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.
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…
THE BEST PLACES TO HIKE IN SAN FRANCISCO
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.
SOME TIPS FOR SAN FRANCISCO
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!
Have you visited San Francisco? Any hikes you would add to this list?
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