Sunset's hidden stairways
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Jessie Brennan

The Hidden Stairways of the Sunset

In San Francisco, we’re lucky to have so many outdoor options within such a big city. In the Sunset alone, we have Golden Gate Park’s trails to wander and open fields to frolic in. And we can’t forget the soothing waves of Ocean Beach. But one gem that may not be quite so obvious in the Sunset is its hidden stairways. Walking the district in search of these unique stairs is a favorite for my husband and me!

We first learned about this fun urban walk through Greenbelt Alliance’s Outings Program. Outing leaders Jim and Ceci Kim showed us the path that not only leads to stairways but also includes incredible views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge.

The stairway search is about a 3-mile walk, and as you can imagine, there is some climbing involved. I suggest a starting off with a nice coffee for your journey or bringing a light picnic for when you reach a certain outlook point (revealed later). You can make this urban outing a leisurely stroll through San Francisco’s Sunset District, or you can up the pace to get a good workout in. Whatever the speed and intention you choose to set, searching for stairways is a fun way to get out and explore one of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods.

We start our stairway search on 16th and Moraga. You won’t have to look for long before you see a magical mosaic of stairs climbing up the hill to 15th Avenue. These are the Moraga Stairs. Over 220 Sunset residents funded this project. The tiles that make up this 163 step stairway are handmade Take in a moment here before you climb to appreciate the artistic elements of the animal mosaic that make up these exquisite steps.

Once you reach the top of the Moraga Stairs, continue right on 15th until you reach the next stairway, which you’ll find on the left (if you reach Ortega you’ve gone too far). Climb these stairs up to 14th. At the top, keep right and look for the aerial stairs to your left and ascend to Funston. Once you reach Funston, turn left at the intersection of Funston and Pacheco. Take another left to descend the Cascade Stairway down to Ortega.

From here, head to Grand View Park. This is where that picnic I mentioned earlier comes in. Grand View Park is a great spot to enjoy lunch while taking in incredible views of the city. It’s also fairly secluded here, allowing for time to relax and taking a moment to reflect and breathe.

Here ends our journey in search of the Sunset’s hidden stairways.

Starting Point: 16th Avenue & Moraga, San Francisco, CA

Things to Note:

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