Jan 28, 2021
Presidio Tunnel Tops is one of the biggest improvements ever made to the Presidio. The 14-acres of new parkland includes attractions – such as trails, views, gardens, and a two-acre playscape for kids known as the “Outpost.” Here kids can explore, play, and learn about the outdoors – and it’s totally free!
Located at the base of Presidio Tunnel Tops near Crissy Field, the Outpost is a child-friendly landscape where kids can become immersed in the Presidio’s native habitat. It’s a play area suitable for kids from toddlers to preteens. It was designed to help kids test boundaries, improve their physical skills, and build confidence and independence by taking “beneficial risks.” As a child moves through the playscape from East to West, they’ll experience physical challenges that increase gradually. The play features here come from Earthscape, one of the world’s leading designers of one-of-a-kind playgrounds.
Five years ago, the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service hosted a workshop with the public to help design a destination for children of all ages within Presidio Tunnel Tops. The event was attended by everyone – from the Presidio Tunnel Tops’ designers and Presidio Trust staff and board members, to community members, landscape experts, medical professionals, and experts in outdoor education. Their goal was to design an experience in the park unlike anything that could be found elsewhere in the City – something unique that would make it worth the trip to the Presidio.
They learned that people wanted a safe, family-friendly site that provided opportunities for youth to develop a deeper connection with the Presidio’s nature and history. A place that could improve the mental and physical health of children and foster lifelong connections with the environment. A place that could enhance social skills and tap into an international trend of allowing children and youth to learn from doing. The result is the Outpost.
The Outpost is divided into three areas: Woodlands, Coastal Bluff, and Dunes – each with features representing the Presidio’s native ecosystems. Kids can explore eight different play areas in the Outpost, such as the “Hydrotunnel,” a tunnel for crawling and hiding, and the “Woodland Wall” (pictured), a large wall of varied height with nooks for climbing inspired by the Presidio’s forest, planted by the Army over 150 years ago, with its trees that contain nooks for owls and woodpeckers.
The Outpost is now open and ready to be explored. Come take a look at one of the Outpost’s biggest play features Fallen Tree (pictured). The tree is a large 250 year-old reclaimed white oak that Earthscape spent months sanding and hand-carving. The tree was then sculpted into three pieces and hollowed out so kids could crawl inside. It was inspired by the Presidio’s forest where fallen trees become habitat for animals, like coyotes and skunks. The result is a one-of-a-kind sculpture that’s ready for children to explore and enjoy!
Presidio Tunnel Tops opened in July 2022.