Anza Trail Blog

Presidio of San Francisco Unveils Anza Trail Improvements

by Julia Busiek, Media Relations Coordinator, Presidio Trust

Tagged as:   Historic Sites , Recreation Trail , San Francisco County , hiking

Anza Trail Ribbon Cutting, Jan. 15, 2014

The Presidio of San Francisco is a major landmark along the 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. It was here that many of the families of the 1775-76 Anza Expedition settled after the grueling, eight-month-long trip from Sonora, establishing the outpost that would grow into the city of San Francisco.

The Anza Trail in the Presidio (see on map) highlights California’s Spanish heritage and honors its pioneering spirit. Working under the Trails Forever initiative, the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service opened an improved span of the Anza Trail in the park this January. This trail’s completion underscores the importance of partnership and collaboration in keeping history alive along this centuries-old route.

Early settlers in Alta California contended with the elements, isolation, and the unknown. Today’s visitor to the Presidio encounters unmarked intersections, heavy traffic, and urban infrastructure. Presidio Trust Project Manager Amy Deck gathered input from planners, natural and cultural resources experts, neighbors, residents, and even passers-by, who shared concerns about traffic and a gap in the Presidio’s trail network in the area. The redesigned section of the Anza Trail in the Presidio lets visitors connect with the past, while traveling a safe route from a busy entrance gate up to a sweeping overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Deck’s team moved the trail away from the road where possible and installed speed bumps and a crosswalk at a blind intersection. The new trail section also guards the area’s natural resources: builders altered standard trail construction techniques to protect the sensitive roots of historic trees, and the trail prevents trampling damage by concentrating foot traffic in a durable corridor. The highlight feature is a solid-looking, curving wooden boardwalk and set of box steps that leads to the highest point on the trail.

Improvements to this trail were made possible by a lead challenge grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and by many donors who contributed match funds through Trails Forever for the revitalization of Presidio Trails, Bikeways and Overlooks.

Trails Forever brings together staff and volunteers from three partner organizations – National Park Service, Parks Conservancy, and Presidio Trust – to guide the construction and maintenance of a cohesive trail system throughout the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Since 2002, this team has built and maintained 125 miles of trail, and the work is far from finished. With the Anza Trail upgrade complete, planners at the Presidio are already making strides to complete a three-mile accessible loop around the western third of the park. The loop will ensure gentle slopes and a firm surface so that it can serve people with disabilities, as well as strollers. Once complete, the loop will provide visitors with access to the bay, ocean, forest, Golden Gate Bridge, and scenic overlooks.

The Anza Trail upgrade is a key link in the Presidio’s extensive trail network, and an important development here at the focal point of a significant 1,200 mile, trans-national route. Traveling in Anza’s footsteps through a forested, developed landscape that looks so different from the one encountered by the settlers is a surprisingly powerful experience. You can see the weight of centuries of human impact on the land, even as you cover the same ground and feel the same exhilaration that the earliest explorers felt while gazing across the Golden Gate.


A Section of Trail Under Construction
Prior to the Anza Trail improvements, pedestrians shared an undivided roadway with cars and bikes along Battery Caulfield Road. Photo by Amy Deck.

Trail Ribbon Cutting
Michael Boland, Presidio Trust Chief Planning, Projects, and Programs Manager (left), with Hale Sargent, Interpretive Specialist for the Anza Trail and Jose Roldan, interpretive ranger with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, showing off the new boardwalk on the redesigned section of the Anza Trail in the Presidio. Photo by Lindsay Sanders

Anza Trail Ribbon Cutting, Jan. 15, 2014
Amy Deck, Presidio Trust Project Manager, cuts the ribbon on site improvements to the Anza Trail in the Presidio of San Francisco. Photo by Lindsay Sanders

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