The first time I went to San Francisco, while scouring the guide for slightly less mainstream attractions, I read a small chapter on Twin Peaks and I immediately thought of the famous David Lynch TV series. Naively I thought I had found the town where the mysteries surrounding the death of Laura Palmer take place, but there was something wrong: as you can read in our article dedicated to the locations of Twin Peaks, the series was shot in the outskirts of Seattle and Los Angeles. So what are the Twin Peaks in San Francisco? What are the reasons why it is worth going to this place? How to get there?
- What is Twin Peaks
- How to get to Twin Peaks
- To see
- Trails available
- Mount Sutro
- Neighborhoods and attractions to visit nearby
- Where to sleep to visit Twin Peaks
What is Twin Peaks
As the name implies, the Twin Peaks are two twin peaks located very close to the geographic center of San Francisco, not far from the Castro district, in an area where they are located the highest hills of the city. The two peaks, known by the names of Eureka e Noe, are at a distance of just 200 meters from each other and have a height of 280 mt, 1 meter more than Mount Sutro and 2 meters less than the Mount davidson, the highest hill in the city, located a couple of miles to the south.
Twin Peaks is also the name of the residential district located on the slopes of the hill: along the streets that lead to the top of the hills there are quiet modern colored houses in rows.
How to get to Twin Peaks
There are two ways to get to the Twin Peaks of San Francisco.
- By car: if for some reason you have already rented your car in San Francisco, just set this destination on your navigator, which is the parking lot at the top of the hill. Starting from the Civic Center, we take the intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue as a central reference point: the distance is about 20 minutes traffic permitting. After driving south-west along Market St and Portola Drive for about 4km, you will need to turn into Twin Peaks Boulevard, following the green signs.
- By public transport: maybe it will take a little longer, but it is very likely that it will be a forced choice for you, especially if - as we have often advised - you do not use a car to visit San Francisco. In this case, therefore, you will have to take the line 37 Corbett dei bus Muni and get off at the stop Burnett Ave & Crestline Dr (ID 13712). You will find yourself practically on the slopes of Twin Peaks, you just need to climb a little to get to the top. The line covers the Haight-Ashbury district and also has a few stops on the south side of Market St, at the intersection with Church St and 14th St.
If you have made it to the top of Twin Peaks, all you have to do is enjoy the view. The privileged place to observe the whole city is the Christmas Tree Point, the viewpoint immediately adjacent to the main car park, just below the hill to the north. From here, fog permitting, you can see the city's large skyscrapers and much of the San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge (albeit a little shielded by Golden Gate Park).
If you are greedy for panoramic views, you can too climb to the top of the two hills: all you have to do is turn your back to Christmas Tree Point, cross the road and climb the steps of the hill to the north. Afterwards, you can do the same by reaching the hill to the south, from which you can also see the southern side of the city, including nearby Mount Davidson. There is also a small car park on the saddle between the hills (coordinates): stop here by car if you want to avoid the more popular main viewpoint.
I recommend, dress appropriately because even in summer Twin Peaks are windy!
Being an urbanized hill, there are no paths other than those connecting the various observation points. However, from here starts an urban circular path that leads to another very close hill: the Mount Sutro.
While the Twin Peaks offer bare ground, the Mount Sutro – formerly known as Mount Parnassus - is covered by a dense eucalyptus forest, planted in the late XNUMXth century and fed by the typical San Francisco fog, which keeps the microsystem moist. This feature makes Mount Sutro a pleasant oasis in the chaos of the city, where it is possible to walk in the shade of beautiful vegetation ready to offer an ideal habitat for various species of birds.
Most of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve it is owned by the University of California (UCSF), which allows you to visit it for free along a handful of trails. Among these is precisely the Twin Peaks and Mount Sutro Loop, an 8.2 km long hike that allows you to climb both hills with a single walk.
If you start the loop from the Twin Peaks car park, you will have to descend from one of the two hills (according to your itinerary) and take a path (not very well marked) that also passes through the green spaces adjacent to the streets of the neighborhood, before climbing the Mount Sutro via theHistoric Trail, which is the only Mount Sutro trail that can offer some panoramic glimpses among the trees. Since it is not easy to follow this loop, I recommend that you use this useful map.
The Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve also offers other excursion possibilities: for example the Fairy Gates Trail, short and simple path in the shade of the eucalyptus trees that crosses some suggestive rocky outcrops and gives the opportunity to observe a splendid flora.
Neighborhoods and attractions to visit nearby
If you want to organize a half day to discover this side of San Francisco so little frequented by tourists, you could combine the excursion to the Twin Peaks e a Mount Sutro with the visit of Castro e Haight-Ashbury, two eclectic neighborhoods with a lively and engaging spirit. Also, a few miles to the northwest, you will find another huge green area in San Francisco: the Golden Gate Park.
Where to sleep to visit Twin Peaks
The Twin Peaks area is not particularly touristy, so you will find it very few accommodations. Also, being a bit far from the main points of interest in San Francisco, it is not very strategic. My advice is to take a cue from the suggestions you find in our article dedicated to San Francisco accommodations, and to organize the Twin Peaks panoramic excursion by public transport or by car starting from the most served areas.
Our tips on where to sleep in San Francisco