This walk is reposted from my column over at Ocean Beach Bulletin. If you're bored, go check out the comments about the lake over there since they offer a cool discussion about the salinity of the lake, the breeds of fish swimming in it, and some cool buildings in the area. Or not. You can just look at the pictures below and draw your own conclusions about the salinity, etc.
Here’s a little trivia about Lake Merced brought to you by the Western Neighborhoods Project: Lake Merced was originally inhabited by the Ohlone Indians, who fished the lake and plied the nearby Pacific for fish, seals and the occasional beached whale. The Spanish arrived in 1774, scouted the area as a possible mission site and named it The Lake of Our Lady of Mercy – which later became the corrupted Spanish/English “Merced.”
My brother, Kelly, came along for this walk and took most of the pictures. Thanks, Kel! Since he joins me frequently for walks, I guess I should introduce him: He’s a musician who performs under the name of Hotel Eden. You can say hello to him on Twitter @hoteleden. He’d like that.
Wrapping around the perimeter of the lake is a paved walkway. Parallel to said paved walkway is a rough-hewn dirt path, if that’s your thing. There are also a few dirt paths that cut through the woods and down to the shore of the lake, for a more organic experience. The whizzing traffic just feet from the paved walkway can detract from the transcendental experience.
In addition to walking past the lake itself, the path also leads you past – among other things – the campus of San Francisco State University and the Olympic Club Golf Course.
If you are anywhere along the east side of the lake, you can’t miss the Parkmerced property. The neighborhood is ridiculously large by San Francisco standards. It has high-rises, townhouses, 12 fitness centers and even a Montessori School.
The wild card of the walk was definitely discovering the Pacific Rod and Gun Club, where anyone (membership not required!) can shoot guns toward the lake. This club has been in existence since 1928, so I’m sure they have plenty of safety measures in place, but it seems a little dangerous to have random people firing guns in close proximity to lake visitors. A reader has informed me that shooting is limited to specific times twice a week and is very controlled, so have no fear when visiting the lake...you won't get shot.
After completing the full loop around the lake, we were HUNGRY. So Kelly and I stopped at the first place that served gluten free food: Jitra Thai on Ocean Avenue, just east of the lake. I guess I should tell you now, I eat a lot of Thai food and I consider myself somewhat of an authority on this cuisine. So when I say that this was some mean Thai food, stop what you’re doing and go there immediately. Be sure to order the Toasted Coconut De-Lite appetizer.
Okay, for funzies, here are a few bonus pics from the walk that didn't make the Ocean Beach Bulletin column.
The sun was starting to set, so I got a bunch of back-lit shots.
This one is my favorite.
And, while I'm in the bonus-giving mood, here is a little video we made about our walk around the lake. It's short. Let me know what you think. I may make more videos if you like it. Or not, if you don't. Be honest.