Urban Trails San Francisco  by Alexandra Kenin

Urban Trails San Francisco Guide Book

by Alexandra Kenin (The Mountaineers Books)
Urban Trails San Francisco  by Alexandra Kenin
San Francisco is a world-class city with easy access to nature. In our compact, seven-by-seven-mile square, we have upward of 220 parks. There are more than forty hills to climb, and by my estimation, we have 70-plus miles of hiking trails. The variety of our natural areas is striking too. We have 10 miles of Pacific coastline, the Presidio’s 24 miles of hiking trails, multiple lush eucalyptus forests, 1017-acre Golden Gate Park with its ten lakes, and the industrial bay shore of the southeastern waterfront. Trails are paved or not, flat or steep. Some feel very urban and others make you forget you’re in a city.

© 2016 Alexandra Kenin /The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Urban Trails San Francisco" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 50.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 50.

This route is a tribute to Adolph Sutro and visits three attractions named after him: the Sutro Baths, Sutro Heights Park, and Sutro Dunes—plus a fourth attraction formerly owned by him, the Cliff House. The ruins of Sutro Baths are all that remain of the grand bathhouse that opened in 1896 and once welcomed up to 25,000 people a day. Sutro Heights Park is the site where Adolph Sutro’s estate stood from 1881 to 1939. And Sutro Dunes is a sandy park that re-creates western San Francisco’s natural dune habitat.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.0
For Bay Area locals, it can be easy to overlook Alcatraz. It’s something you already did or something you continue to put off for later. But when a friend or family member visits, you decide to venture into the bay. Before joining the throngs of people making a beeline for the prison, take a ?fteen-minute break to walk the little-known Alcatraz Agave Trail. This lovely, manicured path meanders along the south side of the island. It features four species of agave plants and sensational views of San Francisco, the bay, and the Bay and Golden Gate bridges.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4
At 740 acres, Angel Island is the second-largest island in the bay after Alameda Island. While most of the island lies in Tiburon, Fort McDowell, on the eastern side of the island, is owned by the City and County of San Francisco. Angel Island is a perfect place to take in views of the Bay Area. On a clear day, you can see as far as Napa and Sonoma counties to the north and San Jose to the south.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.1
This segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail is an easy stroll along the bay. After AT&T Park, you’ll walk along a single road, the Embarcadero, all the way to Pier 39. For this reason, instead of giving you turn-by-turn directions, I’ll focus more on the sights you’ll see along the way. As you hike, remember it wasn’t so long ago that part of this route—between Folsom Street and Broadway—was once the Embarcadero Freeway. Built in 1958, it cut off the city from the water and enraged citizens so much that the Board of Supervisors voted to ban future city freeways north of Market Street.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.9
This route crosses through the Financial District, Chinatown, Portsmouth Square, North Beach, the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park—with bronze Barbary Coast Trail medallions embedded in the sidewalk to keep you on the route. Start your hike at the old San Francisco Mint on 5th Street between Mission Street and Mint Plaza. Built in 1874, this is the oldest federal building on the West Coast.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Rail-Trails,Walking - Trail Length: 4.4
While this gorgeous bayside trail is short, it manages to pack a major punch due to the 470 or so steps along its way. But don’t worry too much about the stairs—there is plenty to distract you. When you’re not enjoying breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Marin Headlands, you can learn about the historic gun batteries you’ll encounter on the cliffs. The trail was completed in October 2007, and construction wasn’t easy. At times, materials were delivered by helicopter to protect the sensitive habitat.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
After the 1906 earthquake and ?re destroyed most of San Francisco, the city was in need of a major morale boost. As repairing and rebuilding began, the city created events to cheer up despondent San Franciscans. As a prelude to world-class athletic events to be held at the Panama Paci?c Exposition in 1915, the ?rst Cross City Race took place on January 1, 1912, with 186 runners and 121 ?nishers. Now known as Bay to Breakers—and run in May—the race has become a tradition with 40,000 to 50,000 registered participants each year.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 7.5
Tucked into the southeastern corner of the city, forty-six- acre Bayview Park is a place to get away from it all. The park’s wide, peaceful trails are often empty, and you’ll feel like you have a little piece of San Francisco all to yourself. The start of the hike is challenging with a short but steep climb. This leads to an easy, ?at loop trail that rewards your efforts with 360-degree views of downtown San Francisco, the East Bay, and the San Francisco Peninsula.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.2
Bernal Heights was once part of a 4446-acre land grant given to José Cornelio de Bernal, a grandson of a soldier in Juan Bautista de Anza’s 1776 expedition (see Hike 29). The grant extended from present-day Cesar Chavez Street to Daly City. In the mid-nineteenth century, Irish, Scottish, and Scandinavian immigrants moved into the neighborhood, and Bernal Hill was used for cattle ranching and dairy farming.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
In 1978 Candlestick Point became California’s first urban state park. In addition to hiking, the park is popular for picnicking, fishing, and windsurfing. For a state park, the area is still a little rough around the edges, but Candlestick Point’s bay-front location is full of potential. Anyone who visits can appreciate the pleasantly flat terrain and views of the bay, the East Bay, and San Bruno Mountain.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.9
On this hike, you’ll climb from the Castro District to Twin Peaks—and back—in about 5 miles and two hours. You’ll summit three hilltops with panoramic views of the city, bridges, and bay. Along your route, you’ll visit a late nineteenth- century mansion, slide down the Seward Street slides, climb epic stairways to the top of Twin Peaks, stand at the foot of Sutro Tower, and walk alongside a peaceful eucalyptus forest. This hike has some sensational views, so make sure you’re hiking on a sunny day.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
Created in 2015, the Creeks to Peaks Trail takes you from Glen Canyon Park’s Islais Creek to the top of Twin Peaks— an ascent of some 800 feet. Already gorgeous Glen Canyon Park just got a major makeover with new stairways and signed trails. As you traverse the area from south to north, you’ll climb gradually out of the park. After exiting Glen Canyon Park, arrive at the base of Twin Peaks. Using trails and stairs, you’ll climb toward views that get better with every step. Once you summit both peaks, head down to their famous overlook, Christmas Tree Point.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.0
The Eucalyptus Loop Trail is a good introduction to San Bruno Mountain. In terms of ?ora, you’ll see eucalyptus, open grasslands, coastal scrub, and blackberry (if the season is right). And in terms of views, you’ll see the San Bruno Mountain summit, the San Francisco skyline, and the bay. This hike is not very strenuous—after a gradual climb for the ?rst 0.4 mile, the rest of the trail is gently downhill—so most people use it as part of a larger loop with the Summit Loop Trail, the Dairy Ravine Trail, or both.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.0
Fort Funston is often foggy and breezy, but no matter what the weather, you can enjoy the clean ocean air and the sandy landscape alternately covered in ice plants, eucalyptus, and Monterey cypress. If you happen upon this cliff-side destination on a sunny day, you’ll also be treated to views of Sutro Tower, the Cliff House, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Pacific Ocean.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.7
For me, Fort Funston means two things: dogs and dunes. This sandy spot, situated in San Francisco’s southwest corner, is well loved by canines and their humans alike. If you’re not a fan of our four-legged friends, you may want to skip this hike. It is a veritable puppy paradise—full of sights, smells, and space unparalleled elsewhere in the city. What’s more, the absence of leash laws here means that your dog can roam free and unfettered along the trails.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.0
There are so many aspects of this hike to like. There are few more breathtaking sights than walking along the Paci?c Ocean on the Coastal Trail, and this route starts with almost 4.5 miles of coastal views. Muir Beach is a beautiful halfway point and a great place to stop and have a picnic. Others can stop for a bite at the Pelican Inn, a sixteenth-century-style inn and restaurant near the beach. The return trip meanders through the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, an organic farm and Zen retreat that has you feeling like you’ve been temporarily swept away to Japan. And the Green Gulch, Coyote Ridge, and Miwok trails give you expansive valley views.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.0
This route is designed as a gallery tour for Andy Goldsworthy’s artwork in the Presidio. Goldsworthy crafts his varied works out of natural materials, such as leaves, mud, trees, stone, and even ice. Often his art is ephemeral: some works wash away with the tide and others melt in the sun. Goldsworthy ?rst visited the Presidio in 2006, and between 2008 and 2014, he created four works: Spire, Wood Line, Tree Fall, and Earth Wall.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.0
Hill 88 is part of Fort Cronkhite, a World War II military post situated next to Rodeo Beach and the Paci?c Ocean. The well-preserved fort includes barracks, a mess hall, and supply buildings, which today house nonpro?ts such as the Marine Mammal Center, NatureBridge, and more. The fort’s military history isn’t just on the ground—it’s also high in the hills. On this route, you’ll pass by World War II–era Battery Townsley (open the ?rst Sunday of the month from noon to 4:00 PM), and you’ll summit 833-foot Hill 88, a former Nike missile radar station.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
In some ways, this section of the San Francisco Bay Trail feels like it’s on its way, but it’s not quite there yet. The trail is often well marked, but it would benefit from a few more nature breaks. Still, while not all of this hike is traditionally scenic, it gives you a more nuanced view of the city. Two early highlights of this route include India Basin Shoreline Park and Heron’s Head Park, significant wetland habitats for approximately one hundred bird species. The middle section of the hike continues on industrial Illinois Street or one block west on 3rd Street in the heart of the rapidly developing Dogpatch neighborhood. The end of the hike passes by waterfront restaurants where you can stop for a bite or drink before taking in baseball history in China Basin Park and at AT&T Park.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5.0
The twenty-one-acre Interior Greenbelt and sixty-one-acre Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve are nestled between the northwest end of Twin Peaks and the southeast end of Golden Gate Park. A single road, Medical Center Way, winds its way through the parks. Together, they form a vast eucalyptus forest, the result of a mass planting by Adolph Sutro in the late 1800s. The shady, cool, and peaceful parks are untapped wonders and have clearly marked and well-maintained trails that make them easy to visit.
San Francisco, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.3