Artist Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Wood Line’ Follows Rich History of San Francisco’s Presidio Forest

Artist Andy Goldsworthy's 'Wood Line' Follows Rich History of San Francisco's Presidio Forest
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Artist Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Wood Line’ Follows Rich History of San Francisco’s Presidio Forest

So you’ve walked popular Lover’s Lane in the Presidio, but have you ever noticed the pathway hidden next to it?

Tucked quietly between Lover’s Lane and Presidio Boulevard, Andy Goldsworthy’s 1,200-foot-long Wood Line is an installation of eucalyptus tree stumps seamlessly curving through the forest, flanked by standing eucalyptus.

Walking along the top of it is practically mandatory for all ages. This sinuous path beckons whimsy and is as mystical on foggy days as it is when sunshine beams through the forest canopy.

Wood Line was created from eucalyptus debris removals made during park maintenance and will eventually decompose back into the earth.

On this very site in the late 1800s, the Army planted eucalyptus with rows of Monterey cypress interspersed, part of its program to create a green canopy all around the Presidio. Conditions did not favor the cypress and they died out, leaving open gaps.

The right side of the path is bordered by a dense forest of eucalyptus, cypress and pines which were planted by the military in the late 19th century. On the left side we passed a charming row of historic military housing. There were also wild blackberries on both sides on part of the trail.
The right side of the path is bordered by a dense forest of eucalyptus, cypress, and pines that were planted by the military in the late 19th century. On the left side we passed a charming row of historic military housing. There were also wild blackberries on both sides on part of the trail.

The Presidio is rich in military and social history. Lovers Lane got its name because this route was traveled 150 years ago by soldiers on the way to town to meet up with their sweethearts.

Parallel to Lovers’ Lane you can find the “Wood Line”, an outdoor piece of art by British artist and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy.

Begun in 2010 and completed a year later, Wood Line offers a stark contrast with Goldsworthy’s first Presidio piece, the towering Spire.

Whereas Spire calls upon viewers to look up, Wood Line invites you to contemplate where the life of a tree begins…the fertile earth. Wood Line was created by trimmed branches, felled trees and eucalyptus trunks collected from the Doyle Drive reconstruction.

Each piece of log was carefully selected to create a continuous curving line through the forest landscape. Over time this installation will decompose and return to the earth.

There were sweethearts, hikers, joggers, kids (and adults) climbing and balancing on top of the wood line and nature lovers…even a team of videographers filming a documentary about the wood line.

BONUS HIKE: The Wood Line is one of Andy Goldsworthy’s four Presidio pieces (Spire, Tree Fall, and Earth Wall are the others).

Explore all of them on a three-mile hiking loop. Use the map from the “Goldsworthy in the Presidio” brochure.


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John Smith has been with Histecho since 2017, A Senior Editor & Writer for Histecho. his work has been featured in outlets such as Scientific American, The Washington Post, NBC News, and Fox News. John grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York.