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Philosopher's Way is a 2.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near San Francisco, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking and running and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 2.7 mi Elevation gain 328 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Walking

Running

Forest

Views

Wild flowers

Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Tips
Getting There

Looping around the perimeter of John McLaren Park in southeastern San Francisco, the Philosopher’s Way is a unique trail meant to inspire contemplation. The route is laid out onto existing park trails, but with the addition of fourteen “musing stations”. These stone markers are meant to “highlight the interrelationships between the area’s ecology, geography, and history.”

There is easy and free off-street parking at the trailhead. John McLaren Park has multiple public restrooms.

The map on this page has the hiker starting at the intersection of Mansell Street and Visitacion Avenue, however there are other trailheads along the route.

There is easy and free street parking at the trailhead shown on this page. This trailhead can also be accessed via the 29 bus.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (270)
Photos (151)
Recordings (252)
Completed (343)
Alyssa B
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Hiking

Pretty easy but a little confusing - lots of offshoots.

View Alyssa's Recording
T Lee
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Hiking
View T's Recording
Susanne Chang
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Hiking

A well maintained hiking trail in the middle of the city with great views. Lots of markers along the trail, but I still made a few wrong turns along the way. no regrets!

View Susanne's Recording
Mary Splan
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WalkingRocky
View Mary's Recording
Nick Demczuk
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Hiking

Great! Loved this trail because in places it was shady and breezy. This park has a lake . Also stones with arrows carved into it Mark the Philosophers trail.

View Nick's Recording
Dav Schmav
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Mountain biking

Me and Li’b at lunch, during covid bike Frenzy.

View Dav's Recording
Christa Lam
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 14, 2020

A beautiful walk for all types of lifestyles filled with forests, grasslands, and lake trails. Can be done easily in 1.5 hours at a very leisurely pace.

Tiffany Bautista
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Horseback riding

Very beautiful walk with lots of different plants and flowers in the spring. There are good views of the city and the bay as well. I love that SF has these beautiful hikes hidden within its city.

View Tiffany's Recording
Ferrell Shatto
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Hiking

Absolutely beautiful if not a bit limited in terms of a long hike. But for a short walk it is absolutely well above expectations!

Mallory McCarron
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 20, 2020
Hiking

Great park in SF with dirt trails through meadows and trees. Beautiful wildflowers and lightly trafficked on a weekday

View Mallory's Recording
Jean Lee
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HikingMuddy
View Jean's Recording
Yasi Mak
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Hiking

Nice clearly marked trail. Will be back. Had to cut it short but is a really nice trail.

View Yasi's Recording
Melanie Sherk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 4, 2020
Hiking

Good dog friendly trail - great views of city and bay from a number of perspectives. Well maintained and signed. Parked in the Mansell lot near tennis courts.

View Melanie's Recording
Jim Christrup
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Hiking

Just starting using this app. In Tilden it worked fine. In this park it didn’t work so well. GPS doesn’t take you to a good starting place but a random stretch of road with no parking. And when attempting to hike the gps veers all over in very confusing ways. Gave up and will need to come back with a decent hiking book or map.

Jennifer Dawgert Carlin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 20, 2019
Hiking

The trail I do the most in SF. Relatively easy (some areas of the trail are narrow and a bit rocky) with a few good hills. Great way to get views and a sense of temporary seclusion in the city. McLaren park is the second largest park in SF and mostly ignored. It’s a gem.

Stephanie Weeks
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 8, 2019
Hiking

Huge fail. The gps coordinates led me to a different starting point than indicated on the All Trails app. The map on the app veers off of the trail in confusing ways that I, as a novice hiker and map-idiot couldn’t make sense of. The gorgeous forest-like patch of trail (off-map however) that I found was ruined by a techno version of Madonna’s hit “Music,”, circa 2009, blared from speakers across the street loudly enough that it can be heard on the video I took to show my friend the tragic juxtaposition between gorgeous Bay Area nature and music you would need to be on meth to enjoy, like the disgruntled middle-aged white woman that I am. Also my dog was really annoying cause she kept stopping to smell shit and I just wanted to BE IN NATURE DAMNIT. I decided to call it a day after about 1 mile and am instead heading home to drink White Claw and watch those drone videos of nature set to spa music on YouTube. Oh and to google how to read maps and hike. I hate everything.

View Stephanie's Recording
Amy Terhar
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Hiking

Great views! Very few people out even for a Saturday.

Liz Zupp
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Hiking

Beautiful views of the city and the bay, parts unshaded for long stretches.

View Liz's Recording
Anna Shen
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Hiking

very flat and good for beginners, however easy to take the wrong trail

View Anna's Recording
Monica Holguin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 28, 2019
Hiking

Always a joy to walk the dogs in John McLaren Park. This trail is great because it gets into the trees and away from some of the city noise

View Monica's Recording
Adalee Chaffee
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Hiking

I Loved it!! Was beautiful !! Amazing escape from the city, really feels like I’m in the forest

Autumn J
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Quick and easy loop in an underrated SF park.

Amar Pai
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My second fave walk in the city

Kevin McCord
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Running
Stephanie Arend
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 30, 2017
Hiking

Nice trails and quite a few of them, huge park and hardly anyone there on a Sunday afternoon. Signage was a little lacking, and not every trail is shown in this app. There were Fox Tails *everywhere*, so check your dogs when you're done.

Wendy Navas
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Great short day hike

Lynn Rhodes
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Hiking

A beautiful day, great views, well maintained trail.

Elizabeth Candy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 11, 2015
Hiking

I love this trail! It is very well marked - just follow the arrows. Beautiful views of the bay and San Francisco. The trail is well maintained and dog friendly. Highly recommend!

Nathaniel Paluga
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Hiking

Bi-weekly Philosophy Walks are held here. For more detailed information check out the website https://www.facebook.com/PhilosophersWaySanFrancisco

Mark Brumwell
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Hiking

If you have a dog, there is a small lake near the top in which dog owners take their dogs to swim. There are also a few picnic benches next to the water.

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