A few months ago a friend of mine introduced me to the life of cycling. I pretty much fell immediately in love with it-all of a sudden I was getting up at 5:15 AM just to get a longer ride in before work. Seriously, what? Needless to say I also started going on long weekend rides so that I could be out during the day and really explore the city. I had already been adventuring around SF via motorcycle, but this was a whole new way of seeing my neighborhood, my city, my surroundings.

As a beginner cyclist, I immediately sought out the Wiggle (the easiest way up to Golden Gate Park from the Mission). I was happily surprised to find out that it was indeed a ride that even I, an out-of-shape novice, could handle. This opened up a whole new set of biking options…including Golden Gate Park.

My first ride through the park left me grinning like an idiot, as did my my second, third, fourth…well you get the idea. When I thought about Golden Gate Park before exploring it by bicycle, I only knew about the big ticket items-the Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, the de Young Museum. I had no idea how huge the park really is, and how many hidden paths, fields and even animal paddocks there are (take a look at the map). Look above at the miniature boat flying across Spreckles Lake–go here on a Sunday and there will be 5 to 15 people out there with their tiny remote control boats- it’s quite serene.   Then at the end of the line you are rewarded yet again by a view of the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach.

The more time I spend exploring Golden Gate Park, the larger it seems. One cool find leads to another and another. The photos shown here are from a few winter bike rides through the park, a bunch of random turnoffs, and one close encounter with an official police horse.

Follow Untapped Cities on  Twitter  and  Facebook. Get in touch with the author @justthegritty.