Urban hiking seems like an oxymoron, but hiking in San Francisco is actually a thing. Thanks to its topography and geography, San Francisco has lots of hills, lots of waterfront, and more parkland per square mile than any other city in America. So it has trails up hills, trails in parks, and trails along the waterfront.
There are lots of options for hiking in San Francisco. What San Francisco doesn’t have is a lot of parking, so consider taking public transit. It’s easy and inexpensive and many trails have public transit near both ends — making it easy to hike in one direction.
Our related post, San Francisco Excursions using Public Transit provides details about transit maps and apps and fares and ways to pay, and also has specific instructions for the most frequented locations. This bucket list of urban hiking trails begins with five great hikes, so pack up your Day Bag and take a hike.
- Grandview Park and 16th Avenue Tiled Steps — Magical mosaic tiled steps plus 360-degree views from the top. Moderate hike up 3 sets of stairs (330 steps in all)
- Mt. Davidson — Easy 1250-feet (380 m) hike up to great city views and the iconic 103-foot cross
- Mountain Lake Trail — Trail along the southern edge of Presidio National Park from Broadway Gate to Baker Beach. Easy 2.3-mile (3.7 km) trail
- Golden Gate Promenade — Goes through Crissy Field with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, and city skyline. Easy 2-mile (3.2 km) on a wide, smooth trail
- Lands End Trail — Beautiful views of the rugged coastline and entrance to San Francisco Bay. Easy to moderate 1.5 miles (2.4 km) one-way with varying trail conditions
The Presidio is one of San Francisco’s hidden gems and my favorite section of the city. Today it’s a national park, but once served as an army base. Inside the Presidio, you’ll find numerous museums, restaurants, and scenic hiking trails. You’ll also find some spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Pacific Ocean, and iconic city skyline.
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Hikes up Hills
Hikes in Parks
Hikes Along the Waterfront
Best Time to Go
The weather is generally better in the spring and consistently best in the fall. If it’s rainy (winter), trails will be muddy and slippery, and if it’s foggy (summer) or rainy, the views won’t be great.
Fortunately, there are nice sunny days scattered throughout the entire year, you just can’t predict when. Regardless of when you choose to go hiking in San Francisco, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything.
Where to Stay
Discover more things to do and see in San Francisco with our related San Francisco Itinerary post. It has suggested 1, 2, and 3-day itineraries and lists of things to do and see to help you create your own custom itinerary. Next on the list of hikes to add to this post are the Presidio Bay Area Ridge Trail and the Barbary Coast Trail.