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Navigating the creeks, canyons and tunnels of the Ridge Trail

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Join Walk SF on a tour of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. (Courtesy James Gaither/flickr.com/photos/jim-sf)

In 1969, about 89 percent of children who lived within a mile of their schools got to class by walking or biking. In 2009, only 35 percent of the children living within walking distance actually made the short trip by foot or bike. Conversely, while rates of walking have plummeted, during these same intervening decades, children’s obesity and asthma rates have skyrocketed.

What would happen if children today walked as much as they did in 1969? Collectively, we’d save 1.5 million tons of carbon and 89,000 tons of other pollutants. Moreover, children who walk to school would be better able to pay attention in class, see boosts in their learning and memory capacity and improve their academic performance.

It’s fitting then that October is officially Walktober — a month-long celebration of walking. Here in San Francisco, Walktober kicks off with nearly 100 schools and 14,000 San Francisco children participating in Walk and Roll to School Day on Wednesday. This year’s event will mark the 20th anniversary of this fun day of encouragement, designed to start kids on a healthy, life-long habit.

This Walktober, why not challenge yourself to get active and reduce your own carbon footprint? Walking is an easy, virtually cost-free and proven way to lose weight, strengthen bones and muscles, reduce stress and improve balance, simply by getting out to enjoy and explore nature, The City or both.

Get your healthy habit started by joining Walk San Francisco and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council for a taste of Bay Area Ridge Trail’s 15-mile path through San Francisco on Oct. 9.

While seasoned hikers and off-road bikers are regulars on the Ridge Trail, most are not as familiar with the segments within The City. The Ridge Trail currently stretches 367 miles from Gilroy in the south, to Calistoga in the north. Eventually, the 550-mile loop will connect residents of nine Bay Area counties to preserved, natural habitats.

October’s transit-friendly walk will be led by Bob Siegel of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, with guest speakers from the Glen Park Association and the Volunteers of Outdoor California. You will start the morning walk at the Glen Park BART Station, but quickly leave your urban surroundings behind to ascend the Creeks to Peaks Trail. Hike through this wild and marvelous canyon nestled between the neighborhoods of Glen Park, Miraloma and Portola, to catch a glimpse of redtail hawks, nesting owls, or even hard-to-spot northern alligator lizards, and walk by one of the few remaining naturally occurring and unobstructed streams left in San Francisco, Islais Creek. Named for the Salinan Native American word for wild cherries, this creek once flowed 3.5 miles from its sources in Glen Canyon to the San Francisco Bay before the Board of Supervisors voted to fill it with debris from the 1906 earthquake, converting it to a subterranean storm water culvert and reducing it to its current trickle.

Emerge from Glen Canyon to walk across The City via Portola Drive, where you’ll connect with the Ridge Trail for its descent to the tunnel at West Portal’s Muni station. Walkers may enjoy an optional lunch at Bursa, on West Portal Avenue between Claremont and San Lorenzo Way.

IF YOU GO:

Navigating the Creeks, Canyons and Tunnels of the Ridge Trail
When: Sunday, Oct. 9, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where: Glen Park BART Station
Details: Walk space limited; $10 minimum donation to Walk SF or Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. RSVP required at walksf.org/event/creekscanyonstunnels

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