Fern Grotto and Lily Pond in Golden Gate Park
Hidden sights in Golden Gate Park include the Lily Pond and Fern Grotto
Tree Fern Dell
Step into an exotic, jungle-like world in this delightful, shady garden stretch, located along JFK Drive opposite the Conservatory of Flowers. Filled with Tasmanian tree ferns, the dell offers visitors a unique stroll through what you’d imagine a dinosaur garden would be.
A scenic, dipping path meanders around what was once a quarry, opened in 1871 to supply bedded chert rock for paving the park’s drives and paths. Chert is a thin, brick red strata of shells and protozoa layered with shale from the lower Jurassic period. After much of the rock was removed, the area was cultivated in 1902 as Cook’s Lake, around which peacocks once strutted and shrilled. Its towering escarpment on the north side provides a picturesque backdrop to the pond, once inhabited by ducks, turtles, and water lilies.
Workers for the 1894 Midwinter Fair used the banks of the lake as a resting place during lunch breaks and affectionately called it “Hobo Lake.”
Info by SF Rec and Park Department