But, as San Francisco State University geography Professor Max Kirkeberg
says, "It all depends on what you call a hill. ... There is room for honest,
intelligent people to come up with different numbers. The fact is, we have a
lot of hills."
John Martin, San Francisco's county surveyor, notes that most of the
city's hills are not specifically identified on maps. "I don't think there's
ever been a survey of the hills," he said.
Through research, plus my own observations as I've walked the streets,
alleys and hills of San Francisco, I have developed the following list of the
city's top 20 hills. The names, elevations and locations of each are included
below, so that you can check them out for yourself. The other 33 are listed in
descending order according to elevation on Page 24.
THE TOP 20 LIST
The 20 best hilltop views in the city are indicated on adjacent map.
Numbers correspond to list below.
1 Twin Peaks
South Peak (also known as Noe Peak): 922 feet. North Peak (Eureka Peak):
904 feet. Spanish called the peaks "Los Pechos de la Choca," or "the Breasts
of the Indian Maiden." Access trails: top of Twin Peaks Boulevard.
2 Mount Davidson
927 feet, highest hill in San Francisco. Originally named Blue Mountain.
Renamed after its surveyor, George Davidson. Identifying feature: 100-foot
concrete cross. Trail access: Rex Street and Juanita Way; also along Dalewood
3 Telegraph Hill
284 feet. Other names have included Loma Alta, Windmill Hill and Signal
Hill. Identifying feature: Coit Tower. Location: top of Telegraph Hill
Boulevard off Lombard and Kearny streets.)
4 Bernal Heights
500 feet. Identifying feature: radio antennae. Location: southern end of
Folsom Street, surrounded by and above Bernal Heights Boulevard.
5 Larsen Peak
666 feet. Location: Grand View Park. Trail access: stairs at top of
Moraga Street and 14th Avenue.
6 Corona Heights
510 feet. Location: above the Randall Museum. Trail access: Roosevelt Way
at Fairbanks Street.
7 Candlestick Hill
375 feet. Identifying feature: Bayview Park hill directly above Monster
Park stadium. Location: top of Key Street off Third Street.
8 Merced Heights
500 feet. Location: Peaks are located east to west at Summit and Thrift
streets, Shields Street and Orizaba Avenue, and Ramsell Street near Shields.
9 Mt. Mount Sutro
908 feet. Named after Adolph Sutro, mayor of San Francisco from 1894 to
1896. Access trail: end of Johnstone Drive off Clarendon Avenue.
10 Alamo Heights
225 feet. Identifying feature: Alamo Square Park. Location: bordered by
Fulton, Hayes, Scott and Steiner streets.
11 McLaren Ridge
525 feet. Three ridgetop locations: two hilltops west of John F. Shelley
Drive and hilltop south of Mansell Street near John F. Shelley loop.
12 Buena Vista Heights
575 feet. Identifying feature: Buena Vista Park. Trail access: Lyon and
Haight streets; Buena Vista Avenue. East at top of Duboce Street.
13 Hunter's Point Ridge
275 feet. Identifying feature: Hilltop Park. Location: Whitney Young
Circle at Progress Street.
14 Tank Hill
650 feet. Location: top of Tank Hill Park. Trail access: Twin Peaks
Boulevard at Graystone Terrace.
15 Pacific Heights
375 feet. Location: intersection of Lyon Street and Pacific Avenue.
16 Potrero Hill
300 feet. Identifying feature: blue water tower on top of rock
outcropping. Location: top of 22nd and Carolina streets.
17 Lincoln Heights
376 feet. Identifying feature: Palace of the Legion of Honor. Location:
hill south of the Legion of Honor off Legion of Honor Drive.
18 Billy Goat Hill
400 feet. Location: near Billy Goat Hill Park, at Castro and Duncan
19 Strawberry Hill
412 feet. Identifying feature: island-hill in the middle of Stow Lake.
Location: above Stow Lake Drive off Martin Luther King Drive.
20 Lone Mountain
448 feet. Identifying feature: monastic-looking building on the hill
northeast of St. Ignatius Church. Location: hill above intersection of Turk
Street and Chabot Terrace.
THE OTHER 32 HILLS, IN DESCENDING ORDER:
850 feet. Identifying feature: 977-foot Sutro Tower (highest point in San
Francisco). Location: off Clarendon Avenue, take Dellbrook Avenue to top of La
825 feet. Location: top of Robinhood Drive off Lansdale Drive.
775 feet. Identifying feature: summit water towers. Location: top of
Mendosa Avenue off 10th Avenue.
700 feet. Location: Top of Edgehill Way off Garcia Avenue.
Red Rock Hill
689 feet. One of the Diamond Heights hills. Location: off Diamond Heights
Boulevard, take Duncan Street to top of Red Rock Way.
Gold Mine Hill
679 feet. Also part of Diamond Heights. Location: off Diamond Heights
Boulevard, take Gold Mine Drive to top of Ora Way.
575 feet. Location: top of Fernwood Drive off Ravenwood Drive.
570 feet. Location: top of Mount Olympus Park, on Upper Terrace off
407 feet. Location: 22nd and Collingwood streets.
400 feet. Location: Sanchez between 21st and Hill streets; 21st between
Noe and Sanchez streets.
378 feet. Also known as Holladay's Hill. Identifying feature: Lafayette
Square Park. Location: bordered by Washington, Sacramento, Laguna and Gough
376 feet. Location: top of Jones and Sacramento streets.
375 feet. Location: above Yukon Street near 19th Street.
374 feet. Location: east of Washington Boulevard, between Compton Road
and Central Magazine Road, above Rob Hill Campground.
370 feet. Identifying feature: lookout tower near Presidio Golf Course.
Location: top of Deems Road off Washington Boulevard.
City College Hill
350 feet. Identifying feature: domed Science Building on top of the hill.
Location: top of Science Circle on east side of Phelan Avenue, between Ocean
and Judson avenues (across from the reservoir).
350 feet. Formerly a cemetery for early pioneers. Location: top of hill
on Lupine Avenue east of Laurel Street.
Anza Vista Hill
325 feet. Location: top of Barcelona Avenue between Anzavista and Terra
315 feet. Identifying feature: blue water tower. Trail access: at
Mansfield and Burrows streets.
300 feet. Location: top of Vallejo above Florence Street St. (Russian
Hill's other ridge top is located in Marble Park on hill surrounded by
Greenwich, Hyde, Larkin and Lombard streets.)
275 feet. Location: on Washington Street, between Cherry and Spruce
274 feet. Identifying feature: Holly Park. Location: above Holly Park
Circle, off Appleton Avenue.
265 feet. Location: top of Cambridge Street near Burrows Street.
260 feet. Identifying feature: Washington High School. Location: top of
Anza Street between Geary Boulevard and Balboa Street.
Mount St. Joseph
250 feet. Location: small corner-lot park at top of Bayview Circle off
216 feet. Location: top of Dolores Street at Jersey Street.
200 feet. Identifying feature: St. Mary's Cathedral. Location: top of
Geary Boulevard between Cleary and Gough streets.
200 feet. Location: bounded by Mission Street, St. Mary's Avenue, San
Jose Avenue and Richland Avenue.
200 feet. Identifying feature: Sutro Heights Park, across from the Cliff
House, above the Great Highway. Location: bordered by 48th Avenue, Point Lobos
Avenue and the Great Highway.
150 feet. Identifying feature: U.S. Mint building. Location: above Duboce
Street, between Buchanan and Webster streets.
100 feet. Identifying feature: western end of the San Francisco Bay
Bridge. Location: top of Rincon Street off Bryant Street; top of First Street
off Harrison Street.
Originally listed at 250 feet, but all that's left is a nub of bedrock
about 30 feet high. Location: inside PG&E; yard at corner of Illinois and 22nd
This article appeared on page PK - 23 of the San Francisco Chronicle