Does your city inspire you with a new passion? Not sure, or….you are just too busy to stop and listen to what your city is whispering?
Having transitioned from a Product Marketing Manager at Google to the founder of Urban Hiker SF, our host, Alexandra, seems going on a unique path of her own. “When I decided to leave the company after 4 ½ years, I realized that even though I had been living in San Francisco a long time, I didn’t know the city that well.” She says. “When I saw how many amazing places we had here, I wanted to share my favorite spots with others. It was then that Urban Hiker SF was born!”
Today, take a walk through nature and learn more about her journey and how San Francisco helped her discover her passion of hiking. Also read the story of her experiences with double rainbows, and read about a hiking spot you have to visit at least once in your lifetime.
- Hi Alexandra, can you introduce yourself and tell us about the classes that you offer?
Hi all! I’m the founder of Urban Hiker SF, an urban hiking tour company that explores the stairways, hills, and hiking trails of San Francisco. The Urban Jungles Urban Hiking Tour I offer on Verlocal takes people from the Castro Theatre to Twin Peaks—and back—in three action-packed hours. On our hike, we stop by the an 1890s Victorian mansion, the Seward Street Slides, a eucalyptus forest, and Sutro Tower, and many more places—taking in panoramic views and and learning local history on our way.
- When did you first become interested/passionate in hiking and outdoors?
I always knew I loved the outdoors, but I became really passionate about hiking and other outdoor activities when I moved to San Francisco. As I began to meet people and make friends here, I found they wanted to hang out by going hiking or biking. And as I saw more and more of the natural areas of San Francisco, I was hooked on doing as much as I could outside!
- Where does your motivation come from? What is the story that made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?
I used to work as a Product Marketing Manager at Google. When I decided to leave the company after 4 ½ years, I realized that even though I had been living in San Francisco a long time, I didn’t know the city that well. When I left Google, I was thankful that I finally had some time to explore. I began hiking around the city, visiting the Sunset’s mosaic stairways and the trails of Fort Funston and McLaren Park. When I saw how many amazing places we had here, I wanted to share my favorite spots with others. It was then that Urban Hiker SF was born!
- How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you? I feel my hikes help people connect with San Francisco on a deeper level. When we hike together, we experience the different facets of San Francisco and learn the history of people who made San Francisco what it is today. People come away from our hikes with a better appreciation of the city, and a curiosity to explore more.
- How long have you been living in the Bay Area? What would you recommend to someone who just moved to this city?
I have lived in the Bay Area since August 2007. San Francisco is so beautiful, so I’d tell a newcomers to find ways to explore the city’s natural areas. Some of my favorite things to do outside include: running along Crissy Field, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, and hiking the Lands End Trail.
- Tell us about the favorite moment/story you’ve had between you and your guests when you were teaching your classes.
One of my favorite moments hiking with guests started rather inauspiciously. The hike was on a day where it looked like rain. Normally, we don’t hike in the rain, but these hikers had one day only in the city and wanted to hit the trails. As we climbed up to Twin Peaks, the skies opened up and we got poured on for a good 10 minutes! Luckily, the rain quickly cleared, and all this time the hikers’ spirits remained high. As we made it to the summit of Twin Peaks, the sun came out, and we looked up to see a gorgeous double rainbow above us! It was all worth it.
- Any hiking spot will you recommend people to try at least once in their lifetime?
In San Francisco, I like hiking the Lands End Trail, going through Sea Cliff, walking along Baker Beach, and then hopping on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail to the Golden Gate Bridge. This is probably the most stunning hike you can do in San Francisco, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, and the Marin Headlands.
For hiking elsewhere, I know it sounds, but I’m going to suggest Hong Kong! I know when most people think about Hong Kong, they picture a giant city, but Hong Kong has literally hundreds of miles of hiking trails! With four official national trails (Hong Kong Trail, Lantau Trail, Maclehose Trail, and Wilson Trail), and many other smaller trails, Hong Kong is a hiker’s paradise!
- What are your goals for the future?
I had always wanted to publish a book, and I finally got my opportunity to do so! In 2014, I submitted a book proposal to Mountaineers Books for an urban hiking guidebook to San Francisco. My book Urban Trails San Francisco was just released this week, so I’d say my future goal is to have people use my book to enjoy hiking in San Francisco.
- Any recommendations to someone who wants to pursue their passion for a career?
I am a practical person, so I’m going to give a practical response! While I am building a business around my passion, I still need to pay the bills. For the past 3 years, I’ve had a part-time job related to my former corporate gig. This helps me have a regular income, some of which I can invest in my business. While some think having another job would hinder building a business, I’ve found it’s helped me. If I don’t have to stress about paying the bills, I can keep building my business without feeling forced to go back to a corporate career for financial reasons.
- What does Verlocal mean to you?
To me, Verlocal means a community of fun-loving, curious people who want to gain a deeper knowledge of their surroundings. People using the Verlocal platform are interested in the world around them and also want to learn from others.
All Photos by Alexandra Kenin
From 12/14 to 12/21, tell us what your favorite hiking spot is or ask Alexandra any question under this post! One lucky commenter will receive a FREE Urban Jungles Hiking Tour hosted by Alexandra!
Share your thoughts now.