Routes with a View

The View from Bernal Heights

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Twice a month we share some of our favorite destinations in the city and the Muni routes and lines that will take you there.

The View from Bernal Heights

The view looking north from Bernal Hill. Photo taken Sept. 15, 2015.

Precita Park

The newly renovated Precita Park is a popular spot for Bernal Heights locals. Photo taken Sept. 15, 2015.

Just south of San Francisco's Mission District lies Bernal Heights, known for its open parkland and it's mini-microwave radio tower perched atop rocky Bernal Heights Summit. It's an often overlooked getaway and a great place to bring the kids and the family dog for a romp through Bernal Hill Park, a designated "off-leash" park. Precita Park and Holly Park provide grassy play areas for children and adults to the north and south of the hill, respectively.  A collection of restaurants and cafes at the bottom of the northern slope center around the newly renovated Precita Park, a popular destination for young families. 

Did you Know?

  • Bernal Heights, also known as "Nanny Goat Hill," was originally part of  Rancho Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo, and owes its name to Jose Cornelio de Bernal, to whom the land was granted in 1839 by the Mexican government.
  • In the 1860s the rancho was subdivided into small lots, and was first populated primarily by Irish immigrants who farmed the land and ran dairy ranches. 
  • During the Vietnam War, the neighborhood was known as "Red Hill" for the anti-war activists in shared households and collectives who moved in among the working-class families.
  • Bernal Heights is host to Fiesta on the Hill, one of the last street fairs of the summer festival season, which takes place on the third Sunday in October. The family-oriented event includes attractions such as a petting zoo and donkey rides. Make a plan to stop by next weekend.
  • The microwave tower perched atop Bernal Hill is known as "Sutrito Tower" a nod to its bigger cousin, Sutro Tower, which sits downhill from it.
  • The grassland on the hilltop is home to a remarkable urban ecosystem, that includes raccoonsopossumsskunks, a variety of raptors (including American kestrelsred-tailed hawksCooper's hawkssharp-shinned hawks and great horned owls).
  • Bernal Heights is also known for its unusually steep streets. Bradford Street, just north of Tompkins, allegedly has a 41 percent grade and is heralded by locals as the steepest in the world. It has yet to be graded by Guinness World Records

How to get there

Muni Routes

While the 67 Bernal Heights is the most direct route through the neighborhood, the 14 Mission and 49 Van Ness/Mission will take you within a couple of blocks of Holly Park, and the 12 Folsom-Pacific and 27 Bryant take you to Cesar Chavez Street, a short walk to Precita Park.