The city of San Francisco contains hundreds of stairways that are mostly hidden from tourists and even many locals. Typical walking tours tend not to cover this fascinating feature of the city. These stairways connect interesting and beautiful parts of San Francisco off the beaten paths. They provide links to the city's rich and diverse history, and connect today's neighborhoods and communities. Our goal is to show people the many joys of discovering these wonderful stairways.

We have created a number of walks that cover several of the stairways in a given part of the city. The walks last 2 to 3 hours, and include stops along the way to review points of interest. We delve into the history of the neighborhoods and meet many colorful characters that helped shape the city.

These walks are not for the faint of heart. We climb and descend many stairs and move at a brisk pace. You should be reasonably fit to get the full enjoyment from our guided walks.

For now, these walks are FREE and are conducted as PRIVATE TOURS. You can book a tour by contacting me through email at palmerwalkingtours@gmail.com or call me on 925-212-7406

These walks are inspired by the book Stairway Walks in San Francisco by Adah Bakalinsky and Mary Burk. I highly recommend this book for those of you wishing to discover the stairways at your own pace.


Tours

Telegraph Hill
Telegraph Hill
This is one of my favorite walks. It gives you a brief overview of early San Francisco history and an excellent workout!

The walk starts at the steps in front of the Starbucks coffee shop in Levi Plaza, on the corner of Sansome and Greenwich. Please arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled start time to complete the Waiver form.

View schedule and register
Highlights
This walk focuses on the east side of Telegraph Hill and includes:
Greenwich and Filbert Street stairways
Coit Tower
Julius' Castle
Gray Brothers Quarry
Art Moderne buildings
Wild Parrots (maybe, if the little rascals show up)
Several interesting characters, including Jack Early, Lillie Coit, an Opera singer and a Russian noblewoman.
Basic Statistics
Approximately 4 miles
537 feet climb / descent (1074 feet total elevation change)
16 Stairways
774 steps up and 741 steps down, 1515 in total, with a few hills in between
2.5 to 3 hours duration

Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks
We start this tour with a walk through the neighborhood of one of the most vibrant communities in San Francisco, the Castro. We will discover some of its history and notable persons before embarking on a challenging hike of Twin Peaks. This walk provides some of the best views of the city and includes one of my favorite viewing spots, Tank Hill.

The walk starts in front of the Castro Theater, close to the Muni station. Please arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled start time to complete the Waiver form.

View schedule and register
Highlights
This walk focuses on the Castro district and Twin Peaks, and includes:
History of Eureka Valley and the Castro
Nobby's Castle
Upper Market
Kite Hill, Twin Peaks, and Tank Hill
Twin Peaks SFFD reservoir
Climb some of the most challenging stairways in SF
Take in many great views of San Francisco
Discover several wonderful but hidden public gardens
Basic Statistics
Approximately 4.14 miles in distance
775 feet climb
7 Stairways
700 steps up and 500 steps down, 1200 in total, with a few hills in between
2 to 2.5 hours duration

Corona Heights
Corona Heights
We start this tour in the Castro then ascend Corona Heights, before visiting San Francisco's oldest park, Buena Vista where we will discover what happened to all the corpses in San Francisco (well, the tombstones anyway). Much of the area covered by this tour was (fortunately) spared the devastating destruction of the 1906 fire and many wonderful Victorian homes remain.

The walk starts in front of the Castro Theater, close to the Muni station. Please arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled start time to complete the Waiver form.

View schedule and register
Highlights
This walk focuses on the hills north of the Castro, and includes:
Corona Heights, Buena Vista Park, and Buena Vista Park
Discover the fascinating history of Corona Heights, including many great (and not so great) people who helped shape the hill
Take in many great views of downtown San Francisco downtown, Eureka Valley and the surrounding hills
Learn about San Francisco Victorian architecture
Explore several wonderful public gardens
Basic Statistics
Approximately 3.50 miles
1000 feet climb
18 Stairways
826 steps up and 491 steps down, 1317 in total, with a few hills in between
2 to 2.5 hours duration

Russian Hill
Russian Hill
Russian Hill's fascinating history goes back to the early 1800s. The many stairways uncover its history and highlight several of the interesting characters. Many architectural gems survived the 1906 fires, including some of the earliest homes by Willis Polk, and homes based on the Arts and Crafts architectural movement.

The walk starts at the junction of Mason and Vallejo, just below the Vallejo steps. Please arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled start time to complete the Waiver form.

View schedule and register
Highlights
This walk focuses on Russian Hill and includes:
Vallejo and Chestnut street stairways
Female tennis legend and WW2 spy
House of Passion and House of Flag
Dead Russian Sailors
The Octagon House
First California Poet Laureate
Famous San Francisco architects; Maybeck, Polk and Morgan
Wonderful public gardens and parks, great views of North Beach, and the rest of the city
Basic Statistics
Approximately 3.75 miles
750 feet climb
13 Stairways
872 steps up and 239 steps down, 1111 in total, with a few hills in between.
2 to 2.5 hours duration

Bio

Mike Palmer
Mike Palmer
Walking and history are two of my passions, and discovering the San Francisco stairways has been a great outlet for both. I first fell in love with walking in England while exploring the towns, villages and countryside. It's in my genes. My Dad would think nothing of walking 11 miles (and back) to watch his local soccer team. I have traveled extensively throughout the world and always found walking tours the best way to explore my surroundings.

I was born in Germany and raised in England, eventually moving to the Bay Area 30 years ago. I graduated from college in England with a civil engineering degree and managed large projects in the construction industry. I then moved to managing projects in the computer industry, and stayed in that profession for 25 years.
I retired from full-time employment in 2005 and started my third profession, as a part-time investment specialist in the financial industry.

Now I'm happy to embark on the next chapter of my professional life as a walking tour guide. My extensive professional experience, passion for walking and love of San Francisco allows me to provide the best possible experience. If you're looking for an educational, enjoyable and exceptional tour, please join me!


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