Beyond Glen Canyon Park’s recreation center, ball field, and tennis courts lies a large urban canyon that has incredible spring wildflower displays, dramatic rock (chert) formations, and Islais Creek, one of the few remaining free-flowing creeks in San Francisco. This 60 acres of wilderness, formerly referred to as the San Miguel Hills, not only provides critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife but serves as a relaxing sanctuary from the city’s urban bustle. An extensive network of hiking trails leads through a variety of habitats.
Glen Canyon Trails
An extensive 3.7 mile trail network leads through a variety of habitats, from the lush creekside vegetation to the rocky grass- and scrublands of the canyon’s steep eastern slope, where a profusion of wildflowers blooms each spring. The 1.2 mile Creek to Peaks trail starts along Islais Creek and rises up towards Twin Peaks, where sweeping views of San Francisco and the Bay can be enjoyed.
Islais Creek supports a diverse streamside ecosystem of willow trees, horsetails, seep monkey flower, and red columbine. These plants provide habitat for adult and larval insects, which in turn feed amphibians, reptiles, and birds, some of which travel from as far away as South America.
The north-south road through the canyon is home to a grassland community. During summer and early fall the land is parched and golden brown, and native grasses drop their seeds awaiting the winter rains. By February the hills transform to a verdant green and by spring a variety of native wildflowers, including the California poppy, blue-eyed grass, checkerbloom, and mule’s ears add oranges, blues, pinks, and yellows to the canyon.
Farther north along the road, a dense coastal scrub community of coyote brush, coastal sage, bee plant, and California blackberry intermingle to provide habitat for a wide array of ground-nesting and shrub-loving birds. Coyote brush alone provides habitat for more than 250 species of insects, which in turn are a critical food source for birds and reptiles. California blackberry wind their way around the coyote brush, bearing fruit for birds, raccoons, and humans throughout the summer. Bee plant is aptly named, attracting not only bumblebees and honeybees, but more than 20 species of non-stinging solitary bees.
Most of the forest at Glen Canyon Park is composed of blue gum eucalyptus, cypress, and pine trees planted in the beginning the 19th century and has significant value for both wildlife and people. Owls and hawks rely on them for nesting and hunting, and human residents appreciate the respite of the urban forest.
Glen Park Recreation Center
Creeks to Peaks Trail
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