In addition to unique features and photo-worthy examples of flora and fauna, follow the winding dirt trails to reach the summit at Bernal Heights Park. It is here that you will find one of the best places to enjoy 360-degree panorama views of San Francisco sights – including the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, San Bruno Mountain, and gorgeous hills in the distance. Situated in a family-oriented neighborhood, Bernal Heights Park is also home to red-tailed hawks, playground fun, off-leash park space for canines, and other distinctive sights that give this park character.
BERNAL HEIGHTS PARK ATTRACTIONS
Trees, benches, picnic tables, rocky terrain, dirt trails, and green spaces round out some of the physical features of Bernal Heights Park. Just past the playground, check out the happenings at the Bernal Heights Recreation Center, where a gym accommodates energetic toddlers and youths with programs that include basketball, dance, and other active pursuits. In the springtime, wildflowers burst onto the scene. The park also provides opportunities to do a little planting of your own. Some of the most popular attractions and features of the park are listed below:
Bernal Heights Playground: With a mixture of sand, rubber mat surfaces, blacktop, as well as colorful, plastic and metal play structures, the fenced-in playground at Bernal Heights Park is situated on Cortland Ave at Moultrie Street. Situated by the play area are two picnic tables, which you can reserve through the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. One is 8-feet long, while the other measures three feet. While children run about the play area, parents usually swap stories and tips over coffee. Situated just below the playground, pick-up games usually take place at the basketball court area and the Bernal Heights Recreation Center provides a range of activities throughout the year.
Bernal Heights Recreation Center: If you live or have lived on the Hill as a child, chances are that the blacktop at the neighborhood center is where you first learned how to pedal a bike. Renovations to the clubhouse and gym provide a variety of afterschool and Tiny Tot programs for youngsters. Open Gym hours for everyone is a favorite amongst locals. The Recreation Center also hosts winter break camps and afterschool programs that involve indoor soccer clinics, homework assistance, arts and crafts, and special seasonal activities.
Bernal Heights Community Garden: The park is home to one of the 35+ community gardens that the Recreation and Park Department manages and supports across San Francisco. Here, members are allowed to grow fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants for their personal use. In order to cover expenses related to the upkeep of the garden plots, membership fees are often self-imposed. The Bernal Heights Community Garden is found at 559 Bernal Heights Blvd, and has a total of 20 garden plots. SFRPD shares information on the garden’s waitlist and other details here.
Rock Labyrinth: Ideal for picture-taking or simply taking an imaginative stroll, Bernal Heights Park offers a labyrinth as you make your way up the hill. When compared to the rock labyrinth at Lands End, it is smaller and made of gravel, yet still a sight to see during a visit.
Bernal Heights Park Trail: Providing a 1-mile loop trail filled with scenic views, the Bernal Heights Park Trail accommodates walkers, joggers and runners of all skill levels. Accessible year-round, this is a pathway often used by dog owners.
THINGS to DO at BERNAL HEIGHTS PARK
The sweeping views of San Francisco come courtesy to Bernal Heights Park’s hillside terrain. With thriving grassland features, an abundance of wildlife, and plenty of walking trails to explore, it’s hard to believe that Bernal Heights Park was once just your average rock quarry. Today, the spacious, natural getaway and all of its delightful, recreational features allow visitors to enjoy some of the following activities:
Take the Dog for a Run or Hike: Acres upon acres of ‘off-leash’ parkland is set aside for the dogs, which is notably frequented by a wide range of dog breeds and their owners. Bernal Heights Park is one of the largest parks in San Francisco, and provides many opportunities to exercise. The most active canines will enjoy veering from the paved path to explore a network of dirt trails crisscrossing the hill.
Sign Up for a Program: The Bernal Heights Park Recreation Center offers a variety of afterschool and Tiny Tot programs. Encourage your child to expand his or her horizons, such as learning how to cook, spending time at the computer lab, getting fit with dance or exercise, playing basketball, taking a karate class, or practicing a kick flip on a new skateboard.
Seek Out the ‘Painted Rock’: A unique attraction at Bernal Heights Park is a large, painted rock that gets a makeover every so often, whether it’s Christmas trees, an ode to the Warriors basketball team, or a solid color, like teal. One of the more mischievous creations was an ultra-popular swirl of a smiling poop emoji.
Watch Fireworks: Because of the expansive view of the city, it’s no wonder that Bernal Heights Park becomes crowded when Fourth of July rolls around.
Shoot Some Hoops: One full basketball court is located at Bernal Heights Park, which operates on a first come, first serve basis.
Bring Out the Binoculars: The natural habitat of Bernal Heights Park gives way to California poppies and other wildflower displays that bring a diverse assortment of native creatures to the area. Bernal Hill is home to over 40 species of birds – from dark-eyed juncos to western meadowlarks – that come to feast on the seeds, berries and other edibles found at the park.
Take the Kids Raptor-Sighting: In-between playground adventures and making new friends, consider introducing your child(ren) to the larger-winged creatures that pay Bernal Heights Park a visit, such as great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and American kestrels.
BERNAL HEIGHTS PARK ANNUAL EVENTS
Outside of the personal meet-ups and small affairs that locals organize, annual and ongoing events and activities are fairly scarce at Bernal Heights Park. One of the only constants that take place at the park involves monthly maintenance and restoration projects, such as:
Bernal Hill Grassland Restoration Volunteer Project: If you’d like to give back to your community, join the volunteers who gather at the South gate on Bernal Heights Blvd past Anderson (which is also the location of the only water fountain at Bernal Heights Park). Here, you will take part in rejuvenating the trail system, planting native species, and pulling invasive weeds. Refreshments are provided. Registration for this event can be completed by emailing [email protected].
BERNAL HEIGHTS PARK WEDDINGS
Depending on your wedding day expectations, there is a way to plan the exchange of vows at Bernal Heights Park. While you are able to reserve picnic tables at the park, professionals are more than willing to help you make arrangements to have a wedding at Bernal Heights Park. Use the form below to request a free quote.
BERNAL HEIGHTS PARK IS LOCATED CLOSE TO…
Located directly behind the Bernal Heights Branch Library (500 Cortland Ave.), parents not only flock to the Bernal Heights Park Playground with their kids for energetic play, but to also feed their minds with the likes of Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, and Shel Silverstein. Out of the library’s exit, you can make a beeline straight out to the playground. Keep in mind that the library opens at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Bernal Heights Boulevard, which circles the hill top of the area offers a one-mile long stretch of asphalt and hard-packed sand that locals use for walks and runs. Closed to vehicle traffic, it is here that the San Francisco Illegal Soapbox Society’s annual derby also takes place.
In the southeast corner of Bernal Heights, another tourist attraction to consider is Bernal Heights Summit, which features open parkland and a radio tower atop the large rocky hill. Here, you will find the open-air Alemany Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, which is known as the oldest existing farmers market in the United States. On Sundays, a flea market thrives.
Looking for another favorite place to visit in the Bernal Heights neighborhood? Known as the ‘Esmeralda Street Slides’ or ‘Winfield Street Slides,’ the longest pair of outdoor slides in San Francisco is part of the Bernal Heights Mini Park. They are tucked away just a couple blocks away at Winfield and Esmeralda Streets. You might be surprised at the steepness of the slides, which provide 40 feet of fun that also have a reputation of scraping the skin of plenty of visitors.
Bernal Heights Park Information
Bernal Heights Park Location: Bernal Heights Blvd
GPS Location: Latitude: 37.7430988 Longitude: -122.4140468
Bernal Heights Park Hours: 5 a.m. to Midnight
Bernal Heights Park Parking: Street parking.
Public Transportation for Bernal Heights Park: Muni: #24 Divisadero, Cortland & Ellsworth stop; #67 Bernal Heights, Ripley & Folsom stop
Bernal Heights Park Facility Contact: (415) 695-5007