inside the city limits, except during our foggy summer days, when visibility is nearly zero.
     Almost every casual guest who makes it out of the parking lot climbs the north hill and then calls it a day. The south peak is quieter, and is my choice location from which to watch the Blue Angels when they're in town. These airborne acrobats seem to use the south peak as a navigation beacon, and often fly right (and I mean right) over. On those rare occasions when snow falls in the Bay Area, head up to Twin Peaks the morning after the storm to assess accumulations on the tallest surrounding peaks. On a clear day, you'll have an excellent view of Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais.
     Although this is a short walk, and hardly a wilderness setting, there are a number of steep ascents and descents to navigate, adding up to a brief but decent workout. If you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of some of the redtail hawks who live nearby and regularly hunt the hillsides. DescendingThe only other wildlife is a collection of mostly nocturnal raccoons and skunks, many small birds, a small, very shy population of cottontail rabbits and some endangered Mission Blue butterflies.
     Start from the parking lot and cross the street to the north peak. The steps, lined with coyote brush, climb steeply, but soon reach the top of the North Peak. If it's windy, you won't want to linger, but on a calm day take a few minutes to soak in the 360° view: Mount Diablo, the east bay hills, Mission district, Bernal Hill, and Potrero Hill to the east, Mount Davidson, San Bruno Mountain, and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south, the Pacific Ocean and Farralon Islands to the west, and downtown San Francisco and Marin County to the north. A gigantic communications transmission tower looms to the north. The huge structure, known in my household as "the trident of doom," is an unwelcome presence to surrounding neighbors, who fear that the tower might topple in a severe earthquake. Climbing the south peakWhen ready, continue to the south, descending on the path. Carefully cross the road and start up the stairs of the south peak.
     Stay on the stairs, and off the hillside, to prevent further erosion. Some shrubby coyote brush cling to the red rocky dirt, where you might see buckwheat blooming in summer, as well as strawberry plants, yarrow, and lizardtail. After a quick climb, you'll reach the top of the south peak. Here you'll find more great views, and usually fewer people than North Peak. When ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: about 1/2 mile
Last hiked: Tuesday, June 19, 2001