Signs aim to diminish challenge of navigating Golden Gate Park 

Getting lost in Golden Gate Park could quickly become a thing of the past.

For years, park-goers have relied on their memories and pocket maps to conquer the 3-mile stretch and have found the de Young museum instead of a carousel or the Richmond district instead of the Sunset.

But now the Recreation and Park Department is replacing 10 stumpy signs that some say are hard to see and also installing an additional 25 more obvious ones.

“It’s frustrating when people ask me how to get to a specific place in the park,” said Evan Parry, who has lived in The City for several years but said he still barely knows his way around the open space.

“I think to myself when they ask for directions, ‘I know what you’re talking about and I’ve seen it before, I just can’t tell you how to get there,’” Parry said.

Thirty-five porcelain and enamel maps — each about 8 square feet and made to easily deflect graffiti — will be elevated about 2 feet above ground and spread throughout the entire span.

Initially, Rec and Park estimated the installation would cost about $815,000 overall — mostly funded by a state grant — but it will likely be about $100,000 less because they found cheaper contractors than expected, Rec and Park Project Manager Rick Thall said.

“Navigating has always been part of the experience,” Thall said. “But also from our standpoint, there’s just not a good Golden Gate Park map out there.”

The signs are supposed to help serve as model to generally represent the park on Web sites and also make it easier for pedestrians to maneuver.

But some people who have been hiking the park’s trails for years said the money should be used for something better.

“They are rinky-dink signs, but you can find them,” said Marcia McNeill, 31, who was walking to the Conservatory of Flowers with her husband and has frequented the park for six years. “They should use the money to repave the [footpaths].”

The signs won’t be a glaring change. Rec and Park already agreed to a specific design in 2005. The project should have been finished already, but last year the state put a freeze on the grant that’s paying for most of the project, according to Rec and Park.

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Kamala Kelkar

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