The Bernal Hill Labyrinth In San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Park

Bernal Hill Labyrinth

Over Labor Day weekend, we explored San Francisco’s Lands End area and hiked out to the Land’s End Labyrinth. With majestic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the labyrinth was pretty awesome. While in San Francisco, I read about another labyrinth in the Bernal Heights Neighborhood, so we made plans to hike Bernal Hill and search out the labyrinth before Jerry Day 2016 at McLaren Park.

Bernal Hill Labyrinth, also known as the Orphan Labyrinth, is in the old quarry site on the southwest corner of Bernal Hill in Bernal Heights Park. It’s actually just past the display board and parking area at the park’s entrance. According to locals, the beautiful creation changes designs over time and continues to be well cared for. Made with reddish-colored rocks, the labyrinth blends in well with it’s surrounding landscape, so much so that if you weren’t looking for it, you might even miss it.

Bernal Hill Labyrinth

Who Created The Bernal Hill Labyrinth?

After doing some research online, it seems that everyone agrees the Bernal Hill Labyrinth first appeared in 2008, but there are multiple stories about who originally created it.

I found a February 2013 San Francisco Examiner article with a pretty creepy story about why the labyrinth was created:

Self-proclaimed artist Cesar Lopez, 34, of San Francisco is charged with one felony count of stalking in connection with a December incident in which he allegedly invited a woman to the labyrinth on Bernal Heights Boulevard in order to conduct a “cleansing ceremony.”

Police said they don’t know what Lopez meant by “cleansing,” but they did say that he had been stalking the now-26-year-old woman since she was 16…

He apparently built the labyrinth near the woman’s home using stones from Bernal Hill. At one point, prosecutors said, he sent the woman a picture of a labyrinth “in the obvious image of her face” — it even included her glasses. He has since taken down that labyrinth.

The local Bernalwood Blog has a different story to tell about the labyrinth’s origin with an interview and letter from the real labyrinth creator:

Instead, our evidence indicates the original labyrinth was created by Mr. Lars Howlett, a former Bernal neighbor. A committed labyrinth devotee, Lars is a Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator, who has even self-published a book on the subject. In other words: Impeccable credentials.

Coincidentally (for those of you who believe in coincidence), Lars posted about the Bernal Labyrinth on the very same day that the Examiner’s article about Cesar Lopes first appeared…

Even better, he had a photo of the Bernal/Orphan Labyrinth taken on May 10, 2008 — three months before Cesar Lopez claimed to have created it — which shows what the labyrinth looked like as a wee little baby.

I don’t know about you, but I much prefer this story to the creepy one reported by the San Francisco Examiner! Also, if you check out the Bernalwood labyrinth photos and compare them with my photo of the labyrinth, you can see how the labyrinth has morphed over time.

No matter what the reason was for its original creation, the Bernal Heights Labyrinth remains today as a tranquil, beautiful piece of artwork for residents and park visitors to enjoy.

Know Before You Go

  • Bernal Hill Labyrinth is in Bernal Heights Park, located at 10 Bernal Heights Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94110 (at Anderson St).
  • Also called the Orphan Labyrinth, it is in the quiet San Francisco neighborhood of Bernal Heights, so don’t block any driveways, be respectful, keep noise to a minimum, and pick up all of your trash.
  • There are no restrooms or facilities available.
  • The park is a designated off-leash area for dogs.

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