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Where to find redwoods in San Francisco

Heroes Grove in Golden Gate Park contains a pocket of redwoods honoring veterans and others. | Peter-Astrid Kane for The Standard

Slow-growing and colossal, redwood trees are among the most extraordinary species native to California. They grow naturally in a narrow coastal band from southern Monterey County to the extreme southwestern corner of Oregon, reaching more than 350 feet up and with trunks up to 30 feet across. 

Just as the state’s sea otters were hunted to near-extinction more than a century ago, nearly all the world’s tallest trees were chopped down—felled and harvested for their remarkably light, durable and attractively colored wood. Fog-loving groves still exist, many of them second-growth, in pockets from Big Sur to the canyons east of the Oakland Hills to Armstrong Woods north of Guerneville, along with the more famous Muir Woods and Redwood National Park. But you can find plenty around San Francisco, too, if you know where to look.

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco’s premier park has several stands of redwoods, many of them in designated places of remembrance. Since 1996, the National AIDS Memorial has been a place of solace, its canopy of trees generating deep shade and a sense of peace. Less well-marked is the recently rededicated Heroes Grove, a thicket near the Rose Garden across JFK Drive from the de Young Museum, while the more recreation- and picnic-friendly Hoover Redwood Grove can be found west of 19th Avenue at the park’s southern edge.

Transamerica Pyramid

Although San Francisco’s best-known skyscraper is currently undergoing renovation, the half-acre park behind it contains 80 mature redwoods relocated from the Santa Cruz Mountains in the late 1960s. The beautifully landscaped retreat from the Financial District is a great place to eat lunch. Amazingly, where these trees stand was once the city’s shoreline.

Embarcadero/Levi’s Plaza

The 900,000-square-foot campus anchored by Levi Strauss is a neighborhood to itself, wedged between Telegraph Hill and the bay. Among the cypresses and low-slung buildings, there are plenty of redwoods.

Although closed for renovation, Esprit Park in the Dogpatch contains a number of redwood trees. | Peter-Astrid Kane for The Standard

Esprit Park

Like the Transamerica Pyramid, this Dogpatch green space is also closed off for renovation, but when it reopens as the oasis of a rapidly growing neighborhood, its majestic redwoods will welcome thousands of new residents.

Stern Grove Clubhouse

Better known as the Trocadero Clubhouse, this 19th century roadhouse and gambling parlor is now one of the most beautiful buildings in Stern Grove. Although the yellow and orange nasturtiums greet visitors to the Stern Grove Festival’s free concerts, the driveway is also lined with redwoods. 

Beideman and O’Farrell Mini Park

SF’s most famous parks draw visitors the world over, but sometimes even small neighborhood green spaces have worthwhile attractions. The Western Addition’s Beideman and O’Farrell Mini Park may be tiny, but it’s got well-manicured landscaping and a few towering specimens of California's most beautiful tree.