Trail Run Through Mount Sutro to Twin Peaks
Distance: ~3.2 to 4.5 miles depending on route
Elevation gain: ~500’
Route overview: Edgewood > Historic > Gardeners > Meadow > East Ridge > Twin Peaks > Fairy Gates > Historic
Start at Edgewood Trailhead
Enter Mount Sutro Open Space via the Interior Greenbelt at the Edgewood Trailhead at the south end of Edgewood Ave. Enjoying the peace of Woodland Canyon, the birds chirping, and the flowering plum trees in spring.
In a little under a quarter mile, the intersection with the Historic Trail is great spot to take in the view down the canyon and be grateful for the habitat crew’s work in this center of the watershed. During spring and summer, you’ll see the lush green of cow parsnip, red elderberry, pink flowering currant, elk clover, fringecup, Douglas iris, ferns, and many more native plants.
Right on Historic Trail
From the intersection, take a right up the Historic Trail (part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail route through San Francisco!) and shortly after cross Medical Center Way to continue the long swoop of trail up and around the mountain. It’s a steady but gradual climb with views through the eucalyptus of Golden Gate Park, the Sunset & Richmond neighborhoods, the Marin Headlands, and occasional peek-a-boo views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Historic Trail was named such because it is a restored historic trail route from the early 1900s or prior. On the downhill side of the trail, there are 100-year-old drywalls! In early morning, enjoy the glow of the sun pouring through the trees from the east, or in the evening the warm sunset light pouring through the eucalyptus from the west over the Pacific Ocean.
Left on South Ridge & Gardeners Trail
The Historic Trail will come to a multi-spoke junction on the south side of the mountain after about three-quarters of a mile from Woodland Canyon. From this junction, take a left up the South Ridge Trail and then an immediate left again onto the Gardeners Trail. This is a special treat doubling back above Historic Trail and is narrow and rocky, so watch your step!
Right on West Ridge Trail then Left on Nike Road
After just under a quarter mile on the Gardeners Trail, it will end at the West Ridge Trail. Take a right here and shortly after a left when the trail opens up at the Nike Road. Switch to cement for just a few paces up to Rotary Meadow. Now is a great time to ease up and enjoy the flora. In spring and summer, the open meadow is the perfect place to see wildflowers and pollinators (in the winter it’s pretty dormant and brown). There’s also a map at the kiosk to the left to check your progress.
Continue Down East Ridge Trail
Follow the gravel trail straight through the meadow area up to the summit at 909’, and then continue on the East Ridge Trail. This quarter mile of trail has a fine switchback flow - time to stretch out the legs!
* Note, the upper half of the East Ridge Trail is temporarily closed. Alternative route from the map kiosk at Rotary Meadow: Take a left at the kiosk towards the North Ridge Trail. After the first turn on the North Ridge Trail, take the Mystery Trail on the right (look out for cool wood carvings!). The Mystery Trail connects with the open lower half of the East Ridge Trail after 0.1 mi for the last switchback of the East Ridge Trail down to Johnstone Dr.
Left on Johnstone Dr & Continue to Twin Peaks
Exiting the trail at the Aldea Housing complex on Johnstone Dr, take a left and run down Johnstone Dr, out of the housing complex to Clarendon Ave and then over to Twin Peaks!
Option 1 (beware of no crosswalk across Clarendon Ave at Dellbrook Ave; cross at own risk): carefully cross Clarendon to Dellbrook (Sutro Stewards is working with the City to create a crosswalk here).
If you cross to Dellbrook Ave, curve left onto La Avanzada St and then take a left onto Palo Alto Ave prior to the Sutro Tower gate. Take a right onto Marview Way and take the trail shortly after on the left by the Twin Peaks Reservoir up to Twin Peaks Blvd and up to Twin Peaks! Make your way to Christmas Tree Point (the overlook at the north peak) to see the city waking up. It is never the same morning up there – never – whether it’s the fog alignment, the color of the sky, the calm, whatever.
From Clarendon Ave & Dellbrook Ave, it is about half a mile to Christmas Tree Point.
Option 2 (Alternative and safer crossing route): take a left on Clarendon to Twin Peaks Blvd. Take a right on Twin Peaks Blvd and follow it up to Twin Peaks and Christmas Tree Point.
From Clarendon Ave & Johnstone Dr, it is just under a mile to Christmas Tree Point.
Return to Mount Sutro; take Fairy Gates Trail back into Canyon
Return to Johnstone Dr at Mount Sutro via the reverse route. On Johnstone Dr, pass in front of the Chancellor’s House and take a slight right onto Fairy Gates Trail. If you reach Medical Center Way you have gone too far and missed the entrance to Fairy Gates Trail; it is a few steps into the driveway of the Chancellor’s House on your right and to the left of the gate under the trees.
At the Fairy Gate (the narrow walkway cut into the rock), pay attention to your footwork as you approach and navigate the rock outcropping; find a good pace as you cross the hill.
Right at Y
After about 0.1 mi, take a right at the Y to continue down the Fairy Gates Trail and drop back into Woodland Canyon. Look out for another wood carving of the statue that looks over the canyon, and appreciate the passage of time as you run through a downed tree that fell last winter during a storm. Sutro Stewards steadily incorporated the tree into the trail with a small notch to better allow bike and foot passage.
Right at Historic Trail
After the short and steep jaunt downhill, you’ll reach the junction in the canyon again. This time, take a right on the Historic Trail. It’s time for speed! Enjoy the gradual downhill run out of the Interior Greenbelt, keeping an eye on the rocky bits and pass along a smile and hearty good morning to all those who are coming up for their moment in the Reserve!
End at 17th and Stanyan St, a few blocks from where you started on the Edgewood Trail. Congratulate yourself on a run well done, or keep going up to Tank Hill or over to Golden Gate Park if you have the energy!