Parties: Giving Back To Nature

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Charlotte Fiorito

One of the fall season’s favorite fundraisers — Trails Forever — returned in its full fleece-vest glory on October 15. But with a few tweaks. Led by event cochairs Mindy Henderson, Ali Fried and Melanie Peña, the benefit kept its blue jeans-and-boots dress code. But gone were the seated dinner, clear woodland-designed tent, videos and live auction of luxe park packages.

Instead, 400 happy campers insisted upon a strolling dinner format — sans official oration — among bountiful McCalls buffet stations set inside Fort Point, the 1860s-era brick-clad beauty and National Historic Site at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Yet this 18th Trails iteration — hosted by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in conjunction with the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service — still raised a cool $1 mil for parks education and infrastructure, including trails, habitat restoration and visitor programs.

Post-buffet, guests roasted marshmallows over shoreline firepits while savoring a Windy Hill country music jam as the City’s magical skyline twinkled over dark Bay waters near Crissy Field. This former airfield — transformed with major support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund — is a Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy crown jewel. Now in its 40th year, the conservancy’s work along 130 miles of trails north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge connects parks and people amid the 80,000 acres that comprise the world’s largest national park network in an urban setting.

“Support from Trails has funded so many improvements while also providing access to the parks. No matter where people live in the Bay Area, when they visit the parks they become part of this landscape,” said Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy President and CEO Chris Lehnertz. “During COVID, people really benefited from our parks. The opportunity to be outdoors, whether to find space by oneself or be together with others, was a gift for everyone.”

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