Wednesday, August 24, 2011

City Life: Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park

Stow Lake is a donut shaped man-made lake. It's located up the hill from the Japanese Tea Garden. Strawberry Hill is a small island in the center.

I spent some time there last Saturday. It was cold and quiet. Usually the boathouse is open and there are plenty of people in paddle boats and row boats but the day I was there, no one was on the water.

Stow Lake is a lovely little walk. You can walk all the way around the lake, cross the footbridges, and walk up the hill. I used to bring my dog here. I live about five blocks from this section of Golden Gate Park.

The photos highlight one of the realities of San Francisco: its cold, foggy summers. I'll never understand why people don't check the weather before they travel somewhere. San Francisco is located in the Sunshine state, it's true, but our overcast, cold summers are legendary. Not to say there aren't any nice, sunny days in the summer but they are few and far between and tend to be cool and breezy. As soon as you leave the City, however, and cross a bridge or go just a bit south, you leave the fog behind and temperature is in the 70s and 80s.

The best time to visit San Francisco is in the Fall. It's the warmest, loveliest time of year, usually (check the weather first!)

As I mentioned Stow Lake is located behind the Japanese Tea Garden. This is a picture of the front entrance of the Tea Garden just to give you some orientation.

This is the back exit of the Tea Garden and...

...directly behind the tea garden exit are these stairs. Take the stairs up to Stow Lake.

Ah yes, an idyllic scene. The quiet was nice but I have to say I missed seeing folks on the lake attempting to get their paddle boats to move faster. And watching people in a row boat on the lake is a nice romantic image. You can see the Peace Pavilion on the far right.

You know, I'm pretty good at identifying birds, water fowl in particular, but I can't find anything that tells me what this goose-like bird is. Either way, he's particularly splendid (I'm assuming it's a he because of the lovely plumage and red around his face).

If I'd been thinking about it, I would have brought my sketchbook and done some drawings. I'll have to go back there with my notepad soon. I also saw a Canada Goose, the usual assortment of Mallards, and a Red-eared Slider Turtle. The lake has quite of few formerly domestic turtles that have been "set free" by owners who don't want them anymore. There's also Koi in the lake. I wasn't looking very hard but there are plenty of other animals around here.

I made my way along the footpath and crossed the first footbridge I found. I went directly to the man-made waterfall. There was a fashion photo shoot going on.

The lovely couple. I love how her yellow dress provided a "pop" of color for the gray day.

The waterfall.

There's a staircase along side the waterfall. It's a nice climb.

A shot of the fashion photo shoot from above.

A view from the top of the waterfall.
As you can see, there are places to stop and sit on the way up.

The top of the Hill. There's a view but it's partly obscured by trees.

The view from Strawberry Hill looking west.
That's the Pacific Ocean and our legendary fog rolling in.

A pop of color from the various flowers planted around the top of the Hill.

There were a few people here and there. Locals with their dogs, solitary folks who regularly walk the hill as part of their day-to-day routine, tourists, and young couples. There are appeared to be quite a few young couples on getting-to-know-you dates. Having them around gave the atmosphere a kind of sweetness. It was rather ingenious. The young men were able to give their jackets to the young women because of the chill, a chivalrous gesture.

I made my way down the west side of the Hill. Because of the wind and fog, I could smell the sea and the nasturtiums that dot the path. I kept inhaling deeply. The scents in the air were almost therapeutic.

A view of the west side and one of the footbridges. In addition to boats, you can also rent a bicycle. A bicycle ride around the Lake and through the Park in general is a wonderful way to spend your time.

The forest and the trees. I'm almost at the bottom of the Hill at this point.

Yet another footbridge. A young couple were biking around the Lake on a date.
I offered to take a picture of them sitting on the bridge. They were adorable.

More water, more waterfowl.
I've come full circle. The Peace Pagoda from the other direction.
That's Strawberry Hill on the left.

Strawberry Hill. You can see the waterfall.
I didn't go to the Pagoda but it's a nice place to linger and take photos.


anne said...

MT, this is SOOOO lovely! If I ever get to visit SF, I want to tour this park on a bicycle!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

oh! your mystery waterfowl is a muscovy duck. i saw one at lake merritt and looked that one up!

Mock Turtle said...

@Anonymous: This is just seven tons of awesomeness! Thanks sooo much for identifying my bird.

@anne: Thank you for the kind compliments as always. I think you would really love Stow Lake and the Park in general. I'll be doing more posts on GGP in the future.