Roaming Zen

 Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive
– Thich Nhat Hanh

From the plane - Presidio.jpg
Glen Canyon is in front of San Bruno Mountain at the top of the picture. Can you trace the green route we might take?

The next roam is on Saturday 23rd, at the later time of 3:00pm. We will meet at Glen Park BART station, on the plaza in front of the station

This is a solstice special, and, unusually, a one-way roam. It is also quite a bit longer than the average roam, so please be advised!
I have long wanted to take the green way north from Glen Park, all the way to Crissy Field. As far as I can tell, it will be around eight miles, with a bit of climbing as we get over Twin Peaks. I expect we will end up by the water before the sunset – which is around 8:30pm. You will need to make your own way home.
Please bring water, snacks, good shoes and layers for whatever the mid-summer weather holds.

These roams are offered by donation; they are one way I try to be able to afford to continue living in San Francisco! Thank you for your generosity in supporting Roaming Zen.


After a burst of productivity, I scheduled roams for the remainder of the summer, and have a few ideas of where I would like to be going:
July 8th
July 21st
August 5th – a change of date as I got invited to a wedding.
August 19th
September 1st

The Airbnb version is also active again after a winter lay-off. This version has a set route, and a set cost, of which Airbnb takes a chunk.

Mt Sutro woods 5 copy
A trail up the side of Mount Sutro

Part of the Lobos Creek trail – a real favourite of mine.

Glen Canyon.

Grand View is aptly named.

This photo is from the first roam up Mount Davidson. 

Batteries to Bluffs
We have visited Marshall’s Beach a couple of times now, and one of the participants sent a picture of me sitting at the beach last year.

On the crags
Sitting on the crags by Heptonstall in the first English roam.

Heron's Head
The view from Heron’s Head, visited during a bicycle roam.

Kite Hill
On top of Kite Hill.

Land's End
Along the Golden Gate from the Land’s End trail.


The genesis for Roaming Zen was perhaps my shuso practice period at Tassajara, where I noticed that I derived as much energy from being on the trails or up the road, among the trees and by the creek, as I did from the hours in the zendo. It was perhaps crystallised by a visit to Tassajara with a group from Young Urban Zen a year or two later: after the days of work, a group of us set off for a hike along the Horse Pasture trail, and at one stage, hearing all the talk of people’s pre-occupations and mundane affairs, someone in the group asked if we could all hike in silence for a while and properly take in the surroundings. Afterwards, the agreed verdict was that the silence had transformed the hike.
And so, having tried versions of it at City Center, Green Gulch and Tassajara, one of my main teachings since leaving Zen Center has been to gather a small group of people, sit with them, introduce a little quote or theme, and lead them around a chosen route, cultivating mindful presence through walking and sitting quietly in the midst of city life.
There are so many little corners of San Francisco that lend themselves to the activity, surrounded by beauty, views, and sometimes quiet. We have visited hills and canyons, creeks and beaches, staircases and alleys; we have listened to birds and waves, watched butterflies and bees, smelled flowers and ocean spray. We have looked over all sides of San Francisco and to the mountains beyond.

The lost art of writing
Corona Heights

I doubt many people reading this need much persuasion about the benefits of hiking, but this article lists some of them.

I like to give some credit to OpenStreetMap, for featuring much more detail in paths and trails than I ever get from Apple Maps or Google Maps – I would not have found some of these routes without it.

If we go somewhere on foot, we know the way perfectly, whereas if we go by motor car or airplane we are hardly there at all, it becomes merely a dream – Chögyam Trungpa

I couldn’t ask for a better quote to sum up Roaming Zen!