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9 Hiking Trails In San Francisco That Are Anything But Basic
Health & Fitness

9 Hiking Trails In San Francisco That Are Anything But Basic

Get lost in the region’s natural bounty through the hiking trails in San Francisco; we’ve got the very best rounded up just for you.

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5 min read

November 19, 2021

Between the quirky neighborhoods, flourishing culinary scene, and rich cultural history, the charms of San Francisco are as many as they are well-known. But if you’re really looking to get to know the Bay Area, a nice long hike is in order. There are craggy Pacific promontories, serene redwood forests, wetlands teeming with wildlife just waiting to be explored, and all are within a short drive of the city. So get lost in the region’s natural bounty through the hiking trails in San Francisco; we’ve got the very best rounded up just for you.

These Are The Best Hikes in San Francisco

This section of the California Coastal Trail runs from the Cliff House near the Sutro Baths all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

1. California Coastal Trail: Lands End to Golden Gate Bridge

Location: Golden Gate Recreation Area, San Francisco
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available near the Golden Gate Bridge
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 4.4 miles 
Time: 48 minutes 
Route: Point-to-point 
Dogs allowed: On leash

Rocky coastal bluffs, glimpses of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and endless views of windswept Monterey cypress—the California Coastal Trail in San Francisco has to be seen to be believed. There are quite a few spots to stop and take in all the beauty around you, so make sure to take advantage of those. They’re also guaranteed to leave you with Instagrammable moments you won’t be able to forget.

2. Tomales Point Trail

Location: Point Reyes National Seashore, Marshall
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available at the Tomales Point Trailhead 
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 9.4 miles 
Time: 3 hours 
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

The Point Reyes area boasts one must-visit after another—the historic lighthouse, the roaring Pacific waves crashing onto the shoreline, and the charming boutiques and restaurants at Point Reyes Station; and this is just to name a few. This place is also home to one of the best hikes in San Francisco, the Tomales Point Trail. The nearly 10-mile hike features ocean views on one side and Tomales Bay on the other, so trust us when we say it’s an unforgettable sight. You might even catch majestic elk grazing.

The Muir Woods Fern Creek Loop is an easy and peaceful hike along the canopy view trail north of San Francisco that follows hillside trails.

3. Muir Woods Fern Creek Loop

Location: Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available at the Paved Parking Lot off Muir Woods Road 
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.3 miles 
Time: 1 hour
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: No

This one’s hardly a secret—Muir Woods is the world’s most-visited redwood destination. A mist-cloaked wonderland, this national monument nurtures the best places to hike in San Francisco. Hundreds of Sequoia sempervirens (the tallest trees known to man) lead to wooden boardwalks and paved paths, all carpeted in the lushness the Bay Area’s known for.

4. Dipsea Trail to Steep Ravine Trail from Stinson Beach

Location: Mount Tamalpais State Park, Stinson Beach
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Available near Stinson Beach
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 6.1 miles 
Time: 3 hours 
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: No

Mount Tam (as the locals call it) is a towering beauty dominating the Marin County landscape, and it’s only logical that the namesake state park features a natural bounty to match. Featuring every kind of terrain NorCal is famous for, this spot boasts trails on trails—200 miles to be exact. But this San Francisco hike is a unique experience. You get to encounter shady oak forest, iconically Californian rolling hills, sandy shores, and, if the season allows, magical cascading waterfalls.

The North Ridge and Sunset Trail Loop leads up the main road, then crosses the perimeter road, and keeps going up the mountain.

5. North Ridge and Sunset Trail Loop

Location: Angel Island State Park, Tiburon
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Parking: Not applicable
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.8 miles 
Time: 2.5 hours
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: No

When it comes to Angel Island—located in the middle of San Francisco Bay—half of the appeal is just getting there. A scenic ferry ride from Fisherman’s Wharf takes you to a world of natural wonders, and this unique San Francisco trail snakes its way up the 788-foot Mount Livermore in a dramatic experience full of pines, oaks, and beautiful wildflowers.

Dog-Friendly Hikes in San Francisco

The Lands End Trail explores the historic Sutro Baths and offers great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.

6. Lands End Trail San Francisco

Location: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available at the end of Geary Avenue 
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 3.4 miles 
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

Few cities can rival San Francisco for a sense of endless nature within city limits. And at S.F.’s far northwest corner, this hike has miles of trails that go straight to the rugged Pacific coast. Sunny days on the Lands End Trails in San Francisco yield far out into the ocean and the hills of Marin—Golden Gate views galore.

7. Presidio Loop Trail

Location: Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Free three-hour parking at the nearest golf course
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 6.1 miles 
Time: 4.5 hours 
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

An urban hike through Presidio—S.F.’s beloved national park—is one of the most unforgettable on-foot experiences you’ll have in the bay. Filled with vistas of all the essentials, the Presidio Loop Trail takes you through a shaded wonderland of eucalyptus. You can find multiple spots for picnicking and birdwatching; just be prepared to share the experience with fellow nature enthusiasts since the trail is quite popular.

Popular activities for Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park visitors include jogging, hiking, archery, and horseback riding along the 40 miles of trails.

8. Stream, Mill, and French Trail Loop

Location: Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Oakland
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available at the Park's entrance
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 5 miles 
Time: 2.5 hours 
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

A redwood hideaway with minimal driving, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park feels worlds away when it’s actually a few miles from the bay. Featuring a whopping 1,833 acres, the park is home to a forest of coastal redwoods brimming with grasslands and rare birdlife. The paved path of the Stream, Mill, and French Trail Loop takes you through the heart of Redwood Canyon—this S.F. trail is tailor-fit for any skill level.

9. Mori Point Loop Trail

Location: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Pacifica
Hours: Sunrise to sunset 
Parking: Available near the Golden Gate Bridge 
Difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 2.5 miles 
Time: 2 hours 
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: On leash

For a short, dog-friendly hike in San Francisco that won’t take up the better part of the day, Mori Point is the ideal pick. Less than an hour’s drive south of the City by the Bay, the 32-acre wetland park leads a scenic way to the Pacific. Revel in the coastal bluffs from which the luckiest version of you might spot whales during their migration or frolic in the hillsides carpeted in kaleidoscopic wildflowers. Either way, pack an extra layer, no matter how warm it is when you start inland.

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