The Great Spirit Path – Menlo Park, California - Atlas Obscura
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Menlo Park, California

The Great Spirit Path

A trail weaves through the verses of a poem illustrated by stone sculptures inspired by Native American pictographs. 

At first, the Bedwell Bayfront Park seems unassuming, located near the water treatment facility and other industrial bits of the San Francisco Bay. But within this surprising space is a poetry trail that is a hidden (and sometimes very much so) gem in the town of Menlo Park.

Called the Great Spirit Path, the trail is a single poem broken down into 53 verses spread over three-quarters of a mile throughout the park. Each verse is represented by a large stone sculpture inspired by Native American pictographic art. The end result is a contemplative experience paced by having to walk to find each of the 53 installments, posted on numbered signs.

The journey starts at the trailhead in the parking lot where you can pick up a map and interpretive guide. There is much grass overgrowth so some of the entries are hard to find, and some are slightly hidden. (Number 21 especially is off on a bit of a spur trail slightly downhill from number 20. Entries number 42 and 43 are also a bit hard to spot, but number 44 is easier to find so you can work backward from there.) 

The poem is divided into two halves located in different sections of the park, which are separated by a short walk. Aside from the poetry scavenger hunt, the setting has great views of the bay, and you can see as far north as San Francisco and Oakland. 

Know Before You Go

Start at the last parking lot at the end of the road and look for the stand at the trailhead containing the maps and interpretive guide. Park restrooms are available at the middle parking lot. Other nearby attractions are the "Facebook.com" sign, which is a common tourist photo spot.

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