Views of Downtown
Esmeralda Steps and slide
Difficult hills and stairs
This urban hike winds its way over hills and stairs on Bernal Heights, a charming low-key neighborhood at the southern end of the Mission. You'll encounter numerous garden staircases and a warren of narrow streets that zig-zag around the hill. The streets sometimes seem almost rustic, recalling a San Francisco from long ago.
Printable Map (pdf file)
Start at intersection of Cesar Chavez and Mission Streets. The #49 Van Ness bus and #14 Mission bus both go there.
Facing south where Mission Street angles off 45 degrees to the right, walk 1 block down Mission.
Left on Precita Street and walk 1 block.
-----Coso Square is a triangular green lined with Victorian homes.
Cross Coso Street and turn right to walk along the far side of the square.
Sharp left on Mirabel Avenue at end of square.
Right on Shotwell Street where Mirabel ends and walk 2 blocks.
Right at Aztec Street sign and ascend the Aztec Steps.
Continue along Aztec Street 1 block until it ends at Coso Avenue and Winfield Street.
Cross Coso Avenue and veer left down Winfield Street 2 blocks.
Left on Virginia Avenue, ascending the sidewalk steps which raise you above street level.
Sharp left at next intersection (Elsie Street) and follow narrow sidewalk behind houses 1 block.
When you emerge, make a sharp right and walk back down Elsie 1.5 blocks.
Right on Eugenia Street and walk 1 block.
Eugenia Community Garden
-----Residents grow vegetables and herbs in terraces along the stairs.
Proceed straight and descend Eugenia Garden Steps.
Left on Prospect Avenue at bottom of stairs and walk 1 block.
Prospect Community Garden
-----Grape arbors arch over this stepped path beside vegetable and herb plots.
Proceed straight and ascend Prospect Garden Steps.
Left at Santa Marina Street and walk 1 block.
Left at Elsie Street and walk 1 block.
Right at Cortland Avenue, the neighborhood main street, and walk about a dozen blocks.
Left at Nevada Street and walk 1 block.
Cross Powhattan Avenue and veer right on Bernal Heights Blvd. about 2 blocks.
Right on Esmeralda Avenue (NOT the street that drops down the hill on your right) and walk 1 block.
Right at unmarked set of stairs and descend to Franconia/Brewster Streets.
Left on Brewster Street and walk about 1 block.
-----Beautifully landscaped stairs and landings meander down the hillside, with cottages on your left.
Turn right and descend the Joy Steps.
Left at bottom of stairs on Holladay Avenue and walk 3 blocks, passing Faith Street.
Faith is a dead-end street
-----Some urban planner had a sense of humor. This small street rises half a block and abruptly ends. As you pass, be sure to look back at the street sign.
After Costa Street, turn left and climb Rutledge Steps.
-----This set of tree-shaded stairs rises 2 blocks.
At top of second block, turn left on Brewster and walk 1 block.
As you reach Costa Street, cross Brewster to the hillside garden on your right.
Climb the sidewalk steps part way, then turn left into the garden.
Costa Community Garden
-----Residents grow vegetables and herbs in this large patch of land on the hillside.
Follow the path through the levels of the garden, then take the stairs at the far right end.
Right at the top of the stairs and walk a few paces to the intersection.
Toward your left across the street will be a set of stairs.
Descend the Franconia Steps, part of which is a dirt trail.
Cross Montcalm Street, descend the steps and continue down Franconia 1 block.
Right on Mullen Street and ascend sidewalk stairs to a bluff.
Park and Peralta Steps
-----This undeveloped little park has a bench and great views toward downtown. Starting here, Peralta Avenue is broken up into chunks by the hillside, connected by stairs over the course of 3 blocks.
Take the path through the park, which turns to the left, and climb the steps at the end of the path.
Cross Montcalm and proceed up Peralta Avenue (a rather humble half block with grand ambitions).
At dead-end, ascend the stairs.
Cross Rutledge Street and ascend more stairs.
Youll emerge at the intersection of Samoset, Peralta and Ripley Streets.
Continue straight on Peralta 1 block.
Right on Esmeralda Avenue and walk 1 block (you may notice youve passed by here before).
Veer left on Bernal Heights Blvd., heading uphill 1 block (several intersecting streets head downhill).
Left on Carver Street then immediate right on Mayflower Street (looks more like a country road).
This unmaintained road passes beneath eucalyptus trees then curves downhill.
At intersection cross Chapman Street and descend Nevada Steps over on your left.
Right at bottom of stairs on Powhattan Avenue and walk 4 blocks.
Cross Gates Street, ascend wooden steps and path, then continue 3 more blocks on Powhattan.
Right on Andover.
Where street dead ends, take the path over to your left that winds through a cactus garden.
Keep to the path as it follows the fences behind the homes for about 2 blocks until it ends at stairs.
-----This enchanting trio of stairs along Esmeralda starts in a wooded glen next to a large vegetable garden and descends past gardens and playgrounds.
Descend the Esmeralda Steps.
Proceed straight on Esmeralda Street 1 block.
Descend the second set of stairs or, if youre feeling playful, take the twin slide.
Continue ahead on Esmeralda 1 block.
Descend the third set of stairs.
At the bottom, across Coleridge Street to your right, is a mini-park/playground perched on a hilside.
Right on ColeridgeStreet and walk 3 blocks back to Coso Square.
Left on Precita, then left on Mission and walk 1 block back to your starting point.