The Best Places to Hike in San Francisco

At times you feel that the days have been dragging you down or that you need some fresh air to breathe in San Francisco, you might just need an urban hike to perk you up. The best hike spots in San Francisco brings in the fresh eucalyptus-scented air, stunning views of the endless ocean, the huge redwood forests, impressive cliffs, and a whole lot natural beauty on the background. All these, plus a free workout, and many other health benefits are what you will get when you let your feet show you the way. Just don’t forget to bring one of the best water bottles for hiking to keep you hydrated along the way.

If you need to escape the rush and hustle that the city usually requires, but just don’t have the time to roam around the busy streets of San Francisco, just walk your way to a more placid place. Step out and explore the great outdoors and you’ll have more ways to thank the day for.

It could be intimidating if it will be your first time to go out of the city, but once you have planned everything that you will need for a stress-free day out with nature, you won’t have anything to worry about.

Your first task is to find the best places to hike in San Francisco.

There are just so many stunning spots and trail hikes to visit and the day will already be over just by the time you are just starting to enjoy the scenic background that may bring a lot of memories for you and whoever has decided to come along with you.

To help you find the right hiking trail, we have listed a few that’s been touted as the best places to hike in San Francisco.

Marin Headlands

This is a place rich in history and variety of wildlife inhabiting a unique geological area. A quick walk across the Golden Gate will lead you to the 2,000-acre stretch of the Marin Headlands. This is truly a nature lover’s playground.

In it, you will find diverse cultures that have been part of The Headlands history — from the Miwok Indians to the American Military, and everything else in between. You will also find a string of trails posing varied challenges and sights. You can embrace the cliffside along the Jurassic rock formations. If you’d rather trek through the tranquil woodland, you’ve got a whole lot of space to cover as well. You may also hike through the coastal chapparal around Gerbode Valley.

Wherever you’d like to check out first, these two hike trails should always be in your bucket list: Point Bonita Trail and the Rodeo Lagoon Trail. The Point Bonita ends with the enchanting Point Bonita Lighthouse that stood centuries and still remains immovable. This lighthouse, which was built in 1855, was once accessible only via a dangerous and narrow path around a huge outcrop of pillow basalt (formed by hot lava eruptions underwater) and a suspension bridge that can hold only two hikers at a time. Today, hikers can use a tunnel burrowed in the rock, and the suspension bridge can now hold more than two at a time.

The Rodeo Lagoon trail,  on the other hand, starts from the Marin Headlands Visitor Center and gently loops around the scenic lagoon. If you head clockwise, you the dirt track underneath your feet turn into sand and you may be captivated by the surf around the corner as you near the lagoon’s western edge. A long stretch of pebble-covered beach, the Rodeo Beach, is set in a cove between striking basalt cliffs and sea arches.

A few hundred feet more, you’ll find several picnic tables anchored in a serene spot by the lagoon. This could just be a perfect spot for selfies and groupies to capture that enchanting moment with views of the ocean in the background. You can also use some time off your hike to eat a packed lunch here as there are no cafes or restaurants near the area.

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

If you are in the Bay Area, the Muir Woods is a must-see. This ancient coast redwood forest is just a few miles north of San Francisco and is hidden in an isolated canyon.

It is said to be the only remaining old-growth redwood forests in the Bay Area.

Other parts of the Marin Headlands, which used to be filled with soaring sequoia sempervirens were logged for construction years ago saved for what is now known as Muir Woods. It was named after conservationist and wilderness advocate John Muir, but it was through the efforts of local conservationists William and Elizabeth Kent that saved this once track of land in Mount Tamalpais.

Step into this thousand-year-old forest with a canopy that covers you overhead and be totally captivated. You’ll find all kinds of fungi, ferns and wood sorrel sprouting on the expansive forest floor.

There’s also the Redwood Creek alongside three loops of varying lengths– ½-hour, 1-hour and 1 ½-hours. Dirt trails also run along the canyon and branch off into Mount Tamalpais State Park near it. Though the loops are paved (or on boardwalks), the steeper dirt trails can get muddy, so need to anticipate the unexpected. Note, however, that these loops are also accessible by wheelchair and a stroller.  But if you have pets, you might just have to leave it behind as pets are not allowed in these areas.

Golden Gate Bridge

The mesmerizing elegant engineering that bridges the Golden Gate Strait can be enjoyed at several points. Don’t just admire it from a distance, step out to get close and personal with this towering Golden Gate Bridge. These locations are as follows, the Baker Beach, the Fort Point National Historic Site, Fort Baker, Crissy Field, Battery East Vista, the Lands End, and the Golden Gate Overlook. You’ll find spectacular views while in any of these landmarks.


There are more that you can’t just cover in a day when you head out and decide to let your feet lead you away. Once you have decided which place to explore first, you’ll have to know when will be the best time to go for a hike at the location. You can check with their hike office for related information and other precautionary measures that you need to consider in preparing for the hike.

Again, don’t forget to bring the essential items that will make your hike both safe and worthwhile. Always bring one of the best water bottles for hiking to keep you on the go and hydrated while on the road.

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