Edgehill Mountain is mostly developed, but a small urban forest remains on the south side. Originally part of Adolph Sutro’s San Miguel Ranch, the Edgehill Mountain land was sold following his death in 1898. It became one of the city’s first subdivisions, known as Claremont Court. Houses were built on the mountain’s western and southern slopes. The first major erosion problems began in 1952-53, when winter rains sent part of Edgehill Way and one home sliding down the mountain. Edgehill Mountain Park was established in 1985, when the city purchased one acre of the mountain’s undeveloped western slope. In 1997, a slope above newly constructed homes collapsed during a rainstorm, cascading mud and rock onto the houses below and sending an unmistakable warning that the mountain’s steep slopes could not survive the environmental destruction generated by further residential development.
To protect the park, the community, represented by the Greater West Portal Neighborhood Association, formed the Edgehill Mountain Open Space Committee (EMOSC) with the goal of acquiring seven lots adjacent to the park. From this effort to protect the park, the Friends of Edgehill Mountain was founded and continues to work to preserve the park’s native flora and fauna today. Volunteers have contributed many thousands of hours of work on monthly workdays, helping to improve trails, eliminate non-native invasive plants, and plant indigenous plants. EMOSC also works with local schools and youth organizations to involve young people in learning about and protecting the environment. At nearby Herbert Hoover Middle School and West Portal Elementary School, students in science and ecology classes have used the park as an environmental laboratory, and Boy Scouts have helped with the restoration project as part of earning their Eagle Scout badges in community leadership.
On their first trip to Edgehill Mountain, visitors are often surprised to find this oasis of natural beauty in the middle of the city. The wooded hillside presents a stunning view of Mount Davidson, the Sunset District, and the Pacific Ocean. Red-tailed hawks hunt in the area and nest in its pine trees. EMOSC’s Joan Kingery said, “We want to preserve this unique spot in the center of the city for residents who enjoy the peace and charm of its setting, now and in the future.”