life Wellness

The Best Hiking Trails In San Francisco

March 16, 2018

Visiting San Francisco? Here are the 10 best hikes in San Francisco within city limits! No need to rent a car as these hiking trails are some of the best in the Bay Area all within San Francisco county.

We are often asked why we moved to San Francisco. Besides my husband’s extended family living out here, it was the lifestyle that spoke to us. We both deeply value being outdoors and living in a place that offered this year round was a true luxury for us. While it did mean walking away from a really great life in Toronto (in addition to our family and friends!), we knew we had to live by our values and take the leap. Though the transition was hard (you can read more about it here), moving to San Francisco is easily one of the best decisions we have ever made.

Visiting San Francisco but don't want to leave the city? Here's a list of the 10 best hiking trails in San Francisco without having to leave city limits!

Besides being outside 365 days a year, I love that this city offers so many different experiences. All in one day, you can brunch at the best restaurants, put your toes in the sand and go for a strenuous hike. Better yet, you can access each one within the 7 x 7 mile radius that makes up the city of San Francisco. And we haven’t even left city limits! The greater Bay Area offers pretty much every activity under the sun, but for today’s post I wanted to focus on the best hiking trails IN San Francisco. And not so secretly, I’m also writing this post because our wedding is coming up and I want our guests to have the inside scoop on where to hike as well 🙂

Okay so let’s jump into the best hiking trails in San Francisco…

A guide to The Best Hiking Trails in San Francisco without having to leave city limits!


1. Land’s End – You cannot visit San Francisco without a trip to Land’s End. I truly believe this is the most beautiful hike in the city. It’s about 3-4 miles long and features some steep inclines (with the stairs from hell) but it’s soooo worth it. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge is unparalleled.

2. Bernal Heights – My absolute favorite view of the city and Bay Area. On a clear day you can basically get a 360 degree view of the city. Plus it’s atop one of my favorite neighbors in San Francisco.

3. The Presidio – You could easily spend the day getting lost in the trails of this former army barracks park. Make sure you stop by Lover’s Lane for some beautiful pictures with the eucalyptus trees.

4. Corona Heights – This is a steep but relatively quick urban hike. It’s a nice activity to do if you only have an hour or so. Of course, you could always drive to the top but I think the hike is worth the reward.

5. Stern Grove – We love this park on the southwest side of the city. It’s like descending into a fairy forest of redwoods and eucalyptus trees. A nice, less trafficked park with LOTS OF DOGS (this always a plus in my book!).

6. Glen Canyon – Did you know there’s a massive canyon in the middle of San Francisco? Yeah…neither did I! Glen Canyon is precisely this. The path is steep but well-maintained.

7. Sutro Forest – Like Stern Grove, Sutro Forest is less trafficked than some of the more popular spots like Land’s End and Golden Gate Park but it feels like a true escape from city life.

8. Mount Davidson – The highest peak in the city so prepare for a climb, but some epic views of San Francisco.

9. Twin Peaks – Similar to Corona Heights, Twin Peaks is an urban hike that you can access by car but if you want to earn the views, put on those runners and climb away! Truthfully, I’m a little salty because we had our car broken into at Twin Peaks but all the more reason to walk rather than drive. 😉

10. Golden Gate Park – Saved the best for last! I love getting lost in Golden Gate Park, which is actually 20% bigger than Central Park (and designed by the same guy!) so there’s plenty to explore. If you’re up for it, start at the museums and meander your way all the way to Ocean Beach.


A BIG note – these are not all the trails WITHIN the city of San Francisco and certainly not in the Bay Area in general. There are legitimately thousands of trails around the Bay Area (one of the many reasons I love living here!) and I chose to specifically focus on the ones IN San Francisco so that you can get to without having to rent a car. I also only included the ones I’ve either done or think are worth doing.

For anyone visiting San Francisco without access to a car or with limited time, this list is for you. There’s so much to explore within these 10 hikes but as always, I’m here to answer any questions if you have them.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pack layers! San Francisco is a microclimate which means that one hike in San Francisco could be sunny and beautiful while another is cold and foggy. You never know what kind of temperature you’re going to get so always be prepared!

a visitors guide to the best hiking trails in San Francisco without having to leave the city!

Have you visited San Francisco? Any hikes you would add to this list?


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  • Reply
    Amanda D
    January 20, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Hi! I love everything about this!! So much to do, wish I had more time!!
    My fiancée an I are going out there the first of the month. We’re only there for 2 days so we MUST squeeze a hike in. We’re looking for a hike that leds us up to a beautiful sight of the San Francisco bridge. Maybe an hour an a half to 2 hours round trip cause we want to wonder around the city. What do you recommend? 🙂
    Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Hey! Thank you for your post! So useful!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Coming out to San Fran for a business trip later this month, thanks for the tips. Def doing Land’s End.

  • Reply
    Olivia M. Wade
    September 12, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Corona Heights Summit is my new favorite place in San Francisco. It’s better than Twin Peaks, because you can see Twin Peaks from Corona Heights.

    The park makes for a fantastic little hike in the heart of San Francisco. It’s Steep and some of the terrain is just a little rugged. But when you get to the top the view is fantastic.

    And then there’s the geology. If you’re interested in geology, you will love this park. Bedded chert everywhere. And off of 15th and beaver you’ll find the most amazing slickenside side anywhere.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2018 at 11:52 am

    We have been to San Francisco a couple of times but was not aware of the other hiking trails. We will definitely consider this on our next trip. We love to try the Sutro Forest or the Glen Canyon.

    We had no idea there’s a massive canyon is SF.

  • Reply
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven
    March 27, 2018 at 11:28 am

    of course! Hope you make it here soon!

  • Reply
    Janice - Salads for Lunch
    March 20, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Gorgeous trails! I’ve never been to San Francisco but I will definitely check some of these out if I ever get the opportunity.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      March 20, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Hope you come visit soon!

  • Reply
    Carrie this fit chick
    March 16, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Lands End is our go-to and easy to get to! Had no idea there were so many out there- going to save this post for our next adventure!!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      March 20, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      You really can’t go wrong with Lands End so I don’t blame you for not trying out the others!

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