April Visit to Beautiful Sutro Forest

“I would love to see Sutro forest,” said the out-of-town visitor. “I’ve heard so much about it!”

So when the welcome rain cleared into welcome sunshine, we headed up the new trail at the Pumphouse on Christopher Drive.

It doesn’t provide the immediate immersion of the old 101 Christopher trail, where within 10 feet the houses were hidden and you were wholly among the trees. But gradually we left behind the houses and the dormitories and found ourselves in the forest.


Trail conditions were good – damp to wet, but not slushy. Good for walking, and pretty good for mountain-biking. The rain has left everything lush and green once more, and the forest was utterly beautiful.

Despite the thinning and the tree-felling, nature is resurgent.

The trails were picture-book pretty.

We found a few others out on the trail, though it was a weekday morning  – joggers, people with dogs, a very few hikers like us. Also enjoying the forest: Mountain bikers. As usual, they were courteous and considerate.

Though we’ve heard stories otherwise, we ourselves have only had one encounter with a rude bicyclist – and that was five years ago.


It wasn’t just the trees, though they were of course the main event: It was the whole forest ecosystem.  All round us, the understory was bursting with life. Little patches of flowers – forget-me-nots, Roberts geraniums, Douglas iris – added specks of color to the myriad shades of green.



This thistle’s leaves had such dramatic markings that it demanded a photograph.

We found a profusion of Miners Lettuce, and on some slopes, nasturtiums. We collected a few handfuls for a salad.

There were a lot of birds, flying and calling. But the only ones that sat still for a picture was this Mourning Dove…

… and this robin.


Most of the forest is still reasonably secluded, giving it the feeling of being in a different world outside the houses and urban buzz. But there are areas where it’s now quite thin and you can see the city below: The Inner Sunset District, and the green band of Golden Gate Park.

If you love this wild forest, with its ecological novelty and plants from all over the world, now is the time to make your memories and take your photographs. If things go according to UCSF’s plan, tree-cutting and massive understory removal could start this August.





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