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Friday Slide Show: Mountain Lake Park Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

12 June 2015

We have a special fondness for Mountain Lake Park. Mom would push our buggy around its two meadows and through its pine trees to get some fresh air into our infant lungs. So its sun has always seemed a bit warmer to us.

Mountain Lake Park. The sun is warmer here.

We moved back to the Richmond after college and lived there 28 years, just a couple of blocks from the park. And when we saw a buggy being wheeled around the park then, we couldn't help but smile.

The big attraction at the time wasn't the paths through the 14-acre park, though. There were two bigger attractions.

The first was Myrtle the Swan, who would walk the nearby streets honking at specific doors. And the second was an alligator that had been abandoned in the lake and grew much larger than pet alligators usually grow.

Mountain Lake Panorama. Stitched in Lightroom.

Today you'll have to be content to visit the dog play area to the east, or the basketball half-court hidden in the pines, or the card shack built in 1958, or the tennis courts, or the playground (with its long concrete slide), or the 1973 parcourse fitness circuit.

The fresh water lake has been here longer than San Francisco itself, fed by an aquifier and emptying through Lobos Creek in the Presidio to the Ocean. In 1776, Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza's scouting party camped at the lake on their way to establishing the military outpost that would become the Presidio.

Then came Junipero Serra to build Mission Dolores, which inspired the soldiers at the Presidio to make a bee-line to the Mission on weekends, burning a trail affectionately called Lovers' Lane. And there was that Gold Rush a few years later. And the Earthquake and Fire of 1906 after that.

And all that time, the sun beamed down brightly on Mountain Lake Park.

After years of neglect and runoff from both nearby Highway 101 (you can see a vehicle or two just beyond the lake in our shots as they head into the MacArthur Tunnel on their way to the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Presidio golf course, the park has been improved and the lake restored.

We aren't the only thing that's been nourished by the place. Over 250 species of birds, 30 species of butterflies, 50 species of mammals and more federally protected species than any other national park in the continental United States have also enjoyed it.

But we did say the sun is a bit warmer at Mountain Lake Park.

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