Ye Shall Walk These Bernal Streets, And Know They Are (Still) the Steepest


Waaaaaaay back in 2011, Bernalwood posted an item about an independent researcher who had concluded that, despite some “official” lists which claim that the steepest streets in San Francisco are in Nob Hill and Noe Valley, the actual data indicates that four of the City’s eleven steepest streets are right here in Bernal Heights.  As we concluded at the time:

Bernal Heights may not always be the smartest, or the prettiest, or the most popular neighborhood in the world. But we may rest secure in the knowledge that we will always be the steepest.

Well, it’s two years later, and now 7×7 Magazine has taken another look at the data to determine which City streets are the steepest. And once again, according to writer David LaBua, the streets of Bernal Heights are the steepest in town, capturing the number 1, 3, 4, and 6 slots:


So Bernal’s reign of urban verticality continues. But what’s it like to actually live at the top of Bradford, which is now reaffirmed as the steepest of the steep streets in all of San Francisco? Neighbor Lupe tells it:

As the owner of the last house on Bradford, both my legs and my car brakes can attest to the cliff-like steepness of the street. Most of my friends have “mastered” coming up the hill, and a few have learned to drive up in reverse to simplify getting back down. I marvel at Recology, UPS and FedEx rambling up and down with nary a care. Some of the postmen appear as if they are ready to have a coronary, some are clearly athletically inclined, barely breaking a sweat after reaching the “summit”. Not sure how the Chronicle finds its way here, but the paper sits on my doorstep every weekend, neatly wrapped in its bag. The foot traffic increases on Saturdays and Sundays, and it is easy to see who has not ventured up the hill in the past – the lenghty pauses and wide-eyed look on the faces of these virgins is easy to spot.

IMAGE: Top, Bradford’s 41% grade. Photo by Data Pointed

15 thoughts on “Ye Shall Walk These Bernal Streets, And Know They Are (Still) the Steepest

  1. We looked at the yellow cottage in the photo when it was on the market ~7 years ago. It had other issues, but the deal-killer for us was that hill. We imagined never being able to have anything delivered. 😀

    • We live there now!! Glad you didn’t pick it up because we love it! There are some issues with delivery but not as many as you’d think 😉

  2. Cyclists: if it isn’t already happening, we need our own spring classic to coincide with the Belgian classics. We will christen this De Ronde Van Bernalanderan and climb these hills sometime in April. We will bring disgrace to those of Portlandia ( ) Any takers?

    • Awesome. I wonder if there’s any possible way to pull this off on a road bike so we can avoid dragging dirt bikes around the city. We’ll need to start in some of the more historic hilled ‘hoods before the finale in Bernalanderan.

      What size cassette gets you up a 40 percent grade with a compact crank? I wonder if a 11-34 is manageable?

    • I’ve ridden all of them, some up some down (though these I think up)…check it here ( ). Also, I lead a 7 Hells (based on SFBC route, just the famous hills of SF, sorry Bernal didn’t make the cut) ride in June, at night ( ) and a #cobbleride. Did you know there are cobbles/bricks in SF. I would be happy to tackle all the streets on this list in one ride. That said Bradford, Nevada and Prentiss are all very short sections…so begs the question, what do you call a street.

      As for gearing. I did all on a compact with a 12-27 cassette.

      • It’s that time again… I dig that route. The pitch heading into Noe from the east looks hellacious. Talk to me about cobbles in SF?

        Tour of Flanders is only 3 weeks away…

  3. Please note….There are two Bradford Sts since they don’t connect. One off of Nevada St and the other on top of Alabama St.

  4. When I worked at SFO for the city, I changed jobs and needed a physical. Did the lung capacity test, doctor did it twice more, then asked me where I lived and where I grew up. Told him, Montcalm on Bernal and 24th St. Between DeHaro and Rhode Island. He said, now I understand. According to him, I had the lung capacity of a 22 year old male. Made me feel good. 30 year old female.

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