Mt Sutro Hike by Tony Holiday

Tony Holiday, a San Francisco hiker and blogger, recently hiked Mt Sutro from the Stanyan steps to the summit and back down to Parnassus. (Go to his blog, Stairways are Heaven, for more hikes and photographs.) This photo-essay is one of our Park Visitor series – first-person accounts of visits to our San Francisco Natural Areas and wild lands. It’s abridged (and published with permission) from the original post,  Stanyan Trailhead to Summit, on Stairways Are Heaven. (We’ve made some minor edits to the captions to clarify them for those unfamiliar with the forest.)

Started off this very pleasant Mount Sutro hike first uphilling from Parnassus  to Stanyan & 17th for the trail head of the lower Historic Trail…

Trailhead with steps up to Sutro Forest from Stanyan

Entrance to the “lower Historic Trail,” which starts in the Interior Green Belt – city-owned property that comes under the Natural Areas Program of SF Rec & Parks.

Interior Greenbelt’s lower Historic Trail

Continuing on the Lower Historic Trail in Mount Sutro Forest

At some point, the trail crosses from the Interior Green Belt into UCSF’s “Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve.”

… then from the lower Historic Trail, up to Medical Center Way, crossing over to the East Ridge Trail …

Medical Center Way, the paved road that runs through the forest and connects the Aldea Student Housing with Parnassus

…  and up to the summit (where I saw this flower).

Flower on the summit of Mt Sutro

Going down from the summit I went down the North Ridge Trail.

Starting down from the summit on the North Ridge Trail

North Ridge Trail, nearly down to Medical Center Way

I’ve used this convenient short stairway many times from Medical Center Way to the parking lot so as to descend the wood-railed stairway to its foot, then out to Parnassus. (But you can easily just walk downhill to the lot too.)

Shortcut stairway down to parking lot

There are around 136 steps from the parking lot down to Medical Center Way behind the hospital buildings.

Steps down from Parking Lot

Stairway overlooking UCSF buildings

Stairway connecting parking lot and UCSF

Stairway seen from the bottom (with acacia trees that that form the subcanopy of the forest)

You’ll probably see medical personnel ascending and descending this stairway, but it’s okay for hikers to use also. I’ve been doing so for years.


Tony Holiday likes meandering around on San Francisco’s park trails and public stairways, sometimes taking photos, and enjoying nature and the outdoors.

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