John McLaren Park; San Francisco: Streetcar to Subduction

Geology in the City?

This hike is based on Clyde Wahrhaftig's book, A Streetcar to Subduction and Other Plate Tectonic Trips by Public Transportation in SF (PDF now available online!). We'll explore John McClaren Park in San Francisco's Excelsior District. In keeping with the spirit of the book, we'll start our hike on Geneva Ave, which is well serviced by MUNI (and only a short bus ride from Balboa Park BART station). Dr. Wahrhaftig was a professor at UC Berkeley who never owned or drove a car (quite a task for a geologist!). If you have the book, look on pages 32-33 for details of our hike (see the link above).

Here's our 201 version of this hike.

Here's a Google map showing the hike route. This route is follows the landmarks that Dr. Wahrhaftig points to in his book (we'll miss the first one, since a private housing development has replace the old bowling alley and parking lot). On the way back, our route will take us by the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, for a little cultural history.

The rocks: We should be able to see amphibolite; basalt; chert; gabbro; melange matrix; meta-sandstone; silica-carbonate rock; schist; sandstone

The Nitty-gritty:

Distance: about five to six miles (the route I l.aid out in Google maps says it's 2.4 miles out, so I'd round up a bit; the return trip is a bit shorter).

Hills: While we're not mountain climbing, there are some steep stretches in the park.

Pace: Moderate. We seem to average about 2 MPH, including short stops (but not counting lunch).

Sustenance: Bring water and lunch. We'll stop for lunch about half-way through the hike.

Time: We seem to average about 2 MPH, so we should finish in about three to four hours. Times vary with the pace of each hikes attendees.

Lunch: There's no place to buy food in the park, so bring a lunch and we'll have a short lunch break about noon.

Dogs: Sorry, but I've had too many bad experiences, so dogs are not welcome.

Group size: We usually get 15-30 people, although usually twice that number of RSFPs. Please remember to change your RSVP if your plans change.

Start time: The first 15 minutes is usually an orientation to the geology of California and the local area, then we head off at about 10:15.

Public Transit:

From Balboa Park BART, catch the 8X bus (eastbound). Get off at either Geneva and Moscow (and continue walking DOWN Geneva), or Geneva and Stoneridge Lane (and walk back UP the Geneva). The bus seems to run about every eight minutes, and takes about 12 minutes. If you get the 9:47 from BART, you'll get to the park about 10:00, so you might try for the 9:39 

Special deal: In honor of Dr. Wahrhaftig, who never owned a car, if you come by public transit you don't have to pay the $1 contribution.


There is street parking on Geneva, and a parking lot that may or may not be full of soccer players. Google Maps puts the address 1575 Geneva right about at the entrance to the parking lot, which is where we'll meet.


If you'd like to carpool, please mention in the comment section below whether you are looking for a ride or can offer one (and your location).

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  • Howard

    Great hike, educational too. Thanks Lee!

    1 · April 6, 2014

  • Cheryl M.

    I'm still recovering from a bike accident with many broken bones and am wimping out of hikes for a hit, otherwise I would have attended many of your great opportunities.

    March 15, 2014

    • Lee T.

      Hi Cheryl, best wishes for your recovery :-) Hope to see you soon.

      1 · March 15, 2014

    • Cheryl M.

      Thanks Lee, I hope so

      March 15, 2014

  • Adam R.

    Sounds like fun. I'm looking forward to it.

    1 · March 6, 2014

Your organizer's refund policy for John McLaren Park; San Francisco: Streetcar to Subduction

Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

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