"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Fog coming over San Bruno Mountain at sunny Candlestick Point
How many people know there are beaches in southeastern San Francisco? Candlestick Point State Park has 252 acres with not only beaches, but trails, more picnic sites than you can shake a stick at, meadows, piers, and is as relaxing and beautiful as any park situated next to a great blue body of water. It’s such a cool place that you might consider it a necessary destination. 

Windsurfers use the park as a starting point for their forays into the chop, fishermen cast reels from the pier, families have picnics and barbeques, people walk dogs on leash, and bicyclists can cruise for miles. 
Photo by pier Kathryn Rodriguez
 I like to park at the main lot off of Hunter’s Point Expressway, or at the Last Port lot on Harney Way. A trail leads between the two lots.

Percussion! Pic by K. Rodriguez
Each area is great to explore—find Hermit’s Cove, Windharp Hill, Sunrise Point, and an awesome set of permanently installed metal percussion instruments that kids can bang their hearts out on.

If you want to barbecue, it seems like there are dozens of sites to choose from. Almost every picnic area has a view of rippling water, a wind wall, grills, water spigot, garbage cans, a picnic table, and bathrooms within a short walk.
This park probably has more animals than the average park in the city, hands down, because of the Bay, the proximity to large natural spaces such as Bayview Hill and San Bruno Mountain, and that this was/is marshland, which has a high amount of biodiversity. 
Cormorant; pic by K. Rodriguez

This park is also part of the Pacific Flyway, a major route for migrating birds during certain times of the year. Regular residents include crows, ravens, hawks, brown pelicans, seagulls, terns, egrets, and cormorants. Ground squirrels, skunks, and jackrabbits also consider this their home.

 Much of the flora isn’t native because it was planted on landfill, but you’ll find trees like coast live oak and buckeye, bushes like ceanothus and coyote brush, and the ubiquitous invasive edibles, wild radish and wild mustard. Candlestick Point has officially been a park since the late 1970s, but many of the plants look older.
Pic by K. Rodriguez
Come soon. On a recent walk, two park rangers said, “Our schedule is literally month to month.” Despite decreased funding that has left the park understaffed and the parking lot closed on Thursday and Friday, bathrooms are open every day. And how do we keep our state parks from shutting down?!?

Kids on the beach at Candlestick Point

I'll say it---the reputation of this park and the Bayview neighborhood is ill deserved these days. It's crazy that so many maps in San Francisco cut off--literally omit--the southeastern portion of the city (the de Young Museum map in the observation tower, for instance). It's racist, unfair, and unjustifiable.

This is not directed at you, dear reader, it is just my rant now.

In my experience growing up in San Francisco, and now raising a kid here, acts of violence have been random and happen anywhere. Walking in the cities should be done with open eyes. Stay safe wherever you are by bringing a friend, your cell phone, and not living in a vacuum. Say hi to people you pass and help break down the damn stereotypes; they are so tiresome.   

View Larger Map

High and low tide are quite different, and low tide is pretty stinky, so plan your picnic, birthday party, or hike accordingly! You won’t find tidepools here during lowtide, but mudflats that smell gassy and fishy. 

Candlestick Point State Park Brochure (and best trail map) http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/519/files/CandlestickPt.pdf

Pacific Flyway info (for bird-lovers)

Tide Schedule (high tide recommended)