El Polín Spring

Beginning Date


Completion Date



El Polín Spring is an important fresh water source and habitat area in the heart of the Presidio

Although at 270 acres the Tennessee Hollow watershed is the largest in the Presidio, parts of it haven’t seen the light of day in a hundred years.

Since the late 1990s, the Presidio Trust, National Park Service, and Parks Conservancy have been working in phases to restore the entire watershed from its headwater springs near Inspiration Point to where it meets the San Francisco Bay at Crissy Field.

El Polín Spring has been the focus of extensive restoration since 2011. The creek has been daylighted, habitat restored, trails built, community programs expanded, and tens of thousands of seedlings planted by volunteers. Well known as a prime birding location, this site connects people with both nature’s wonder and history’s lessons. Archeologists continue to study remnants of settlements dating back 200 years to the Presidio’s Colonial period, when families such as the Briones and Miramontes likely settled around the spring.

In 2012, the Tennessee Hollow Trail through El Polín Spring, leading to Inspiration Point was also completed.

Thanks to these efforts, El Polín’s visitors now enjoy:

  • A new trail/boardwalk, replacing the old asphalt roadway
  • A revealed segment of the creek coursing through the watershed and restored wetland habitat
  • New restroom facilities, picnic and barbecue area, and benches, gathering spaces, and interpretive panels and programs
Trail and benches in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed

Other notable restoration milestones in this watershed include: its headwaters (late 1990s), Crissy Marsh (2001), Thompson Reach (2005/2006), YMCA Reach (2013/2014), and MacArthur Meadow and Quartermaster Reach (2015/2016).

YOU can help us realize our vision for the Tennessee Hollow Watershed’s wildlife, forests, tributaries, and trails by donating or volunteering.


In addition to donations from thousands of individual community members work in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed has received support from:

  • Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
  • James Irvine Foundation
  • Kingfisher Foundation
  • Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
  • Weeden Foundation
  • RBC Foundation
  • Mr. and Mrs. Matthew R. Barger
  • Lynn and Peter Wendell
  • Julie and Will Parish
  • John Atwater and Diana Nelson
  • John and Laura Gamble
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • State Water Resources Control Board

Project Status


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