Mount Sutro

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mount Sutro
Mount Sutro Summit.JPG
Eucalyptus trees cover much of Mount Sutro, as seen from the summit.
Elevation 911 ft (278 m) NAVD 88[1]
Prominence 208 ft (63 m)[1]
Listing San Francisco Hill
Location San Francisco, California, U.S.
Coordinates 37°45′30″N 122°27′26″W / 37.7582636°N 122.4571935°W / 37.7582636; -122.4571935Coordinates: 37°45′30″N 122°27′26″W / 37.7582636°N 122.4571935°W / 37.7582636; -122.4571935[2]
Easiest route Hike, Paved Road

Mount Sutro is a hill in San Francisco, California. Most of Mount Sutro remains private property owned by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), but a 61-acre (25 ha) parcel, including the summit, has been set aside as the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve and is open to the public. It is one of San Francisco's 47 hills, and one of its original "Seven Hills". Sutro Tower, a large television and radio broadcasting tower for the San Francisco Bay Area, does not stand on Mount Sutro, but on a lower hill between it and Twin Peaks.

Sutro Forest[edit]

Mount Sutro is covered by a dense forest, about 80% eucalyptus trees, planted in the late 19th century. The trees are now over 100 feet (30 m) tall. The mountain is within San Francisco's fog belt, receiving fog all through the summer. The tall trees precipitate the fog. This moisture is absorbed by the undergrowth and duff so the forest remains damp through the summer months. It receives some 30 to 40% of its moisture in this fashion. There is a dense understory of blackberry and other plants. The forest is habitat for a number of bird species including Great Horned Owls and various woodpeckers. Over thirty species were recorded in one morning of birding.[3]

The UCSF-owned portion of the forest, 61 acres (25 ha), is contiguous with a 19-acre (7.7 ha) city-owned area of eucalyptus forest called the Interior Green Belt. The forest is bounded on the north by the UCSF Medical Center and the stem-cell research building; on the south, by the Forest Knolls neighborhood, built in the late 1950s on land carved from the forest; and on the east by Cole Valley and related neighborhoods.

At the summit is Rotary Meadow, a garden of native plants. It was funded by a $100,000 grant from the Rotary Club and its members in 2004. The garden is irrigated by UCSF, and maintained by dedicated volunteers. It is accessible by paved road from Clarendon Avenue through UCSF's Aldea San Miguel housing complex. (Cars are not generally permitted beyond the campus.) The garden, which is at its best in the spring, provides views of the forest, but has no view of the city as do nearby Twin Peaks and Tank Hill.

The forest is accessible by hiking trails,[4][5] many of which are suitable for mountain bikes. Another access to the summit is Warren Drive from 7th Avenue on the west side of the mountain, climbing the 355-step public stairway from Warren Drive to Crestmont Drive (known as Oakhurst Way on the map), turning left at the top and entering the forest where Crestmont makes a sharp right.


Much of today's Mount Sutro was part of a large tract of ranch land, a Mexican Land Grant - given originally to Jose de Jesus Noe in 1846 - officially called Rancho San Miguel. The property was acquired by Adolph Sutro shortly after he was bought out of his Comstock Lode stock by his "partners" (the so-called Silver Big 4) in 1879.

The newly gotten cash enabled Sutro to invest in San Francisco real estate on a grand scale, and at one time he owned almost 10% of San Francisco's acreage. Sutro used annual Arbor Day celebrations to plant trees (eventually thousands of them) on the relatively bare slopes, hollows or sand dunes of his properties.

Sutro named one of his planned developments "Mount Parnassus". This area was eventually renamed in honor of Sutro who was the 24th mayor of San Francisco and whose property this once was. Sutro originally planned to develop residential neighborhoods on this hill and another to the east which he named Mount Olympus.

In July 1895, Sutro donated a 13-acre (5.3 ha) site on the "Parnassus bench" overlooking Golden Gate Park, to serve as a campus site for the Affiliated Colleges of the University of California – now the University of California, San Francisco. Unfortunately, Adolph Sutro died land rich and cash poor in 1898 and, as a result, the settlement of his estate was long and arduous. Some plans of the Sutro Development Company – which operated a street railway to serve Sutro's development properties – were revised and others were stalled for years.

Though planned as a recreational forest, some parts of the forest were logged by Sutro's heirs. In 1934, after a fire, this effort was discontinued. The forest was logged once again during the rationing days of Second World War for use as domestic fuel.

With the settlement of the estate, after almost twenty years of litigation, much of the real estate that was Sutro's forest legacy began to be cleared – beginning about 1930, and ending by 1970 – as the city expanded westward and the land was put to urban uses.

Most of the forest standing today was purchased by the University of California in the early 1950s. In 2009, UCSF applied for a grant from FEMA to fell a majority of the trees on 23% of its acreage, in the name of fire safety. However, some locals suspected that its main impetus was from a group of native plant supporters who wished to remove the non-native eucalyptus in favor of native plants.

[6] There was opposition to plan by local residents. In February 2010, UCSF announced it was withdrawing its application to FEMA, and would instead conduct a full Environmental Impact Review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before proceeding with plans to convert the ecology of the forest.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mount Sutro, California". Retrieved 2009-02-26. 
  2. ^ "Mount Sutro". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  3. ^ "A Forest Full of Birds". Save Mount Sutro Forest. 2010-03-29. 
  4. ^ "Hiking in Mount Sutro Forest - Pointers and Map". Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  5. ^ "Trail Map of UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve". Mount Sutro Stewards and the University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  6. ^ Begin, Brent (August 9, 2009). "Residents fight to keep Sutro Forest trees". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 

External links[edit]