1-2-3 Things — Hike the Goldsworthy Loop in the Presidio

Hello Adventurers!

Did you get out and see the Tilden Carousel or any other wonderful holiday sights? We actually didn't manage to go to Tilden, but had some other wonderful days prepping for the New Year. 

For many, New Years resolutions means trying to become more fit or healthy, or to start better habits. So with that in mind, we are going to spend January waking or hiking some wonderful spots, continuing this through the year wherever I can fit it in. 

This week we find ourselves in San Francisco's Presidio for the Goldsworthy Loop. Andy Goldsworthy is a resident artist for the Presidio who uses found objects in the natural habitat of the Presidio to create large scale installations. There are four of them so far: the Spire, the Wood Line, Earth Wall, and Tree Fall (Tree Fall is only accessible on weekends when volunteers can open it up). 

Andy Goldsworthy is quite a remarkable artist. Not only are his pieces breathtaking, but they make for some wonderful photo opportunities with the kids. Below I'll talk about some of his pieces in a bit more detail, but if your are curious to learn more, go have a look at this PDF (and print the map on the last page as that's our walk today). 


The hike itself is just over 3 miles with a climb of about 35 floors according to my Fitbit. A fair amount of the trail is dirt path of different grades. If there has been some rain, you will find some muddy spots. Also many dog owners will walk their dogs off leash, so it's a good idea to review with your kids how to approach a dog (http://petcyclopedia.com/blog/how-to-approach-a-dog-safely/). 

Also let us know if you go, we would love to hear about your trip. Simply reply to this e-mail. And please feel free to forward this to a friend. 

Chief Happiness Officer at kiddiewalks.com
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1-2-3 Things — Hike the Goldsworthy Loop in the Presidio 

Quick inspiration for a day out with the kids around the SF Bay Area

From kiddiewalks.com

  1. Presidio Main Post

  2. Hike the Goldsworthy Loop 

  3. Julius Kahn Playground 


Presidio Main Post


The Hike is a loop, but I think this is probably the best and easiest spot to start your hike. The all day parking fee is $7. You should find a spot easily, unless there is some event going on. You should probably park near the  old munitions magazine (housing the Tree Fall installation) and the Presidio Officers club as two of our stops are really close to here. 

The Presidio Officers Club is a lovely place to stop, and they have free admission. Not only can they answer questions about the Goldsworthy loop (and even provide you with a free map if they have them in stock), but suggest many other activities that might be going on that day. The also have a wonderful drop in art studio offering different crafts every weekend. The historic exhibits about the presidio are quite interesting, and Moraga hall can be a nice place to take a break and warm up by a fire (there is also WiFi). This is also a good bathroom stop. The Arguello Restaurant run by chef Traci Des Jardins is a good spot for a snack too.  

Hike the Goldsworthy Loop


There are 4 installations on the Goldsworthy Loop: the Spire, Wood Line, Earth Wall, and Tree Fall. Earth Wall and Tree Fall are both on the Main Post not far away from each other, the Spire is up by the golf course parking lot, and the Wood Line is just steps away from Lovers Lane. These are all wonderful pieces to see sparking a sense of wonder and amazement, and they also make for some wonderful photo opportunities. 

A foggy day might seem like a bummer for a hike, but the light is nice and even for photos, and if you can catch the golden hour, the light that peaks through the trees is wonderful. 

Tree Fall (usually open on weekends)

Located inside an old munitions magazine mid parking lot away from most of the other buildings you will see some volunteers hanging around (if it's open) the entrance. In my experience they have been quite friendly and full of great information, so strike up a conversation. If there are no volunteers and the weather is decent, the outer door will likely be open and you can still peek inside. 

As you enter the narrow passageway, look up. Try to imagine how they got that giant branch through that little door. The artist built a substructure inside the building as to not damage any part of the historic building, and everything had to come in through the tiny entrance. Once they created the substructure and got the branch installed, they caked the branch and ceiling with a muddy compound that cracked when it dried creating a really cool pattern and texture. We have fun looking for the heart shape (ask one of the volunteers if you can’t find it) and trying to find other shapes created by chance. 

Taking photos in here can be a bit tricky as its a really close space. Having a wide angle or fisheye lens can help quite a lot if you want to get a selfie with your loved ones. Otherwise try and wait till your the only visitor inside and squeeze in nice and close. The ambient light is usually enough to take a decent picture with.

Earth Wall

Located directly behind the Arguello restaurant’s patio, or from the museum it’s just outside of the bathrooms, this installations was created to look like a found object discovered by some archeologist. He found branches from all over the Presidio, wove them into a ball and placed it in the center of a dirt filled block which he then rammed down to compress the whole thing. Once that was set he then excavated the ball to reveal it like it was some found treasure. This exhibit you can pretty much walk up and touch it, but please be respectful as it is art and we should treat it as such. 

When it’s a sunny day you can get some pretty extreme shadows here, but when it’s overcast or foggy it gets a bit easier. There is some nice potential for fun shots here, a prop like a magnify glass or a brush might make for a whimsical shot. 

Inspiration Point

This isn’t a Goldsworthy installation, but it’s a nice stop to stop and enjoy a little packed lunch while enjoying the view of the bay and your surroundings. There are a couple of benches, and the PresidiGo shuttle makes a stop in the parking lot here. 

The Spire

Built with logs that were removed from the Doyle Drive upgrades, the Spire was Goldsworthy’s first installation. It’s one of these things you may have seen poking out of the tree line while driving by, but probably never went in for a closer look.

To get up to the base of it, you have to venture off the trail a little. Also be careful crossing Arguello Blvd, I would suggest using the crosswalk adjacent to the golf course parking lot. After you cross toward the golf course parking area, you will see a sign for the trailhead just off to the right, and from there it’s a short walk. There is a large pile of logs that every kid likes to climb on just outside of the installation

The Wood Line

This is one of those installations you could so easily miss if you weren't looking for it. You could literally be strolling down Lovers Lane (which runs directly beside it) and not even know it's there. But walk over a few steps east from the top of Lovers Lane and look down the hill. There on the ground you will find the Wood Line. A serpentine path of found logs, snaking it's way down the hill under cover of trees. 

This was the first of Goldsworthy's pieces I was introduced to. It's a lovely stroll on its own, not to mention quite a wonderful photo opportunity. Kids love to walk down the logs (although do be careful, the leaves can get really slippery) and if you have a softly lit day the light distilling through the canopy above created quite the setting. 

Julius Kahn Playground

You'll find this playground at the midpoint of the hike, and it's quite a favorite with locals. The play structures are a lot of fun and encourage group activities for both older and younger kids. There are a number of benches, water fountains, and an acceptable bathroom attaches to the rec center. Plus the view isn't shabby being able to see the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge poking out. 


  • The Walt Disney Museum is on the Main Post, there is no entrance fee to go to the cafe or gift shop and isn’t a bad spot to stop to warm up a bit. 
  • The weather can fluctuate quite a bit, be sure to dress in layers. 
  • The Yoda fountain is only a short walk from the end of the hike, and there is a Starbucks nearby if you need to recharge. 

Feeling Adventurous 

  • The bowling alley not far adjacent to the Officers Club can be a fun way to spend a bit of time. 
  • The House of Air is a short drive from here along with Planet Granite if you feel like doing a bit of rock climbing.