The original landscaping and facilities were built by the Works Progress Administration. The park has plenty of trails and WPA-built stone walls.
Pine Lake is one of three natural lakes left in San Francisco out of 10 originals. Homes above look down on the lake and park from their back windows. There’s a delightful trail around the lake. Some of it is cozily enclosed by greenery; you might see ducks on the trail as well as in the water.
“Rabbinoid,” a lifesize sculpture of a rabbit in jogging clothes, used to lean against a rock near the lake with a cellphone to his ear, but he’s gone now.
The Trocadero Clubhouse (formerly Trocadero Inn) can be rented for day or evening events. This Queen Anne roadhouse was restored around 1930 under the direction of Bernard Maybeck.
The stairways are of rough, uneven stone. The foot of the park’s longest stairway (141 steps) begins immediately to the right of the Trocadero.
Unfortunately this whole stairway has always been strewn with trash during my visits, especially bits of paper and broken glass. The rest of the park looks fine; it’s just this one stairway that appears to get more than its share of drinkers and litterers. If it looks like this now, what’s it gonna look like during the upcoming concerts?
Down the stairway from the top, found a connecting trail partway up and headed towards the direction of Pine Lake, climbing over a fallen tree and enjoying the aroma of eucalyptus, descending just before the parking lot and dog play area.
Lots of places to sit -– low walls, benches, tree trunks, logs, and picnic tables. You’ll see ducks, birds, and squirrels.
City Guides hosts free Stern Grove guided tours every third Saturday at 11 a.m.
What this park is most famous for is their free summer concerts and performances in the outdoor amphitheater. These concerts are supported entirely by contributions. Established in 1938, it’s the oldest admission-free summer performing arts festival of its kind in the U.S.
This year Stern Grove Festival presents its 74th consecutive season: Sunday concerts from June 19 through August 21 at 2 p.m.
In 2005 the park underwent a $15 million renovation.
The site was donated to the city in 1931 by Rosalie Meyer Stern who named the park for her late husband Sigmund Stern, a philanthropist and nephew of Levi Strauss. In 1932 Stern Grove was dedicated and two weeks later the San Francisco Symphony played the first concert there. Mrs. Stern, then President of the San Francisco Recreation Commission, formed the Stern Grove Festival Association in 1938, stipulating that all concerts were to be free to the public.
After my stroll round the lake, did a few trails on the opposite side of the park.
Not fond of the heavy trafficked wide streets and long traffic lights in this area, still felt like walking around the ‘hood a bit after leaving the park. This included a stairway that descends from Ocean and San Leandro to Moncada in the Ingleside (45 steps) and along the edge of St. Francis Wood (with its fountains and distinctive sidewalks) a few blocks before heading back to West Portal to catch a Metro.