Twin Peaks rises up from the center of San Francisco, and is the second-highest point in the City. Twin Peaks divides the City between north and south, catching the fog bank that rolls in from the Golden Gate and providing a habitat for lots of wild birds and insects, including the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly.
While you barely need to get out of your car to enjoy the stunning 360-degree views of the City from the peaks, the best way to enjoy the view is to take a hike. If you want to scale the less traveled South Peak, start at the pullout on the road below the parking lot.
You’ll climb a steep set of stairs up to the top of the South Peak in less than 0.2 mile. Stop and marvel at man’s industry: the communications tower that’s the massive eyesore just over the peak.
Carefully cross the road to access the red-rock stairway up to the North Peak. It’s only a 0.25 mile, but as with the South Peak, those stairs seem to go straight up! It’s worth it when you look out across the Golden Gate to Mount Tamalpais in the north and Mount Diablo in the east.
If it’s the view you’re seeking rather than the wildlife and exercise, head to Twin Peaks only on a sunny day. If the fog is in, as so often happens in the summertime, you’ll have trouble seeing five feet in front of you.
Oh, and don’t expect a verdant paradise up there — the grass doesn’t stay green long in the spring, so most visitors get to see the dried-out brush that characterizes much of the Bay Area in the summertime and fall.
To get there, drive west up Market Street (eventually turning into Portola Dr.), and turn right onto Twin Peaks Boulevard and past the parade of tour buses to the parking lot past the north peak. Parking is free and Twin Peaks is open year-round.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition