Singletrack Tour of … San Francisco !!

I heard from Lisa Luzzi that there was a group of people building a network of singletrack trails in

San Francisco. I just had to see what this was all about, and I arranged to get a grand tour with

the two main forces in this project, Dan Schneider and Craig Dawson.

We started in the sunset district on 17th Avenue.

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5 minutes from the trail head

After a quick ride on some un-crowded city streets, Dan took us up Mount Davidson on a trail

originally constructed by the WPA in the 1930's, now maintained by the City and a local

stewardship program. It is a classic singletrack climb that could be in any rural coastal area.

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Going up Mt. Davidson

Craig explained that back in the 1800s the San Miguel Range (the central hills of San Francisco),

including Mt. Davidson, Mt. Sutro and Twin Peaks, was a valuable watershed for the growing

community of San Francisco (several miles away at that time). Both Craig and Dan were full of

stories about the history of the area and especially the history of the trails.

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Dan telling trail building stories to Lisa

Up at the top of Mt. Davidson, we got some sweeping views of the city below from this 38 acre

open space.

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Top of Mt. Davidson

On the way down, the singletrack trail provided great views and some mild technical


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Singletracking down Mt. Davidson

Once down the mountain, we connected to mount Sutro via a short hop on urban streets. We

could have taken the country-ish Twin Peaks Road, but due to high winds we took the Laguna

Honda cutoff into the neighborhood on Panorama Drive.

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Singletrack connector trail

On Mt. Sutro, we were treated to the fruits of thousands of hours of trail labor. Dan and Craig

have been organizing trail work parties on the first Saturday of every month, with up to 50

volunteers. Amazingly, they have forged partnerships with every group that uses the open space,

from bird watchers, hikers, and dog walkers to environmentalists and neighbors. Moreover, they

have obtained permission from the landowners (University of California), and these trails are


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Fruits of labor

These areas were once completely overgrown with blackberries, ivy, and poison oak. There is

now a network of narrow trails which will remind you of the Tamarancho loop in Marin county.

What used to be an impossibly steep and muddy trail on the eastern slopes has been

transformed into a series of beautifully designed switchbacks which can be ridden in either


Some of the trails were still works in progress and we had the honor of being some of the first to

ride them.

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Wall built in the 1800s to support trail

At the summit of Mt. Sutro there is a beautiful three acre native plant garden which occupies a

former Nike missile radar site. The San Francisco Rotary club mobilized a diverse community of

volunteers, including mountain bikers, and spent $100,000 to accomplish this. The goodwill

towards mountain bikers was clearly evident as we passed happy hikers with big smiles (and big


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Lorna loving a trail that received from “love” from Dan, Craig, and crew.

By the time we descended Mt. Sutro and worked our way back to Dan’s house on city streets, we

had ridden almost 3 hours, mostly on singletrack. During the ride we passed many a trail that

Dan said we could try next time. If we had ridden the entire network and added some riding in

Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, we could have put together an all-day epic ride without ever

leaving the City! Dan and Craig have several realignment projects and one reclamation project in

progress that would add a mile to the current Mount Sutro trail network.

Thank you Dan and Craig for this awesome tour of your trail treasures!

For more information on the trails and how you can volunteer to help, please contact:

Dan Schneider -

Craig Dawson -