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Lake Merced Trail is a 4.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near San Francisco, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 4.5 miles Elevation Gain: 127 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

road biking

walking

bird watching

running

lake

partially paved

views

wildlife

A paved loop, this trail is popular for joggers, and road bikers. A beautiful loop for a nice day, its a popular spot to walk your dog.

hiking
22 days ago

What else should we ask for? Living in great city with magnificent landscapes every where. I hike from Lake Merced to Fort Funston . Both places have its unique views. It depends on how you see it and capture it in your eyes. I enjoyed hiking these places even just by myself

hiking
2 months ago

Can feel quite crowded on a bicycle and running at times, but very convenient loop. If you look lakeside, you can ALMOST forget there’s a road next to you the entire time. If you’re seeking speed or a challenge, look elsewhere.

hiking
3 months ago

It’s a fine way to get some exercise. But, along a road the entire time. I like the length though.

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty lake in heart of city. All paved but most offers single track on side of trail. Fair amount adjacent to high velocity street.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Easy walk. One I’ve done many times.

hiking
8 months ago

Boring with more views of cars than the lake

hiking
8 months ago

Too bad this paved path runs parallel to a looped busy boulevard because the constant stream of vehicles creates lots of noise and exhaust. Loud and stinky. There are various places where a walker can cut in closer to Lake Merced and those places are beautiful although not marked and some of these paths are not maintained at all and dead end into overgrown impassable brush. But when you can cut in the walk is very nice and quiet and pretty with snatches of views of the lake and plenty of song bird activity year ‘round. I suppose if you’re an urban jogger with music plugged in with ear gear that cancels out background noise at least heavy vehicle traffic sound wouldn’t be an issue. Still exhaust.

hiking
10 months ago

I am having trouble understanding why All Trail hikers would rate this “Sidewalk” trail at 4 Stars. Heavily trafficked with real traffic as it mostly follows the highway. If you love golf courses, then you will like this hike more because you do go by two of them. Next time I’m in this same area, I’m going to the Zoo instead because it is still the same kind of hike, but no cars.

running
10 months ago

This is a beautiful paved and partial running trail path which is in a decently safe area (daytime) surrounding a lake. It’s great for walkers, joggers, runners, bikes and family and friends. You can also picnic, kayak or row if you choose. Approximately 4.5 miles. :)

hiking
11 months ago

Nice walking area to conversate.

hiking
11 months ago

The street next to walk is busy and loud. Ok walk to stretch your legs.

hiking
Sun May 12 2019

95% of this is along the main road. Lots of cars, noisy, no views. Meh.

Sat May 11 2019

Very easy path, all paved, but you’re by the road the whole time. Definitely not a nature walk.

running
Mon Apr 15 2019

Lots of traffic, not particularly scenic

Sun Dec 30 2018

Decent hike.

running
Mon Jul 30 2018

It is for the paved road running, not trail running. The loop is a perfect distance to train for a half Marathon. It is relatively flat, so I can maintain a very steady pace. The trail has enough barrier/room from the roads next to it, so the passing traffic doesn’t bother me, and there isn’t much car exhaust smell at all. I love it for a running trail (I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much as a walking trail).

Fri Jun 08 2018

life like half mile away, helped me lose 20lbs.

Fri Jun 01 2018

Nice walk around the lake. Crowded every now and then, but not too bad.

hiking
Thu Mar 29 2018

Good but can get plenty crowded on the weekend which is,when I did it.

walking
Sun Jan 14 2018

walking
Mon Aug 28 2017

my family and I love this place. the lake is beautiful and the park area is really nice also.

walking
Sat Feb 18 2017

Lots of runners, walkers, and strollers. Don't forget to cross the bridge!

Sat Feb 04 2017

Mon Nov 28 2016

As others have said, more akin to walking down the street on the sidewalk than walking around a lake on a path. would be a good biking path for little kids, though.

walking
Thu Jun 09 2016

Lots of traffic especially east side. Cut through Harding golf course for a breath of fresh air

walking
Mon May 09 2016

It's a nice paved road circuit, but too many cars do go by here since it's right next to the main Streets and highway. the noise here is so loud that it gets you to the point where you wish you could find a place that was quiet. bring earphones to drown out the noise. Definitely safe to do it considering you don't need to cross the street in oncoming traffic.

road biking
Tue Apr 12 2016

Fun!!!

road biking
Mon Feb 16 2015

Traffic is beside you on the whole loop. The lake is beautiful but it's not as peaceful as other trails.

Tue Apr 22 2014

College kids littered everywhere, but they are usually absorbed in their own worlds (as per usual). Good stretch to walk/run/bike, and a pull-up bar station if you are feeling squirrelly enough.

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