If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are well aware of the iconic sign embedded in the hillside in south city. The “South San Francisco The Industrial City” sign, is a sign that everyone who lives in, or travels through, the Bay Area, knows quite well. While we all see this sign from the freeway as we pass through south city on our way up to the city, we never really think about hiking up to it.
I had no idea there was a trail there! I always assumed the sign was inaccessible. A few days before Father’s Day, my husband said he wanted to hike up to the sign. We both grew up in the Bay Area; he on the Peninsula, me in Marin, so we both knew the sign well, we just didn’t realize we could hike to it! He had heard recently there was a trail by the sign, and thought it would be fun to go up close. So on Father’s Day, we did exactly that!
The trail which leads up to the iconic south city sign, is named Sign Hill Park. The trail is very local, so it does not attract crowds of people. We were one of three hiking groups on the trail when we arrived at 10:30am; which is a late time to arrive to a hiking trail on a summer day, especially a weekend day.
Finding the trail can be tricky. The trail head is tucked away behind a home on Franklin Ave. in South San Francisco. I felt like I was trespassing in someone’s backyard when we walked behind their fence to find the trail head. In the photo above, you can see the narrow gutter between the trail entrance, and someone’s backyard fence. This is a trail you should not hike on alone, definitely take a buddy with you! It’s a little private and secluded.
There are two trails marked at the top of the stairs when you enter the trail head. If you want to hike up to the iconic South San Francisco, The Industrial City letters embedded in the hillside, you will want to take the Letters Trails. It is a steep, quick hike up to the letters!
Make sure you are wearing good hiking boots, with good treads. The trail is very steep and if your shoes cannot grip the ground, you will find yourself having trouble navigating the trail. Also, watch for snakes! We saw plenty of snake-holes on our way up to the sign. On warm days, the area is known for ticks too, so try to go when it’s foggy, and always do a tick check after your hike.
The letters are huge! Of course they would need to be large to be seen throughout the area, but you really cannot grasp how big they are until you hike up to them. I couldn’t even get one letter to fit inside the frame on my camera!
The biggest reward from this hike is the view. You can see all of south city from the top of the hill, and you can also catch a glimpse of the bay. It’s an incredible view!
My daughters and I had to take a selfie. I mean, were you there if you didn’t take a selfie?
My husband was definitely on top of the world. It was fun being able to see the letters up close. We both have driven past them throughout our lives, so seeing them up close, and touching them, was really fun.
This was a short, but fun hike. Although the sign said 2 miles, it seemed much shorter. The steep climb was a great workout, and the short distance allowed us to add other fun activities to our day; such as grabbing burritos at Papa Joe’s Taqueria in downtown South San Francisco, and then stopping for ice cream as Baskin Robbins in Belmont on our way home.
Shop my hiking outfit:
If you are local to the Bay Area, this is a hike you have to try at least once in your life. You know the sign, why not hike up to it! You can find the trail head at 43 Franklin Ave, in South San Francisco. I recommend parking on the cross street since the trail head is on a dead-end street.
Have you ever hiked on Sign Hill Park trail? If so, what did you think?
Thanks for stopping by!