The Lyon Steps| San Francisco Staircase #2
Tassels flapping in the breeze, wind on my face, map in my basket, tires fully pumped, I took my freshly cleaned bike from the Richmond District, where I live, down California Street, turned left on Presidio and went to the top of the Lyon Street Steps. And I must say; this is not the way to do it! Even if you were an Olympic athlete, this is NOT the route to take; or at very least, take a car. This small, affluent neighborhood, where housing prices soar into the multi-millions–(the average being 15 mill), and neighbors like Robin Williams, Danielle Steele and Dianne Feinstein walk the streets, is known as Presidio Heights. She has well earned the Heights part of her name as I huffed and puffed, struggling to push my bike up her several hills.
Once I arrived, I sprawled out at the top of the steps,trying to keep my heart firmly encased in my chest cavity. After those hills, the Lyon Street steps, located in the Marina/Cow Hollow District, didn’t look too menacing. I was to learn (again), don’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case a staircase by its steps.
I began at the intersection of Lyon and Pacific Street(s), the elevation is 379 feet, with stunning views of The Palace of Fine Arts and the hills of Marin. With less than 300 steps, the sensation directly following your awe at the spectacular scenery, is one of vertigo. 379 foot elevation, 288 steps–do the math. (The other entry point is at Green Street, at a pleasant cul de sac under shade trees.)
The nice thing about the steps is that they are even, concrete, well maintained, and broken up into four (very steep) sections with little cul de sacs, gardens and ‘rest‘ places. On the other side of the coin, these steps are a prime exercise destination taken over by power walking grannies and sweating exercise fiends. I went during the week, so the steps were pretty empty, but, I can imagine that on the weekends, they are packed. These would be like the Santa Monica Stairs or the Thousand Steps in Laguna Beach, both awesome workout spots.
Approximately halfway down (or up) the steps, there is a lovely garden and one of the many ‘hearts of San Francisco‘. This is a really great program started in 2004, as a fundraiser for San Francisco General Hospital. Each year, heart sculptures are painted and installed throughout the city, Union Square, Golden Gate Park, Moscone Center, SFO, etc… At years end, they are auctioned off and the project begins anew. This heart, is called the Migrant Heart, and was designed by Hung Liu in 2004.
These are great steps for sights and exercise. Due to their steepness, I would rate them at a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10. But then again, I don’t like to sweat; I like to meander–so, it really is a matter of perspective.