Get Walking on a New Pedestrian Trail With Views of San Francisco Bay

Reviving the Presidio marshland.

In December, the Presidio Trust unveiled to visitors seven acres of restored tidal marshland and a new pedestrian trail near San Francisco Bay, marking a significant milestone in the 20-year revitalization of one of San Francisco’s original watersheds.

The site is known as Quartermaster Reach, named for the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps, which operated in the area when the Presidio was a military post. The project transforms a formerly paved construction site under the “Presidio Parkway” approach to the Golden Gate Bridge into a beautiful new wetland ecosystem. Creeks now flow above ground along the Presidio’s largest watershed known as Tennessee Hollow to San Francisco Bay through Crissy Marsh, improving the biodiversity of the Presidio. The site will allow visitors to enjoy an intimate experience of nature just minutes from downtown.

Work at Quartermaster Reach brought an 850-foot length of stream once buried in a pipe back above ground through excavation. Box culverts were then installed beneath Mason Street at Crissy Marsh to allow the fresh water of the stream to flow into the saltwater marsh and San Francisco Bay, creating unique brackish habitat that is vital to a variety of plant and animal species.

Specially fabricated fiberglass panels installed within the culverts, and concrete and shell “reef balls” placed in the marsh channels, are part of a unique experiment to promote the resurgence of the native Olympia​ oyster. The team is currently planting 23,000 plants¸—including more than 40 different species of saltmarsh and dune plants grown in the Presidio Nursery—to create habitat attractive for the Presidio’s many migrating shorebirds and water animals like fish and crabs.

“Our planet is in the midst of an extinction crisis due to the destruction of habitat. Projects like this give us hope that we can turn the tide. We’ve turned back time more than a century to restore the natural systems of the Presidio’s shoreline. We hope the lessons we learn here will be helpful to others who are also committed to restoring Bay ecology,” says Jean Fraser, CEO of the Presidio Trust.

With the addition of a pedestrian bridge and trail connector, visitors can hike from Crissy Field’s East Beach, under the Presidio Parkway, and along the Tennessee Hollow Trail all the way to the southern end of the Presidio.

“The pandemic has shown us how critical access to nature is, with the myriad of health benefits it provides for human beings—especially in an urban environment,” says Laura Joss, Superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “With the adjacent Presidio Tunnel Tops project opening in October of 2021, these new park sites will continue our work in providing a national park experience for all.”

Quartermaster Reach is a huge milestone in the 20-year effort of the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service to restore the park’s largest watershed. Work has been completed in sections at sites including El Polin Spring, MacArthur Meadow, and Thompson Reach. Other sections will be restored in coming years.

“We are so grateful to the people who have supported the restoration of this watershed, from individual donors to Parks Conservancy members and volunteers,” says Christine Lehnertz, President & CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. “This is an incredible gift to this region, and builds on the work that began in 2001 with the restoration of Crissy Field and Crissy Marsh.”

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