Presidio Park



Presidio Hill is within Presidio Park. This area is famous because it is the site of California's first Presidio (a kind of fort). Presidio Hill is also the site of California's first Mission (Mission San Diego de Alcalá). Both the Presidio and the Mission were built in 1769.

presidio hill




presidio hill

The purpose of the California Missions is to colonize the Pacific Coast by converting Native Americans to the Catholic faith. In 1774, the Mission de Alcala, originally built on Presidio Hill, was relocated to Mission Valley so as to separate the religious teachings from the military influences of the fort.

After the war, Presidio of San Diego and Fort Stockton were abandoned; they no longer exist. The only things left are artifacts from archeological digs, hand drawn images, and underground ruins at Presidio Hill.



Today, with the Presidio and the Mission gone, Presidio Park is a luxurious green space where weddings and picnics can be held. Highlights include the Junipero Serra Museum, the Arbor, historical monuments, and walking trails.


Where to Start ("X" on map):

From Old Town Historical State Park, look to the east and find the American flag at the top of the hill - that's where you want to go. Walk uphill (east) along Mason St. At the junction of Mason and Jackson, you will find a set of stairs that lead you to Presidio Park (see photos). Recall that Presidio is the site of the first fort in California: it makes sense to have the fort on top of a hill.

Once on the hill, wander a little further east until you see the Arbor.

presidio hill



presidio hill
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The Arbor ("1" on map):

This is a lovely patch of land with white columns and a semi covered walkway. This is a popular site for weddings and small ceremonies. Organized events of 30 or less people permitted upon request. Call (619) 235-1169 for fee information and availability. The Arbor and Presidio Park are public spaces, as such you are welcome to come for a stroll or stay for a picnic.

From the Arbor, look to the west and cross the street. A set of stairs lead you to the Old Fort Stockton Historical Site.



Old Fort Stockton & Mormon Battalion
("2" on map):

At the very top of Presidio Hill, this spot was key to defending San Diego. Mexicans and early Americans fought to control this area until 1846 when Captain Stockton drove out the Mexicans for the very last time.

The last military company to occupy this Fort was the Mormons Battalion. These men and women traveled 2,000-mile to California to help in the war efforts. They came too late as the war was over; however, their determination is honored at this site with a plaque, a mural, and a statue - all commemorating the Mormon

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Battalion of 1847. Continue northwards and you will come upon the Junipero Serra Museum.



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Juniper Serra Museum (#3 on map):

This museum was built in 1928: it is not California's first Mission (the Mission was moved to Mission Hills in 1774). This Museum contains artifacts found in the archeological digs performed within this area. These include tools, weapons, art, clothing, and furniture from the Kumeyaay Indian, the Spanish Explorers, and the Mexicans who

inhabited the area. There's a great view if you climb to the top of the museum tower. It used to be open daily from 10am-4:30pm and cost $5; however, details change frequently. Call (619) 232-6203 for information.

At this point, you can choose to enjoy the nature trails, canyons, and viewpoints to the east. Or, walk along Presidio Drive to find the Padre, the Cross, and the Indian.



Hiking Trail ("4" on map):
East of the Museum you will find a series of loosely defined hiking trails. Some trails are well maintained by boy scouts whereas others are somewhat directionless. Sometimes it is unclear whether you will end up at a dead-end or at a lookout. Highlights on this northeast part of Presidio Park include Inspiration Point and Palm Canyon.

presidio hill
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presidio hill
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The Padre and Cross ("5" on map):

If you were to walk along Presidio Drive (west of the Junipero Serra Museum), you will find the Padre located in a quiet little alcove. The Padre and the Cross were erected in 1913 using materials from ruins of the Presidio.


The Indian ("6" on map):

This statue of a Native American is in honor of the people who lived here before the arrival of Europeans. Arthur Putnum is the sculptor of the Padre and the Indian. Both statues were gifts from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation.

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presidio hill
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Presidio of San Diego (7" of map):

As you walk south along Jackson St, take note of a grassy area surrounded by a wall. This was the site of the Presidio, you can still see lumps and bumps under the ground where walls and ruins must be buried. the only records of how this presidio was organized is through old hand-drawn images and pictures reconstructed from textual information. See here



From here, you can walk south along Jacskon Street until you arrive at the junction of Mason and Jackson. The walk around Presidio Hill takes about half an hour, though it will take longer if you visit the Museum & monuments, or if you stop for a picnic. Presidio Park as a whole is almost 50 acres in size and includes approximately 2 miles of nature trails.