This hilltop playground at Redwood Grove is truly a unique urban experience. The natural playscape is located in McLaren Park, the third largest city park in San Francisco after Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Part of a revitalization project by Let’s PlaySF, this redesigned natural playground and picnic area at Redwood Grove takes full advantage of site topography and offers extraordinary vistas from the southern end of the city. The project is a collaboration with CMG Landscape Architecture.
A multi-level log tower is the playground centrepiece; it is accessed in multiple ways, including via a large log jam™. A 20 foot long (6 meters) stainless steel tube slide is an exciting exit route from the top of the tower! In plan view, the enormous log jam climber appears to spiral away from the tower. This detail makes subtle reference to the famous tie-dye t-shirts regularly worn by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The nearby Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre is named for the artist who was born and raised in the adjacent neighbourhood of Excelsior. The playground thus makes a wonderfully covert connection to this local musical icon.
The Redwood Grove playground at McLaren Park also offers climbing opportunities for more cautious explorers. The design includes boulders to scramble up and down, log steppers for hopping, and a wide embankment slide for adventures closer to ground level. Seating and hammocks around the site are great places to observe, lounge, or cloud-watch.
The Let’s PlaySF initiative is a joint partnership between the City of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
For another Earthscape playground in San Francisco, check out Willie Woo Woo Wong playground.