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Stairway Walks in San Francisco - Meet the Queen

Updated on December 9, 2010

What a fun way to exercise ... and explore.

Back in 1998, a friend found a little treasure online - Stairway Walks of San Francisco. It's a book that lists 15 stairway walks here in San Francisco. Many of them can barely be noticed without the book, so it became an indispensable guide because it lists the level of exercise and how long it will take to complete. Some are done in a circle, so you don't have to repeat the same route.

We really got into it, mainly because it was so fun to use, and they all offer some unique photo opportunities too. The first time out, we chose the walk that goes to Coit Tower, starting in North Beach. It was such a hoot to be in our own city and get stumped from time-to-time, trying to find a little hidden alley or that narrow walk between two buildings. It became laughable a few times because we'd have to re-trace our steps and make sure we didn't miss something. It was clearly one of the most fun times we'd had, and at the end, we were exhausted, but felt great. We'd each taken a couple hundred photos and realized that we'd been having fun while we were exercising. How cool is that? And, we got to discover parts of the city that had been hidden from the normal day-to-day passing of our life here.

Since that time, we've done many more of the walks in the book and they're all unique. Obviously, it's the hills that created the need for the stairways, and many are still used regularly. Some are actually streets, like Harry Street and Napier Lane. It's amazing to think of how people who live on those "streets" manage to get their furniture in or out.

Harry Street - Stairway Walk San Francisco
Harry Street - Stairway Walk San Francisco | Source
Napier Lane - Stairway Walk San Francisco
Napier Lane - Stairway Walk San Francisco | Source

The first edition of Adah's book came out in 1986 and she's now on number seven, which is better than ever and with more walks and photos. It's such a great and unique way to check out the city from this new and exciting perspective

While Adah's book is available everywhere, there other ways to find these and other walks, which number over 2000 stairways in San Francisco alone. Naturally, they're not all riveting, but nevertheless, they're there ... waiting to be explored. Adah has painstakingly pulled together the best of the best, which makes it far easier to pick out your favorites; so there's no trial and error. You'll find maps, with estimates of the time each walk will take, and how difficult it will be. Some are strenuous, some are not.

After I got the sixth edition of her book, I had the pleasure of meeting with her and she even allowed my friend and I to videotape her in her home, telling about how she came up with the idea and how she and how Marian Gregoire helped make the books possible, "She was the person who kept myriads of details in order. She scouted and re-checked facts, and she has a wonderful sense of direction. She was my invaluable extra brain."

Click anywhere here to watch the video we shot, and hear her tell the story in her own words.

Get the book right here.

Adah's enthusiasm for walking still amazes me. She talked about her love of neighborhoods in the city and urban life in general, which shows how much she loves San Francisco. Her home is spotless and filled with beautiful art that she has been collecting over the years. Her main love is 16mm film and has done many projects of her own and also taught film production to college students at San Francisco State.

We also talked about technology and how she loves it, but prefers to spend her time outdoors, walking and talking to people. She seems to have her priorities straight.

If you're interested in meeting Adah, she frequently does book signings at Borders Books on Union Square. Call ahead and you can get your book, meet Adah and then go for a walk ... on some stairways.

A few things you'll discover.

Sunset Heights Walk
Sunset Heights Walk | Source
Coit Tower Walk
Coit Tower Walk | Source
Coit Tower Walk
Coit Tower Walk | Source
Coit Tower Walk
Coit Tower Walk | Source
Pacific Heights Walk
Pacific Heights Walk | Source


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    • RandySFO profile image

      RandySFO 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I travel a bit and SF is still a fav! You must come. BTW, my blog has more stairway walk info, plus a video interview of the woman who wrote the book! Http://

    • LadyLola profile image

      Lanie Robinson 5 years ago from Canada

      Gorgeous photos! Such a beautiful city. Visiting San Francisco just made the top of my bucket list.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Excellent Hub, Randy! I love all of the original photos and the great information of hidden gems in San Francisco! Nice work!