June 7th, 2024
Glen Canyon Park: A Hidden San Francisco Gem

Glen Canyon Park is a historic public space tucked into the central hills of San Francisco. As the headwaters of Islais Creek, the canyon is a much-revered oasis providing solitude and escape among its woods and hillside trails and has provided open space and recreational amenities for multiple generations of San Franciscans. 

Glen Canyon Sequence 01

Over the years, however, the park struggled due to a lack of financial resources for maintenance and enhancement.

WRT worked with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) on a park improvement plan which was subsequently shaped further in design development and construction document phases, and implemented through construction completion by Public Works and RPD City staff.

Various Glen Canyon projects implemented over recent years were guided by the improvement plan which placed community priorities at the forefront. These include the following:

  • The design of Glen Canyon Park should reflect the history and cultural heritage of the area          and foster a sense of place unique to the Canyon.
  • The park should foster a sense of wilderness and be a place to explore nature.
  • The park should have innovative active recreation features.
  • The park should be a place for all kinds of people, flora and fauna to coexist.

Glen Canyon Sequence 3

One of the biggest improvements was the redesign of the park entrance, which had become overgrown, pinched, and unwelcoming. Relocating the tennis courts took significant pressure off the entrance and begins a sequence of spaces designed for various experiences - such as the central walk, terraced seating, and playground - that attract people to the park and provide a clear connection into the canyon, following the creek's alignment. 

Elevated platforms and topography keep routes passable during flooding while native plantings that reside in the lower areas not only slow rainwater but make the horticultural connection between the front of the park with the wilder landscape beyond.

Glen Canyon Sequence 2

With these improvements, the park is thriving. On any given day, it’s walking, hiking, or running the trails. Parents watch their kids participate in youth sports and laugh and play in the playground. The redesigned recreation center is a place for all ages to experience various camps and classes. In addition to this programming, many just appreciate the unprogrammed parts of the park. The canyon, and its beautiful natural areas inspire curiosity, provide respite from the rigors of urban life, and refuge for wildlife.

Glen Canyon Park continues to embody the spirit of community and nature, serving as a vital green space in the heart of San Francisco.

Upcoming Event

Check out a screening of the 1980s hit Labyrinth at the park on Friday, July 12th. This is hosted through the San Francisco Parks Alliance Sundown Cinema program.

Learn more here.