Billy Goat Hill has long provided a mighty scenic reward for in-the-know adventurers willing to do the legwork required to reach its summit. Now, with the opening of Beacon Trail, the trek to the top just got easier.
Sitting high between Noe Valley, Glen Park, and Diamond Heights, this labor-of-love hike was, until recently, an exercise in impromptu bushwhacking and makeshift yard work. But thanks to San Francisco Recreation and Parks, which has invested nearly $150,000 to clear the site's invasive plants and brambles and to lay a series of compacted dirt trails and box steps connecting Walter Haas Playground to Billy Goat Hill, you no longer have to pave your own way Indiana Jones-style.
Opened on July 22, new Beacon trail is dotted with various lookout spots along its 160-foot course, with the ultimate prize being the sweeping views of downtown, the Bay Bridge, and Holly Park in Bernal Heights. It's a great Sunday morning workout, but be sure to to wear the right shoes—you'll pass some serious runners, families with hardy kids, and dog-walkers cutting their way through the eucalyptus trees and indigenous plants that grow along the hillside. Due to the geography of Billy Goat Hill, we shy away from recommending this dirt path to anyone who struggles with climbing stairs, and big luck to any parents who dares take their kid in a stroller. Beacon Trail is surprisingly steep in places, and your calves will definitely second the notion.
The area was once known for the unsanctioned but exhilarating rope swing that was removed by Rec and Parks during the renovation. But the kestrels, swift birds of prey who use the area to hunt for rodents and smaller birds, remain. Pack a pair of binoculars (and maybe a bird guide) along with your water bottle.
Parking's a bit of a toss up. But Drake did say it best, "We started from the bottom./ Now we're here." 30th Street will be the easiest to park alongside, while Beacon Street (located at the top of the hill next to Walter Haas Park) is more spacious but an absolute pain to get to during heavy traffic hours. Muni's 35 bus will take you along Diamond Street to Walter Haas, or you can simply ride your bike.
So, go ahead, take in those Instagram-worthy Bay views, and find time to take a deep breath alongside the treescape. You'll surely be coming back for more. // 30th and Castro Streets (Glen Park), sfrecpark.org