March 15 Hawk Hill, San Francisco, California

On our way back to Taiwan, we stopped for a brief visit in San Francisco. It was a beautiful day, so we went for a hike. Melody recommended a place called Hawk Hill because it has excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

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Pat, Melody and Ann are standing on top of Hawk Hill, with the Golden Gate Bridge and San francisco in the background.

First, we stopped at the rest stop just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Part of this rest stop is a memorial to the Naval Services. Like most everyone else, I had always just stopped at this rest stop to take photos of San Francisco and use the rest rooms. This was the first time I walked around the entire rest stop and read the memorial.  I am glad that I did.

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Ann is standing next to a statue of a sailor at the Naval Services memorial at the rest stop across from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Hawk Hill is a 923-foot (281 meter) peak in the Marin Headlands,  just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and across the Golden Gate strait from San Francisco. The hill is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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Pat is standing on a path near the top of Hawk Hill

It is the lookout point where you can see the largest migrational flight of raptors in the Pacific states. Each autumn, from August into December, tens of thousands of hawks, kites, falcons, eagles, vultures, osprey, and crows fly into the headlands of Marin County.

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Melody and Ann are standing at the lookout point near the top of Hawk Hill

Hawks avoid flight over water since warm thermals that provide lift are rare. There are large populations of small mammals protected by the park, and this is one reason for the large number of visiting raptors here during the fall.  But mostly they tend to congregate here because of the strong onshore winds hitting the hills which provide cold updrafts and hot late summer days which provide warm thermals that allow the birds to fly more efficiently.

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Melody is pointing to a raptor flying above the hill

We were not on the hill during the raptor migration, but we still saw many birds. I think we mostly saw turkey vultures and crows, but it was still fun to watch them play in the thermal updrafts!

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One of the many birds that we saw flying above Hawk Hill

The view from the top was excellent!

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Pat is relaxing on a concrete slab near the top of Hawk Hill with a view of San Francisco in the background behind him

There were many concrete fortifications and tunnels on the hill left from when it was a military site.

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Melody and Pat pause near an old military tunnel on Hawk Hill

I would definitely like to come back to Hawk Hill when the raptors are migrating in the fall, but it is a great place to go hiking in the spring.

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Melody and Pat are standing underneath some “pre-historic style” cave art in a tunnel on Hawk Hill

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